The monastery of Anafonitria (dating
to the 15th century) is the best known monastery of Zakynthos,
since the locally worshipped saint and protector of the
island, Aghios Dionysios, was abbot here. Another two
interesting manasteries are to be found in the remote
northwestern part of the island; Aghios Georgios (of 1530)
which looks like a fortress, and the abandoned Aghios
Andreas (of 1640).
The graves of the poets Dionysios Solomos and Andreas
Kalvos are housed in the small Museum of Eminent Zakynthians
along with many other personal belongings of those two
renowned Zakynthos' s spiritual children, whose poems
made an epoch.
The Navagio beach (meaning shipwreck) is rightly thought
of as one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.
It is only accessible by boat and there are daily boats
leaving from the nearby Porto Vromi bay. Crytal clear
waters break on a dazzling white sandy beach, where the
much photographed shipwreck lies half-burried. The rocks
descesteeply behind it completing a picture of unique
and wild beauty.
A warm-hearted and fun-loving
people, the Zakynthians' unfailing good humour is best expressed
in the kantadhes, sung by a group of four men accompanied by string
instrumants. Today, you can enjoy listening to the kantadhes in
most of the island's taverns.
The blue caves, at the northwest coast of the island, is a sight
really worth seeing. You can go there by one of the excursion
boats leaving from the small haven of Aghios Nikolaos or from
cape Skinari. If you have your own boat, you will have the chance
to discover a number of equally impressive sea caves and remote
little sandy bays dotting the west coast.
Map of Ionian Islands
Map of Zakynthos
The Lagana bay counts
among one of the most important breeding - grounds of the Caretta
Caretta sea turtle. Unhappily today, a large part of the beach
has surrendered to development projects, leaving only some protected
niches for the turtles to lay their eggs. Keep in mind that, during
the summer months, approach by sea to certain areas in the Lagana
bay is forbidden.
Ever since the prehistoric times and the times of Myth, the Eptanisa,
as are called the islands of the Ionian sea, have been linked
by strong bonds. The islands of Zakynthos, Kefallonia and Ithaca
constituted the kingdom of Udysses, while Corfu was a friend and
ally of Zakynthos all through antiquity. The Romans (146 BC to
337 AD) granted many privileges to the island, its next rulers
though, the Byzantines (337 - 1204) were not able to offer protection
to the island which was repeatedly ravaged by innumerable invaders.
Zakynthos was later handed over to the Franks (1204 - 1479). The
French took possession of the island for a short while (1797 -
1798 and 1807 - 1815) bringing along an air of democracy, which
was soon to vanish however, for as long as the British ruled in
the Eptanisa, from 1815 till 1864, when the islands were finally
united to the new state of Greece (Hellas).
In 1953, a terrifying
earthquake shook the islands of the Ionian sea, bringing down
nearly all Zakynthos's old mansions and churches. A tremendous
effort has been put by devoted archaeologists who managed to recover
precious wall-paintings, remove intact icon screens and unburu
icons and other priceless items among the churches' ruins. These
treasures have been excellently preserved and are now exhibited
at the Byzantine Museum in the town of Zakynthos.
The entire southeastern part of the island, from the Alikon bay
down to the cape Gerakas, is a tourist's paradise. Large luxury
hotels as well as some excellent smaller and cosier hotels, restaurants,
clubs, beach bars, aquatic sports and marvellous sandy beaches,
attract thousands of tourists each summer.