Connecting Europe and Asia, this canal through the desert challenged engineers for nearly 4,000 years. Egypt's pharaohs attempted to connect the Nile River and Red Sea but gave up, as did Napoleon Bonaparte thousands of years later. Begun in 1858, the 120-mile (193 km.) Suez Canal took 11 years to build. Unlike many other canals in the world, the Suez Canal has no locks because the terrain is so flat. The passage from one sea to the other takes only 11 to 16 hours.