AN AN­CIENT HIGH­WAY

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - TRAVEL -

The idea of build­ing a canal to link the Mediter­ranean and At­lantic had been de­bated by many rulers down the ages, but it was not un­til the 17th cen­tury that its con­struc­tion was un­der­taken. Be­tween 1666 and 1681, en­gi­neer Pierre-Paul Ri­quet em­ployed a work­force of 12 000 to com­plete the 241km canal. This in­cred­i­ble en­gi­neer­ing feat in­cluded the build­ing of 91 locks spread across 65 lo­ca­tions. Dur­ing its peak in the mid-19th cen­tury, the canal car­ried more than 100 000 tons of cargo and a mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year. The Canal du Midi is one of the world’s old­est com­mer­cial wa­ter­ways and has been de­clared a Unesco World Her­itage Site.

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