History of Zakynthos
Zante is a lush-green island with fertile plains and a pleasant climate. It extends over 406 km2 and its coastline length reaches 123 km. The alternation of the landscape resulting in a wide variety of beaches is very interesting. So, if you prefer peaceful sandy beaches with clear blue waters located in calm coves, you should go to the southeastern part of the island. If, on the other hand, you like impressive rocks and are interested in the seabed, you should prefer the western part of the island.
The Venetians, who governed Zante between 1484 and 1797, called the island “Fioro di Levante" (the flower of the East), because more than 7,000 types of flowers can be found on the island. Zakynthos (known around the world as "Zante") is the third biggest island of the Ionian Sea after Corfu and Kefalonia. Zakynthos, son of Dardanos, king of Phrygia, seems to have been the first inhabitant of the island, who also built the acropolis possibly in the location where the Venetian castle was later built.
The Venetian influence is obvious in the island architecture, in spite of all the disasters it has suffered because of its earthquake-prone ground. Historical buildings and churches disappeared as a result of the disastrous earthquake of 1953 and the following fires. The treasures of these buildings were also buried in the debris. The town of Zante was restored in compliance with a particularly strict antiseismic regulation, while its older architectural features were reviewed to a large extent. Apart from the culture, the sea turtle Caretta-Caretta and the seal Monachus-Monachus are also protected in Zante.
Two small and isolated islands, known as Strofadia or Strofades, emerge from the waters of the Ionian Sea at 45 km SW of Zante and 78 km to the west of cape Katakolo of the Peloponnese. During the ancient times they were known as “Plota Nisia” (floating islands), because it really looks as if they were floating. The bigger of the two is known as Stamfani, while the smaller one is Arpyia (Arpina). A ledge links the two islets together. In Arpyia you will find the majestic Metamorfoseos monastery (13th century) surrounded by high walls. The patron-saint of Zante Aghios Dionysios lived here.