Zakynthos or Zante Island
the southernmost of the lonian islands, owes its name to the son
of Dardanos, the king of Troy, who according to myth built the
first city here. It is also mentioned in "The Iliad".
Αll who came to this island fell under its spell. The
Venetians baptized it "the flower of the Orient" (Fior'
di Levante). Others gave it just as evocative names like
"earthly paradise", and "Perfumed Isle", while
Dionysios Solomos, the father of modern Greek poetry and a native
son, wrote "Zakynthos could make one forget the Elysian
No one who has been here can forget the
emerald green of its sea, its pine-studded mountains, its
musical people and their hospitality. The first thing to
welcome you, as soon as you step off the ferryboat, is the
town of Zakynthos. Though it lost all but three of its
buildings in the earthquake of 1953, the town has been
meticulously reconstructed and its former layout has been
Zakynthos today has pleasantly arcaded wide
streets, spacious squares imposing buildings and cheerful
houses. The Museum of Post-Byzantine Art on Solomos Square
contains treasures salvaged from the island's historic
Οn the waterfront, one should visit
the churches of Agios Dionysios, the island's patron saint,
with its tall campanile, and of Agios Nikolas tou Μοlου,
a church out of the Italian Renaissance with, surprisingly, a
l7th century Byzantine belfry. If you walk along the
flagstoned coastal promenade, the so-called Strata Marina
between the two churches, at dusk, you'll get the true
flavour of the tοwn Sometimes it seems as if the whole
population is out enjoying the ritual of the evening stroll.
The street is lined with small cafes and
shops selling folk art. Don't leave before tasting the famous Zakynthos
"mandolato" or nougat; it's a real treat. The town
is watched over by the Venetian fortress on the hill above.
Οnly the gate, outer walls and battlements still stand.
But from this vantage point a spectacular view can be had of
the harbour, fertils inland plain and beaches as far as the
eye can see. Nearby is another hill, the Lofos Strani where
Solomos Dionysios composed the famous, the father of modern
Greek poetry "Hymn to Libertγ", which became
the Greek National Anthem.
Zakynthos is almost triangular in shape, with
two green mountainous promontories extending into the sea to
form the huge bay of Laganas. There are more pine-covered
mountains and hills in the north, but the centre is gentle and
lush, richly planted with currant vines, olive trees, almonds
and seasonal vegetables. There are dozens of beaches to choose
from, sandy and sheltered with invitingly sparkling water.
Flowers of every kind fill every available
space, filling the air with the scent that so enraptured
visitors of old. With a sunny climate most of fhe year and
good roads to facilitate exploring, Zakinthas lends itself to
holiday- making in spring and fall as well as summer. Some of
the best known summer resorts are Argassi, Aiikes, Planos,
Tsilivi, Vassilikos, Gerakas and Porto Roma, while Laganas is
the most famous of all. Its long beach and wide range of
facilities attract thousands of tourists from Μay through
At Laganas, Vassilikos and Gerakas, the endangered sea
turtle Caretta Caretta also comes to lay her eggs.
Apart from its beaches, Zakynthos has many
other wonderful places to get to know. For exampie, there's
the village of Anafonitria, with its fascinating l5th
century monastery dedicated to the Virgin. And Maherado, with
its two l4th century churches, the half-ruined Ypapanti and
the sumptuously decorated Agia Mavra. Or the mountain village
of Keri, where sooner or later everyone goes to admire
the sunset and the stupendous view of the seacaves below.
Heading north, don't miss Volimes or Skinari at
the tip of the island. Volimes has a wonderful Venetian tower
and lovely old churches with frescoes dating to the l2th and
l4th centuries, while Skinari is where the famous Blue Caves
Inside the caves, the refraction of the
sun's rays on the water creates an unbelievable array of blue
and silver tones of a dreamlike beauty.
Further south is the cave of Xingia, where
there is a spring of suiphurous water that bubbles up white,
clouding the sea up to 500 metres from shore.
Area 402. sq.km
Coastline 123 km.
Mandolato and Pasteli
Carnival Festivities In the town of Zakynthos
Ports of entry/exit Zakynthos
Yacht supply station Zakynthos
Museums Museum of Post-Byzantine Art