This description provides information of ancient sites, seaside resorts, churches, monasteries, landscapes and small towns and villages. Additional details can be found in various books printed on Greece, such as the 'Blue Guide to Greece.' The names of places conform to the accented Greek pronounciation which would be the one a traveller would face upon a potential visit.
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Zakynthos - Zakinthos
also spelled ZAKYNTHOS, Modern Greek ZÁKINTHOS, French ZANTE, Italian ZACINTO, (pop 30,014);southernmost and third largest of the Ionian Islands of Greece, lying off the west coast of the Peloponnese. Tiny Strotádhes Islands lie to the south. Zacynthus is indented by a deep bay with high cliffs on its south coast. The island has an area of 155 square miles (402 square km) The centre of Zacynthus is a fertile plain bounded on the west by barren limestone hills, 700 to 1,600 feet (200 to 500 m) high, with many sinkholes and steep sea cliffs. The hills culminate in the 2,480-foot (756-metre-) high Mount Vrakhiónas. The plain is bounded on the east by a low range of hills. The capital of the island Zákinthos town, lies on the east coast on the site of ancient Zacynthus; it is the seat of a metropolitan bishop.
Zacynthus was named for an ancient Arcadian chief; the 5th-century-BC historian Thucydides said that it was colonized by Achaeans from the Peloponnese. The island was used by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War and again in 374 BC. The Romans captured it in 211 and 191, annexing Zacynthus to keep it out of the Achaean League.
Zacynthus was repeatedly pillaged by the Vandals and Saracens, and in 1185 it was taken, along with the islands of Corfu, Cephalonia, and Leucas, by Margarito of Brindisi. From 1194 to 1328 it was held by the Orsini and from 1328 to 1482 was in the possession of the counts of Tocchi. Venice was granted the island in 1485, to prevent its falling to the Turks, and held it until 1797, when it was ceded to France by the Treaty of Campo Formio. After a short Russian occupation, it became (1815) part of the British protectorate of the Ionian Islands; it prospered with the revival of Greek culture. In 1864 Zacynthus was ceded, with the other Ionian Islands, to Greece. Both the central plains and eastern hills are cultivated. The chief exports are currants, olive oil, wines, and fresh fruit.
By air daily from Athens via Cephalonia. By boat from Killini, near Patras. Frequent connection to Cephalonia.
TOWNS AND VILLAGES - ZAKINTHOS TOWN
The town of Zakynthos has retained a lot of its former beauty and traditional atmosphere even though it was mostly rebuilt following the destructive earthquake of 1953. It is built on the foothills of the hill topped by the venetian fort. Places worth visiting are the promenade, Strata Marina and the Plaza St Marko. The commercial centre retains a number of the characteristic arches and there are a lot of horse-drawn carriages. Museums include the Post-Byzantine Museum and that of D Solomos, the National Poet of Greece who wrote the National Anthem: "The Hymn(Ode) to Freedom" in 1823, at the height of the revolution for the liberation of Greece from the Turks. The 18th c. monastery of St Dionysus is in the south of the town and well worth a visit. The church of St George of "Filikon" (the Brotherhood) at Bohali is the site of the Meeting and Oath taking of a number of the heroes of the revolution. The town boasts many culinary specialities such as fine wines and cheeses as well as local perfumes. There are sport facilities at many of the large hotels in the town as well as at the resort of Laganas.
Popular village 5km south of Zakynthos town combining mountain and sea. Interesting castle of Domenegi nearby.
Tourist resort 16 km south of the town with a large beach with white sand which is famous for the protected turtle careta-careta which lays its eggs here every August. At these times please keep noise to a minimum as they get frightened easily. The fantastic beach of Porta Roma is nearby and so is the Monastery of Panagia Skopiotissa. Just south of Vasilikos is the bay of Geraka with a magnificent beach.
The main sea resort of the island, 8km from the town with crystal clear water and a 9km beach!. There are frequent boat rides to many outlying beaches and fishing grounds.
Interesting village with the beautiful Limni (lake) Keriou with fine sand opposite the island of marathonisi. Stone houses, narrow streets and the tiled square give it a lovely atmosphere. There are ancient graves and the Church of Panagia Keriotissa boasts a spectacular baroque Temple. The sunset from the lighthouse is unforgettable.
Mountain village 10 km from the town known for its church of St Mavra as well as the June festival of the church.
Very traditional old village retaining strong folk traditions of the island.
Village close to the world famous "Blue Grotto", comparable with the similar cave at Capri. You can also go to the cave by boat from Alykes if you wake up early in the morning. The cave was discovered in 1897 and has two large chambers. Must not be missed.
Resort 18 km from the town. The road to it goes through Planos and Gerakari with their spas. Alykes is well known resort with a 2km beach and many excellent eating places. The 16th c. monastery of St John the Baptist is nearby. Navagio (wreck) and Skinari with its spa cave and another blue cave with spectacular sun reflections with changing colours are beautiful areas close by worth visiting.