No city in the ancient world both benefited and suffered from its location more than Corinth. Situated on the main north-south route between northern and southern Greece, and with two good ports that linked it to Italy on the west and Asia Minor on the east, Corinth quickly became a center for commerce. But the location of Corinth also had its downside. The city often found itself caught in the middle between hostile neighbors, Athens to the north and Sparta to the south. Armies crisscrossed its streets as often as merchants, and more than once the city had to arise from ashes and rubble. Today only Athens attracts more interest in Greece for its historic antiquities than Corinth. It ranks as a must-see location for every traveler to Greece. Ancient Corinth is located less than two hours south of Athens. Tours run often from local hotels. Likewise, a rental automobile gives easy access and makes it possible to see nearby sites of interest not on the usual tours. The great city of Corinth prospered for many reasons. In addition to its prominence as a center for trade and commerce, agriculture also flourished in the area. The soil around the city was thin and rocky, but just to the west, along the Nemean River, a rich plain produced heavy harvests of grain and other crops. Raisins were first developed there, and the word currant is a medieval corruption of Corinth. Tourism was another important source of income. The famous Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games and more prestigious than those held in Delphi and Nemea, brought thousands of tourists to Corinth every two years and further added to its fame and fortune. During its early period Corinth also attracted many travelers to its famous (or notorious) Temple of Aphrodite atop the Acrocorinth (“high Corinth,” or upper Corinth, the portion of the city atop the 1,900-foot mountain to the southeast of the city). Additionally, according to Plutarch, these multiple sources of wealth caused Corinth to become one of the three great banking centers of Greece, along with Athens and Patrae.
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