Corinth Canal jobsite: View of the town of Isthmia


BNP Paribas Historical Collections


  • Banks & Financial Institutions
  • Project financing

This photo shows Isthmia in Greece, a town located at the mouth of the Corinth Canal on the Athens side, which was created in 1884 to make it easier to carry out the work. We see the presence of a construction camp in the back of the photo. These are the administrative buildings of the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe, in charge of the jobsite. They are also used to lodge workers on site and are used as warehouses.


The Comptoir d’Escompte de Paris, lead bank in financing the work
The reason for constructing the Corinth Maritime Canal was the need to reduce the travel time to go from the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea. It was in this context that French engineers and a Hungarian born general naturalised Italian, Istvan Türr, carried out a geological study and developed the cutting scenario for the canal. In 1881, the Greek government awarded the project to General Türr and granted him a 99-year lease.

A French company founded in 1882, the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe, took on the project management and planned the operations over 5 years. It then called on the Comptoir d’Escompte de Paris to help it raise the necessary funds to finance the work and its capital. In April-May 1882 the Comptoir d’Escompte de Paris managed the initial public offering to constitute the required capital for the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe.

It the Comptoir d’Escompte was the lead bank in France for this project’s financing, with the precious help of the the merchant bankers Edouard Kohn and Jacques de Reinach, other financial institutions like the Crédit Mobilier Italien or the National Bank of Greece also participated. The work in the Isthmus of Corinth began between May 1882 and December 1883. After the complications related to the geology of the land and the financial difficulties (dissolution of the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe), the canal was finally inaugurated in 1893.


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