Zákynthos (Zante) is a verdant island endowed with fertile valleys and a temperate climate (area: 406 sq. km; coastline: 123 km). Its landscape diversity has resulted in different types of beaches: there are sandy beaches in secluded coves where the tranquil waters are deep blue on the island’s southeastern part; yet, if rugged cliffs and an interesting underwater world are to your liking, try the western part of the island.
The Venetians, who ruled Zákynthos from 1484 to 1797, called the island “Fioro di Levante” (flower of the East) as there are over 7,000 species of flowers on Zákynthos. The third largest island of the Ionian Sea, after Corfu and Kefaloniá, is internationally known as “Zante”. Zákynthos is said to have been the island’s first inhabitant and the ancient acropolis is attributed to him. He was the son of Dardanos who ruled the ancient kingdom of Frigia. A Venetian fort was built at later times on the site. The city of Zakynthos is the capital of the island and at the same time the island’s port.
Taking a tour around the city it’s great to visit: The Solomos Square surrounded by buildings with characteristic traditional architectural features of the island, arch-shaped windows and arcades; the Post- Byzantine Museum of Zante in Solomos square, exhibits treasures such as statues trimmed with gold, icons and art woodcuts; the coastal road known as Strata Marina, which is one of the most frequented part of the city, with cafes, bars and restaurants, from the Solomos Square up to the church of the patron-saint Aghios Dionysios; the Aghios Markos square, place where in 1797 the revolutionaries burnt the Libro d’ Oro and planted the tree of freedom; the Venetian Castle situated on a hill, 2 km away from the town in the place of the old acropolis named Psofis and the Stranis hill, offering a great view, where the poet Dionysios Solomos was inspired to write the ‘Hymn to Liberty’.