Zakynthos Island

Zakynthos Island

Things to do - general


Zakynthos, sometimes referred as Zante, is the third largest of the Ionian Islands covering an area of 410 km2 and has a coastline of 123 km in length. The Island lies in the eastern part of the Ionian Sea, around 20 km west of the Greek mainland and 15 km south of Cephalonia.
Named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus, the island’s multicultural history goes back in ancient era as Homer describes its dense forests in Odyssey. Throughout time many civilizations ruled it from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Byzantines, Venetians, Russians, French and English. Zakynthos’ nickname “Fiore di Levante” (flower of the East) is attributed to the Venetians whose cultural influence was considerable. In 1864 the island was united with Greece.
In modern days the island has developed a thriving tourism industry. The majestic sandy beach of Gerakas and Marathonisi island which consist birthplace for the rare species of Sea turtle Caretta – Caretta. The famous Shipwreck beach, one of the finest in the world, along with the unique blue caves are just some of the main reasons why visiting Zakynthos will be an experience you’ll never forget.
There is no doubt that this “paradise on earth” endowed with breathtaking nature and unique character will amaze and seduce you.
Country Greece
Languages spokenGreek
Currency usedeuro
Area (km2)410 km2

Sports & nature

The green island of Zante, called by the Venetians "The Flower of the East" is rich in wildlife and flora. The heavy rainfall in the winter helps the island to be verdant and covered with forests, fruit orchards and olive groves and the geology has also created beautiful beaches, secluded coves and blue caves.

There is so much to see on Zakynthos - it really is a 'feast for the senses' - with a whole spectrum of colours, fragrances and sounds sure to delight. Many consider that the real highlight of the island is its unspoilt beauty and its ecology. To visit Zante and not see the caves, the turtles and other wildlife, appreciate the flowers, enjoy the stunning cliff views and watch the beautiful sunsets would really be to miss out on a special and unique experience.

The endangered Caretta Caretta turtles are strongly associated with Zante as they nest their eggs on the beaches in the south of the island around the Lagana Gulf. Zakynthos is of immense environmental importance to the turtles, as they have lost many beaches throughout the Mediterranean due to commercialisation - and the beaches in Greece, in particular on Zante, are the turtle's last heaven where their babies can hatch.

Another species that relies on the clear waters around Zante is the Monachus Monachus seal (often called the monk seal). The seals are the *most *endangered species in Europe, with only a few hundred animals remaining in the Mediterranean. Dolphins can also sometimes be seen of the coast of Zante, making an impressive display as they dance in and out of the calm sea.

Zante also has many types of flowers and while these are best viewed in the spring and summer there are flowers in bloom all year round. The forests are rich with birds and many migratory birds stop off at the island for a rest before continuing their journey.

For more detailed accounts of the Caretta Caretta turtles, Monk seals, flowers, birds and other wildlife to be found on Zakynthos please follow the links below.

Sports and nature image

Nightlife info

You can enjoy your dinner under the sounds of Cantada (traditional zakynthian music) in many of the local restaurants. These resorts are full of restaurants, tavernas and cafeterias for those who prefer a relaxing night. If you are fun of crazy entertainment, the suitable resorts are Argassi, Tsilivi, the famous Laganas, Alykes and Kalamaki.

These are famous and cosmopolitan tourist centers and during summer are full of crowd. For this reason there are concentrated many bars, clubs and discos. The entertainment is ongoing; the party begins early in the evening and continues (most of times) till sunrise! The music is loud and dancing never stops! Tip: Zakynthos Zante nightlife is crazy and exciting!!!!

Nightlife image

Culture and history info

The oldest findings of bone fossils in the bay of Laganas are from the Palaeolithic era.

According of Homer, the first inhabitant of the island was Prince Zakynthos, the son of King Dardanos of Troy, who arrived here between 1500 and 1600 B.C. Thereafter, the island was inhabited by the Arcadians, whose culture developed through the exploitation of the fertile soil. They went on to found colonies (the well-known Zakantha in Spain, whose culture flourished for more than a thousand years, until 218 BC when it was destroyed by Annivas). Another colony was also Kodonies in Crete.

Afterwards, Zakynthos was conquered by King Arkisos of Cephalonia and was subsequently reconquered by the famous Ulysses. Upon Ulysses return to Ithaca and with Neoptolemos' mediation, a treaty was signed granting autonomy and democracy on the island, the first in the Hellenic area.

In the 6th century BC, silver currency was initiated, which depicts Apollon three-legged. At the beginning of the Persian War Zakynthos remained neutral, but in the battle of Plataies it took part against the Persians, and they beat them back to Asia.

From 455 B.C. Zakynthos was allied with the Athenians and with Corfu, and faced together the Corinthians. After the defeat of the Athenians in Cicily, Zakynthos was conquered by the Lacdaimonias (Sparta), who imposed an oligarchic regime. Later on, the inhabitants rebelled and re-established democracy.

During the Macedonian War, the island was occupied by the Macedonians, and afterwards by the Romans. After the first years under the command of a Roman governor, the island was granted the right to be governed by its own laws, have its own municipality, parliament, legislature, and currency with a local symbol. This era contributed to a great cultural development on Zakynthos.

In 34 A.D. Maria Magdalena and Maria Klopa, on their way to Rome, brought Christianity to the island and the name of the village Maries is a proof of this fact. Every year there is a great ceremony and feast to commemorate this event.

Constantine the Great, during the Byzantine era, included Zakynthos in the province of Illyria. During this time the island suffered from pirates and, later on, also from the Crusaders, passing from the East to the West.

In 1084, the island was occupied by the Venetians; and from the end of the 12th century until 1357, by the French.

In 1357, the De Toki dynasty settled on the island. They contributed to administrative and economic organization, which resulted in an important growth and development of Zakynthos until the Turks attacked and the people had to escape from the island to the Peloponnesian mainland.

In 1485, the Venetians occupied the island again and called back the inhabitants to their fields and homes. In the famous Libro d`Oro are recorded the names of the Venetian nobility. The island developed, and the city was reconstructed in an impressive architectural style. From these times on, Zakynthos was named the Florence of Greece. Separation of the population into "nobili", "civili" and "popolari" took place. The popolari rebelled against the nobili. The revolution is also well known as the "rebellion of the popolari".

With the French Revolution in 1789 the Zakynthians brought the ideals of social equity and justice on the island. On July 4, 1797, the French democratic flag was raised on the castle of Zakynthos. Dicrimination was abolished and schools for all children were established.

In October 1798, the Turkish fleet occupied Zakynthos. On March 21, 1800, a treaty between Turkey and Russia was signed. This contract established the first independent Greek State of the Seven Islands and was effective for seven years.

In 1809, the British fleet occupied Zakynthos, and Zakynthos then became the titular capital of the Ionian State. At the same time, the rest of Greece was under Turkish occupation. With a base in Zakynthos, the Philiki Etairia (Company of Friends) promoted the rebellion against the Turks.

In 1830, Greece became independent. Then in 1851, a member of Parliament Ioannis Typaldos Kapelatos suggested the union of the Seven Islands with Greece. The British reacted violently, but the Zakynthians under leadership of Constantine Lamvardos carried on the struggle for the union with Greece. Finally, on May 21 in 1864, the Greek flag was raised on the island.

During World War II, the Italians and the Germans occupied Zakynthos until its liberation on September 12, 1944.

The big earthquake in 1953, together with a seven-day firestorm, destroyed most of the monuments of cultural development on the island and the few still remaining give only a slight hint of its glorious past. In the Museum, you can see the miniature of the town before the earthquake.

Culture and history image
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