The island of Zakynthos or Zante (406 sq km, 42,000 inhabitants) is located in the Ionian Sea, in the archipelago of the Ionian islands. The island is the third largest island of the archipelago, and if we exclude the distant island of Citèra (Kythera), it is also the southernmost island of the archipelago. In fact, Zakynthos is located in front of the Peloponnese coasts. The island has an area of 406 km² and has a maximum length of 40 km and a maximum width of 20 km.
THE HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY OF THE ISLAND
Inhabited since prehistoric times, the island was in historical times one of the bases used by the Greeks in the colonization of Southern Italy. The island became part of the Roman Empire in 146 BC. becoming part of the province of Achaia. In 395 AD the island became part of the Byzantine Empire to which it remained linked until 1185.
In 1185 Zakynthos became part of the Palatine County of Kefalonia and Zante as part of the Kingdom of Sicily first and then of the Kingdom of Naples. The Neapolitan control lasted until 1479, when the Turks occupied the island. The Turkish occupation ended five years later, in 1484 when Zakynthos became a possession of Venice to which it remained linked until the end of the Serenissima Republic (1797). Zakynthos (Zante) was ruled by the Republic of Venice for more than three centuries.
The island, very rich in vegetation and woods, is formed towards the southeast by flat areas. While towards the west there are mountain ranges that end up in rugged and spectacular cliffs along the coast. The highest peak of the island, Mount Vrahionas, is located in the central-western area of the island and reaches 756 meters in height.
SPECTACULAR CLIFFS AND LONG BEACHES
The most important inhabited center of the island, the city of Zakynthos (Zante), is located along the southern part of the east coast. This part of the coast together with the southern coast is the most developed from the tourist point of view and the most densely inhabited and full of beaches. The western coast is instead wild, rocky and with cliffs overlooking the sea. The city of Zante (Zakynthos) is dominated by a Venetian fortress, locally called Kastro. In the town there are the church of Dionisyos with interesting frescoes and two museums: the Byzantine Museum, with frescoes and icons, and the Dionysios Solomos Museum, dedicated to the father of modern Greek poetry.
The island thrives on tourism, famous are the sea turtles of Zakynthos (Caretta Caretta), which reproduce in the bay of Laganas. Another activity that is an important source of income for the inhabitants of the island is agriculture, the island produces oil, wine, fruit and citrus fruits.
Zakynthos beaches are located along the east coast and along the south coast. Among the best known and most frequented are those of Laganas, with a 10 km long beach, Kalamati, Gerakas, Kaminia, Makris Gialos, Xigia, etc. Xigia beach is known for its sulfur-rich underwater springs. The spectacular west coast overlooking the sea and full of caves and ravines can be visited with one of the boat excursions that leave from Agios Nikolaos or Capo Skinari. With these excursions that usually reach Porto Vromi it is possible to visit the Blue Caves and the famous shipwreck beach in Navagio Bay. This beach is also visible from the coast from a belvedere located on the cliff above.
HOW TO GET TO ZAKYNTHOS (ZANTE)
FLIGHTS: The island has an international airport located in the southern part near the town of Kalamaki. There are regular flights to Athens, Kefalonia and Kithira. During the summer, Zakynthos is connected by numerous flights with most European countries. There are flights from the UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Russia etc.
FERRIES: There are ferry connections to Kyllini, Corfu and Kefalonia.