Zakynthos (also spelled Zakinthos; Greek: Ζάκυνθος, romanized: Zákynthos [ˈzacinθos] (listen); Italian: Zacinto [dzaˈtʃinto]) or Zante; Greek: Τζάντε, romanized: Tzánte (/ˈzænti/, also US: /ˈzɑːnteɪ/, Italian: [ˈdzante]; [ˈdza(n)de]; from the Venetian form), is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. Zakynthos is a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and its only municipality. It covers an area of 405.55 km2 (156.6 sq mi) and its coastline is roughly 123 km (76 mi) in length. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. In Greek mythology the island was said to be named after Zakynthos, the son of the legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus.
Zakynthos is a tourist destination, with an international airport served by charter flights from northern Europe. The island's nickname is "the Flower of the Levant", bestowed upon it by the Venetians who were in possession of Zakynthos from 1484–1797.
View of Zakynthos City
Zakynthos within Greece
Zakynthos within Greece
|• Vice Governor||Eleutherios Niotopoulos|
|• Mayor||Pavlos Kolokotsas|
|• Total||405.55 km2 (156.58 sq mi)|
|• Density||100/km2 (260/sq mi)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
The ancient Greek poet Homer mentioned Zakynthos in the Iliad and the Odyssey, stating that its first inhabitants were the son of King Dardanos of Arcadia, called Zakynthos, and his men. Before being renamed Zakynthos, the island was said to have been called Hyrie. Zakynthos was then conquered by King Arkesios of Kefalonia, and then by Odysseus from Ithaca. Zakynthos participated in the Trojan War and is listed in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships which, if accurate, describes the geopolitical situation in early Greece at some time between the Late Bronze Age and the eighth century BCE. In the Odyssey, Homer mentions 20 nobles from Zakynthos among a total of 108 of Penelope's suitors.
The Athenian military commander Tolmides concluded an alliance with Zakynthos during the First Peloponnesian War sometime between 459 and 446 BC. In 430 BC, the Lacedaemonians made an unsuccessful attack upon Zakynthos. The Zakynthians are then enumerated among the autonomous allies of Athens in the disastrous Sicilian expedition. After the Peloponnesian War, Zakynthos seems to have passed under the supremacy of Sparta because in 374 BC, Timotheus, an Athenian commander, on his return from Kerkyra, landed some Zakynthian exiles on the island and assisted them in establishing a fortified post. These exiles must have belonged to the anti-Spartan party as the Zakynthian rulers applied for help to the Spartans who sent a fleet of 25 to the island.
The importance of this alliance for Athens was that it provided them with a source of tar. Tar is a more effective protector of ship planking than pitch (which is made from pine trees). The Athenian trireme fleet needed protection from rot, decay and the teredo, so this new source of tar was valuable to them. The tar was dredged up from the bottom of a lake (now known as Lake Keri) using leafy myrtle branches tied to the ends of poles. It was then collected in pots and could be carried to the beach and swabbed directly onto ship hulls. Alternatively, the tar could be shipped to the Athenian naval yard at the Piraeus for storage.
Philip V of Macedon seized Zakynthos in the early 3rd century BC when it was a member of the Aetolian League. In 211 BC, the Roman praetor Marcus Valerius Laevinus took the city of Zakynthos with the exception of the citadel. It was afterwards restored to Philip V of Macedon. The Roman general Marcus Fulvius Nobilior finally conquered Zakynthos in 191 BC for Rome. In the Mithridatic War, it was attacked by Archelaus, the general of Mithridates, but he was repulsed.
During the Nazi occupation of Greece, Mayor Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos refused Nazi orders to turn in a list of the members of the town's Jewish community for deportation to the death camps. Instead they hid all (or most) of the town's Jewish people in rural villages. According to some sources, all 275 Jews of Zakynthos survived the war. Both were later recognized as Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem. In contrast, over 80% of Greek Jews were deported to death camps and perished in the Holocaust.
Zakynthos was hit by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in 1953, which destroyed most of the buildings on the island. Subsequently, all buildings have been fortified to protect against further tremors. On 26 October 2018, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake south of the island caused no injuries but damaged the local pier and a 13th Century monastery.
Zakynthos lies in the eastern part of the Ionian sea, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of the Greek (Peloponnese) mainland. The island of Kefalonia lies 15 kilometres (9 miles) on the north. It is the southernmost of the main group of the Ionian islands (not counting distant Kythira). Zakynthos is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) long and 20 kilometres (12 miles) wide, and covers an area of 405.55 km2 (156.58 sq mi). Its coastline is approximately 123 km (76 mi) long. According to the 2011 census, the island has a population of 40,759. The highest point is Vrachionas, at 758 metres (2,487 feet).
Zakynthos has the shape of an arrowhead, with the "tip" (Cape Skinari) pointing northwest. The western half of the island is a mountainous plateau and the southwest coast consists mostly of steep cliffs. The eastern half is a densely populated fertile plain with long sandy beaches, interrupted with several isolated hills, notably Bochali which overlooks the city and the peninsula of Vasilikos in the northeast. The peninsulas of Vassilikos to the north and Marathia to the south enclose the wide and shallow bay of Laganas on the southeast part of the island.
The capital, which has the same name as the prefecture, is the town of Zakynthos. It lies on the eastern part of the northern coast. Apart from the official name, it is also called Chora (i.e. the Town, a common denomination in Greece when the name of the island itself is the same as the name of the principal town). The port of Zakynthos has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the mainland. Another ferry connects the village of Agios Nikolaos to Argostoli on Kefalonia. Minor uninhabited islands around Zakynthos included in the municipality and regional unit are: Marathonisi, Pelouzo, Agios Sostis in the Laganas bay; Agios Nikolaos, near the eponymous harbor on the northern tip; and Agios Ioannis near Porto Vromi on the western coast.
The mild Mediterranean climate and plentiful winter rainfall endow the island with dense vegetation. The principal agricultural products are olive oil, currants, grapes and citrus fruit. The Zante currant is a small sweet seedless grape that is native to the island.
Famous landmarks include the Navagio beach, a cove on the northwest shore isolated by high cliffs and accessible only by boat. Numerous natural "blue caves" are cut into cliffs around Cape Skinari, and accessible only by small boats. Keri, on the south of the island, is a mountain village with a lighthouse. The whole western shore from Keri to Skinari contains rock formations including arches.
Northern and eastern shores feature numerous wide sandy beaches, some of which attract tourists in summer months. The largest resort is Laganas. Marathonissi islet (also known as "Turtle Island") near Limni Keriou has tropical vegetation, turquoise waters, beaches, and sea caves. Bochali hill above the Zakynthos town contains a small Venetian castle.
As a part of the 2011 Kallikratis government reform, the regional unit Zakynthos was created out of the former prefecture Zakynthos (Greek: Νομός Ζακύνθου). The prefecture had the same territory as the present regional unit. At the same reform, the current municipality Zakynthos was created out of the 6 former municipalities:
In 2006, there were 507 births and 407 deaths. Zakynthos is one of the regions with the highest population growth in Greece. It is also one of the only three prefectures (out of 54) in which the rural population has a positive growth rate. In fact, the rural population's growth rate is higher than that of the urban population in Zakynthos. Out of the 507 births, 141 were in urban areas and 366 were in rural areas. Out of the 407 deaths, 124 were in urban areas and 283 were in rural areas.
The population of Zakynthos suffers from an exceptionally high rate of declared blindness of about 1.8%. That rate is about nine times the average in Europe, according to the WHO and in April 2012 the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity launched an investigation into disability benefits as out of the 650 receiving them at least 600 were falsely declared blind.
Since Zakynthos was under the rule of the Venetian Republic it had closer contact with Western literary trends than other areas inhabited by Greek people.
An early literary work from the island is the Rimada, a 16th-century romance in verse about Alexander the Great. Notable early writers include Tzanes Koroneos (author of Andragathemata of Bouas, a work of historical fiction), Nikolaos Loukanis (a 16th-century Renaissance humanist), Markos Defaranas (1503–1575, possibly the author of the Rimada), Pachomios Roussanos (1508–1553, a scholar and theologian), and Antonio Catiforo (1685–1763, a grammarian and satirist).
Towards the end of the 18th century, the so-called Heptanese School of Literature developed, consisting mainly of lyrical and satirical poetry in the vein of Romanticism prevalent throughout Europe at the time. It also contributed to the development of modern Greek theatre. An important poet of this school was Zakynthian Dionysios Solomos; another was Nikolaos Koutouzis, who also figures prominently in the Heptanese School of Painting. Others include Georgios Tertsetis (1800–1873, politician, poet, and historian).
The island is covered by a network of roads, particularly the flat eastern part, with main routes linking the capital with Volimes on north, Keri on the south, and peninsula Vassiliki on the west. The road between Volimes and Lithakia is the spine of the western half of the island.
The island has one airport, Zakynthos International Airport (on former GR-35) which connects flights with other Greek airports and numerous tourist charters. It is located 4.3 km (2.7 mi) from Zakynthos and opened in 1972.
Zakynthos also features two ports: the main port, located in the capital, and another in the village of Agios Nikolaos. From the main port there is a connection to the port of Kyllini, which is the usual route for arrivals to the island by sea from the mainland. From the port of Agios Nikolaos there is a connection to the island of Kefalonia.
Two academic departments belonging to the Technological Educational Institute of the Ionian Islands have been located on Zakynthos since 2003. The department of Environmental Technology and Ecology has developed laboratory and field station infrastructures along Zakynthos and the Strofades islets. The other department is the Protection and Conservation of Cultural Heritage.
Freshwater resources on Zakynthos are limited, and as a result a Greek-Norwegian educational collaboration is being established on the island. The Science Park Zakynthos is a collaboration between the Technological Educational Institute of the Ionian Islands (TEI), the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), and the Therianos Villas and Therianos Family Farm on Zakynthos.
Among the most famous Zakynthians is the 19th-century poet Dionysios Solomos, whose statue adorns the main town square. The Italian poet Ugo Foscolo was born in Zakynthos. The famous Renaissance surgeon and anatomist Andreas Vesalius died on Zakynthos after being shipwrecked while making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His body is thought to have been buried on the island but the site has been lost. Early 19th-century poet and playwright Elizabeth Moutzan-Martinegou was also born there.
Since the mid 1980s, Zakynthos (known as Zante) has become a hub for 18–30 year old tourists leading to Alykanas and Laganas (former quiet villages) becoming hometowns of clubbing hotels, nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Alykanas is now the busiest destination on the island for British holidaymakers, surpassing Tsivili and Kalamaki, which are more popular with families.
The 1953 Ionian earthquake (also known as the Great Kefalonia earthquake) struck the southern Ionian Islands in Greece on August 12. In mid-August there were over 113 recorded earthquakes in the region between Kefalonia and Zakynthos, and the most destructive was the August 12 earthquake. The event measured 6.8 on the moment magnitude scale, raised the whole island of Kefalonia by 60 cm (24 in), and caused widespread damage throughout the islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos. The maximum felt intensity of shaking was X (extreme) on the Mercalli intensity scale. Between 445 and 800 people were killed.A.O. Katastari F.C.
A.O. Katastari Football Club is a Greek football club, based in Katastari, Zakynthos, Greece.A.P.S. Zakynthos
A.P.S. Zakynthos (Greek: Α.Π.Σ. Ζάκυνθος, Αθλητικός Ποδοσφαιρικός Σύλλογος Ζάκυνθος) is a Greek football club, based in Zakynthos, Greece. It was founded in 1961.Ampelokipoi, Zakynthos
Ampelokipoi (Greek: Αμπελόκηποι meaning "vineyard") is a village and a community in the southern part of the island of Zakynthos. It is part of the municipal unit of Zakynthos (city). In 2011 its population was 1,606 for the village and 1,930 for the community, including the village Kalpaki. It is 3 km northwest of Kalamaki, 4 km north of Laganas and 3 km southwest of Zakynthos city. The Zakynthos International Airport is 1 km southeast.Ano Gerakari
Ano Gerakari (Greek: Άνω Γερακάρι) is a hilltop village and a community in the municipal unit of Alykes on the island of Zakynthos, Greece. In 2011 its population was 176 for the village and 709 for the community, which includes the villages Alonia and Kastelia. Ano Gerakari is adjacent to the northwest of Meso Gerakari, 4 km east of Katastari and 9 km northwest of Zakynthos city. It suffered great damage from the 1953 Ionian earthquake.
With 526 inhabitants in 2011, Alonia is the largest village of the community. It lies northwest of Ano Gerakari, at the foot of the hill.Argassi
Argasi (Greek: Αργάσι) is a village and a community in the southern part of the island of Zakynthos. It is part of the municipal unit of Zakynthos (city). In 2011 its population was 639 for the village and 1,266 for the community, including the village Kalliteros. It is situated on the east coast of the island, at the northwestern foot of the hill Skopos. It is 3 km southeast of Zakynthos city and 3 km northeast of Kalamaki. Argasi is a popular beach resort.County Palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos
The County Palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos existed from 1185 to 1479 as part of the Kingdom of Sicily. The title and the right to rule the Ionian islands of Cephalonia and Zakynthos was originally given to Margaritus of Brindisi for his services to William II, King of Sicily, in 1185.Following Margaritus, the county passed on to a branch of the Orsini family until 1325, when it passed briefly to Angevins and then, from 1357, to the Tocco family. The Tocco used the county as a springboard for their acquisition of lands in the Greek mainland, and were successful in gaining control over the Despotate of Epirus in 1411. However, facing the advance of the Ottoman Turks they successively lost their mainland territories and were once again reduced to the County Palatine, which they held until 1479, when it was divided between Venice and the Ottomans. Zakynthos was put under the direct rule of Venice.Dionysios Solomos
Dionysios Solomos (; Greek: Διονύσιος Σολωμός [ði.oniˈsios soloˈmos]; 8 April 1798 – 9 February 1857) was a Greek poet from Zakynthos, but his grandfather was from Candia (Heraklion) and moved to Zakynthos after the conquest by the Othomans in 1669. He is best known for writing the Hymn to Liberty (Greek: Ὕμνος εις την Ἐλευθερίαν, Ýmnos eis tīn Eleutherían), of which the first two stanzas, set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros, became the Greek and Cypriot national anthem in 1865. He was the central figure of the Heptanese School of poetry, and is considered the national poet of Greece—not only because he wrote the national anthem, but also because he contributed to the preservation of earlier poetic tradition and highlighted its usefulness to modern literature. Other notable poems include Ὁ Κρητικός (Τhe Cretan), Ἐλεύθεροι Πολιορκημένοι (The Free Besieged) and others. A characteristic of his work is that no poem except the Hymn to Liberty was completed, and almost nothing was published during his lifetime.Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands (Modern Greek: Ιόνια νησιά, Ionia nisia; Ancient Greek, Katharevousa: Ἰόνιοι Νῆσοι, Ionioi Nēsoi) are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese ("Seven Islands"; Ἑπτάνησα, Heptanēsa or Ἑπτάνησος, Heptanēsos; Italian: Eptaneso), but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones.
As a distinct historic region they date to the centuries-long Venetian rule, which preserved them from becoming part of the Ottoman Empire, and created a distinct cultural identity with many Italian influences. The Ionian Islands became part of the modern Greek state in 1864. Administratively today they belong to the Ionian Islands Region except for Kythera, which belongs to the Attica Region.Kalamaki, Zakynthos
Kalamaki (Greek: Καλαμάκι) is the name of a beach resort town on the Greek island of Zakynthos. It is located approximately 3 km northeast of the busy resort of Laganas, although despite the close proximity it maintains a much more relaxed atmosphere than its neighbour. It has experienced rapid growth in recent years, due to the growing influx of tourism with the number of charter flights to the area increasing twentyfold between 1983 and 1993. It is located on the south of the island, in the Bay of Laganas. The beach at Kalamaki is also a nesting place for the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle. As a consequence, the Greek government declared the beach as part of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. The Greek parliament had previously protected the area through the development of legislation in 1986. This led to bathing being banned at night, and sports such as water skiing being likewise banned.Kallithea, Zakynthos
Kallithea (Greek: Καλλιθέα), is a village and a community in the municipal unit of Alykes in the island of Zakynthos, Greece. In 2011 Kallithea's population was 238 people. It is situated at the eastern foot of the Vrachionas mountains, at about 60 m elevation. It is 3 km southeast of Katastari, 3 km southwest of Ano Gerakari, 3 km northwest of Agios Dimitrios and 12 km northwest of Zakynthos city. The farm of the Science Park Zakynthos, a Norwegian-Greek institute that focuses on sustainable water use, is situated in Kallithea. The village suffered great damage from the 1953 Ionian earthquake.Laganas
Laganas (Greek: Λαγανάς) is a village and a former municipality on the island of Zakynthos, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Zakynthos, of which it is a municipal unit. The municipal unit Laganas covers the southernmost part of Zakynthos. Its municipal seat was the town of Pantokratoras (pop. 925 in 2011). The municipal unit of Laganas has a land area of 74.104 km². Its largest towns are Mouzaki (pop. 1,702), Lithakia (pop. 1,307), Pantokratoras, Kalamaki (pop. 890), Laganas (pop. 729), and Keri (pop. 469). The central and eastern part of the municipal unit are flat, but there are hills up to 450 m elevation in the west. The Zakynthos International Airport lies in the eastern part of the municipal unit, near Kalamaki. The beach village Laganas, part of the community of Pantokratoras, is on the southeastern coast. A large part of Laganas is a national park, established for the protection of turtles.Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Cephalonia
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Cefalonia (Latin: Archdioecesis Corcyrensis, Zacynthiensis et Cephaloniensis) is an archdiocese comprising the Ionian islands of Corfu, Zakynthos and Cephalonia in western Greece.Roman Catholic Diocese of Cephalonia and Zakynthos
The Diocese of Cephalonia and Zakynthos (Latin: Dioecesis Cephaloniensis et Zacynthiensis, Italian: Cefalonia e Zante) was Roman Catholic diocese located on the Ionian Island of Cephalonia. It was suppressed in 1919.Tocco family
The family of Tocco (plural in Italian: Tocci/Tocchi; plural in Greek: Τόκκοι) was a noble house from Benevento of Longobard origins, which in the late 14th and 15th centuries came to prominence in western Greece as rulers of the Ionian Islands, County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos and the Despotate of Epirus.Vasilikos, Zakynthos
Vasilikos (Greek: Βασιλικός) is a village and a community in the southeastern part of the municipality and the island of Zakynthos. The community consists of the villages Vasilikos (population 285 in 2011), Agios Ioannis (pop. 8),
Ano Vasilikos (pop. 280) and Xirokastello (pop. 226) and the uninhabited island Kalonisi. The village Vasilikos is situated at the easternmost point of Zakynthos, 11 km southeast of Zakynthos (city). The village Xirokastello is situated halfway between Argasi and Vasilikos, at the eastern foot of the hill Skopos.
The Vasilikos peninsula in the south-east of the island comprises folded land with low, pine-forested mountains and quiet coves. Most of it has been protected from large-scale development because of the loggerhead turtles that breed on Gerakas beach. Vasilikos is the main community on the peninsula. It has a rugged coastline with numerous beaches, known for their good swimming conditions. Vasilikos is also famous for its hotels, villas and restaurants. The beach resort Porto Roma lies east of the village.Zakynthos (city)
Zakynthos (Greek: Ζάκυνθος, romanized: Zákynthos [ˈzacinθos] (listen)) or Zante (Greek: Τζάντε, romanized: Tzánte), is a city and a former municipality on the island of Zakynthos, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Zakynthos, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the capital of the island of Zakynthos. Apart from the official name Zakynthos, it is also called Chora (i.e. the Town), a common denomination in Greece when the name of the island itself is the same as the name of the principal town.
The municipal unit of Zákynthos lies in the easternmost part of the island and has a land area of 45.788 square kilometres (17.679 square miles) and a population of 16,810 at the 2011 census. It is subdivided into the communities Zakynthos (pop. 9,773), Ampelokipoi (1,930), Argasi (1,266), Vasilikos (799), Gaitani (1,899) and Bochali (1,143). The municipal unit also includes the Strofades islands, which lie about 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of Zákynthos Island.Zakynthos International Airport
Zakynthos International Airport "Dionysios Solomos" (IATA: ZTH, ICAO: LGZA) is an airport in Zakynthos, Greece.Zante currant
Zante currants, Corinth raisins, or Corinthian raisins, also called simply currants, are dried berries of the small, sweet, seedless grape cultivar 'Black Corinth' (Vitis vinifera). The name comes from the Anglo-French phrase "raisins de Corinthe" (grapes of Corinth) and the Ionian island of Zakynthos (Zante), which was once the major producer and exporter. It is not related to black, red or white currants, which are berries of shrubs in the genus Ribes and not usually prepared in dried form.
|Climate data for Zakynthos (1961–1990)|
|Record high °C (°F)||20.2
|Average high °C (°F)||14.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.3
|Average low °C (°F)||8.1
|Record low °C (°F)||−2.6
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||150.4
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||12.8||11.3||8.2||6.1||2.5||1.1||0.5||0.9||2.8||8.1||11.0||13.2||78.5|
|Average relative humidity (%)||74.3||72.8||72.8||71.7||67.8||62.8||59.3||61.2||66.7||71.7||76.0||75.3||69.4|
|Regional unit of Corfu|
|Regional unit of Cephalonia|
|Regional unit of Ithaca|
|Regional unit of Lefkada|
|Regional unit of Zakynthos|
Subdivisions of the municipality of Zakynthos
|Municipal unit of Alykes|
|Municipal unit of Arkadioi|
|Municipal unit of Artemisia|
|Municipal unit of Elatia|
|Municipal unit of Laganas|
|Municipal unit of Zakynthos (city)|