Sunday , August 9 2020

1571 The Battle of Lepanto and Celebration Programme.

1571 a reminder of the Lepanto and the battle our islanders took, centuries ago.

This weekend Zakyntyhos will be celebrating.

The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on the 7th October, 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, of which the Venetian Empire and the Spanish Empire were the main powers, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras, where the Ottoman forces sailing westwards from their naval station in Lepanto (the Venetian name of ancient Naupactus Ναύπακτος, Ottoman) met the fleet of the Holy League sailing east from Messina, Sicily. The Holy League was a coalition of European Catholic maritime states arranged by Pope Pius V and led by admiral John of Austria, as agreed between Philip II of Spain, who largely financed the League, and the Venetian Republic (main contributor of ships).

THE BATTLE OF LEPANTO, will be celebrated this weekend and up to the date of memorance which will be 8th of October.
448 years have passed by on one of the most important events the world has seen. The year 1571 making its moment in history!


The shipwreck at Zakynthos, not the shipwreck that we know of today, but in my mind a more impressive ship wrecked within our seas.

In search of tangible remains of the Battle of Lepanto (1571) the Spanish 16th century shipwreck of Zakynthos could not be far off target. The shipwreck spotted in the 1980s. Investigated by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in collaboration with the University of Oxford in 1990 they located it approximately two kilometers off the port of Zakynthos. It is dated in around 1580 while carried a large number of coins (silver coins dated in the reign of Philip II of Spain), pottery, ammunition and vases of daily use. According to the researchers, the wooden ship of Zakynthos had more likely participated in the conflict of 1571.


So, as the days approach here is what was recorded on our Island at that time. Taking you back in time where Zakynthians had to stand for what was theirs.

* 1570: The predecessor of Zakynthos, Paolo Contarini, anticipating a new attack by the Turks, due to the Venice-Dyanian conflict, takes active measures for the security and defense of the island.
* Spring 1571: Tour of the Turks in the area of ​​”Stou Kafirou”, which cause disasters in mountainous areas of Zakynthos and plunder the Monastery of St. George in the Kremna area.
George Minotos, the chief of the Chernigos of the area, courageously faces the raiders. Other landings of the Turks follow in the areas of Sella and Agios Andreas. The villagers courageously attack the invaders, under the command of Georgios Minotos and Konstantinos Blastos.
* May 20, 1571: The Sacra Liga is established between the Venetians and the Pope E, aiming to confront the Turkish expansionism in the Mediterranean.
* 21 May 1571: Turkish ships appear in the sea area of ​​Zakynthos. Paolo Contarini orders a general alert and residents of Aegialos leave their homes, finding shelter in Castro (within the Castle walls). Turks and Barbarian pirates attack the islands of Strofadia, led by Ulutz Ali, where they plunder the Monastery and capture the monks.
* July 5, 1571: The Turks disembark at the site of Ypsolithos, Kalamaki, where they engaged in pillaging and destruction, unfortunately, the Zakynthians were to give up the area of Aegialos to flames under attack and were forced to return to the Castle. The Zakynthians resisted furiously, thus deterring the Turks.
The high Priest, Nikolaos Koutouvalis, along with his son, Dimitris, and six volunteers, come out of the castle to venge their attack on the Turks, in the region of the Prophet Elias, in Psilomata. The Turks are suddenly surprised and Paolo Contarini orders a raid from outside the Castle, where the Zakynthian warriors attack the Turks, who camped in the area of Gaitani, who dispersed irregularly and retreated, but counterattacked and the Zakynthians returned within the walls of the Castle. The Turks, then launched a general assault, but Contarini had anticipated the defense, heroically repelling the attack. The siege lasts for thirty days and the prowess of the Zakynthians forces Olyudj Ali to leave Zakynthos, heading to Kefalonia, where they caused great devastation.
Following the departure of the Turks, Paolo Contarini, orders to celebrate the historic victory against the Turks and invites all the rulers to the Governorate of the Castro. Young Nobles present, for the first time in modern history, the tragedy of Aeschylus “The Persians”, in Italian translation, which testifies to the love of the Zakynthians for the ancient civilization of Greece.
* October 7, 1571: The united naval forces of Venice, Spain and Pope E, headed by Don Juan the Austrian, collide with the Turkish fleet at the entrance of the Gulf of Patra, between Axis (south of the Echinades) and the Cape of Araxos and not Nafpaktos, as it is mistakenly believed, which is simply the base of the Turkish fleet, giving it its name to the nautical world where it changed the fate of Europe because the Turks were devastated. The result is that it rises the moral of Europeans towards the Ottoman Empire, which was unveiled until then.
Zakynthos participates in the naval battle with six galleys, equipped and manned by volunteers. The first galley is the Council of the Community, with Andreas Koutouvalis with Soprakomitos. Also included are the galleys “Panagia” by Nicholas of Mondeus, “Judith” by Markos Sigouros (cousin of Agios Dionysios), managed by his son Marinos, as well as by Nikolaos Fokkardis, Konstantinos Vlasti, Dimitris Komitou and Ioannis Montsenigos . Volunteer ships fly the flag – a picture of St. John the Baptist, protector and Patron Saint of our island at that time, and run by Antonios Koutouvalis, under the command of Spanish Scarecotto, Vasquez.
Alexios Fotinos and his four brothers fight at Galera by Nicholas of Modena. Alexius is hurt heavily, and his four brothers are losing their lives. Alexios – Thomas Montsenigos is bravely fighting in the same galley, while Emmanuel Volteras and Efstathios Logothetis the Lionheart fight.
The inhabitants of Zakynthos watch the naval battle from Kryoneri and the island of Vothi, where they hear the cannons and watch the sails of the ships.
After the victory of the Allied Forces, part of the fleet arrives in Zakynthos, where the Zakynthians welcome them with great enthusiasm.


In total, four galleys took part and all sailed under the flag of St. John. The Venetian governor of the soprano Antonio Koutouvalis, whose priest named Konstantinos, acted upon the July 1571 offense. The other three galleys were governed by Nikolaos Eddino, Dimitrios Kommoutos and Markos Sigouros. Dionysius Rome, K. Kather The other three galleys were governed by Nikolaos Eddino, Dimitrios Kommoutos and Markos Sigouros. Dionysios Romas, K. Tirofros, I. Hassiotis and P. Chiotis also report as owner of a privately-owned galley Nikolaos Fokkardis.
The Montagnard galley “Nostra Signora di Zante”, which was placed on the left wing with Barbarigo, fought five Brothers of Foteinou. The four were killed and Alexander was wounded.
The governor-owner Marcos Sigourus had the “Guiditta di Zante” galley – called “Jude”. She had on board a figure of a mermaid that is preserved today at the Museum of Dionysios Solomos and the Eminent Zakynthians. Together he fought with his son Marino. The Judith belonged to the power of the center, headed by Don Juan and Venier and carried a blue flag. The interference at the center also determined the outcome of the naval battle, as Don Juan’s “Reale” collided with Muezinzade Ali’s “Sultana”. The “Sultana” was instantly perceived by Don Juan from the three lit lanterns and headed toward it. However, quickly the Ottoman galley was pinned on the sides of “Reale”. The battle that was given on the united decks was impetuous, frenzied and bloody, and in a short time the outcome was judged by the death of Ottoman kapandan pasha (Mujinzande Ali).
Also, John (Zuanne) Montsenigo took part with his own galley. Together he fought “aventuriero” one of the two sons of Thomas Montsenigos, Francis. The father had taken over the militia in Zakynthos and his other son, Alexios Montsenigo, fought at the galley in Mondeño.
Christopher Montsenigo, a noble son of John who served in the garrison of Zakynthos, also followed his compatriots in the naval battle. Previously served as a bearer in the light cavalry (the company greca).
Zakynthos John Kontokalis also served as a frigate governor, sometimes as a food supplier for the needs of the fleet, sometimes as a spy, sometimes as a postman. This information, though undecided, is given by him in his request to the Venetian government in 1585. So it is very likely that he has been listed in a naval battle somehow.
Determined for the outcome was the contribution of Georgios Minotos, Zakynthios, to whom the foreseen Zakynthos Paolo Contarini commissioned the leadership, training and discipline of the recruits for the naval battle of Zakynthos on 22 June 1571. An equal offer is also that of Angelos Salviatis, who in the summer strengthened the defense of Zakynthos and maintained close relations with the Spaniards in Sicily.
also noted is the name of Constantine Blastou, who during the premarital raid of the Agarinians in July in Zakynthos, opposed all their raging attacks against the Castle along with Koutouvalis, Kokkalas and many others, forcing Ouloutz to leave.

Programme of celebrations.


  • 10:00 Special honorary services to Our Patron Saint Dionysios
  • 11.00 A festive parade of the Philharmonic and Associations (Ionian Islands and Crete) through the historic centre of the Zakynthos town.
  • 11.30 Wreaths deposited by local authorities and island delegations at the Memorial of the Fallen

– Flag hoisting and wreaths positioned by the Coast Guard boat in the area where the winners of the battle landed in 1571.  (Agios Nikolaos Molos)

– One minute silence – The National Anthem

  • 12.30 Delegation welcomes Board of Directors of the Municipality of Zakynthos at a solemn meeting at the Cultural Centre of Zakynthos
  • 13.30 Visit to Milan Maritime Museum in Tsilivi with free admission



  • Flames and other surprises will float in the maritime area and the fireworks launch will make our music night.
  • Then the bands playing the dance ensembles with torches will head to Pl. St. Mark’s, in a festive parade ending in the Cultrural Centre where a Concert by the Philharmonic as well as Ionian and Cretan dances will take place.



  • Corfu cratering
  • Greetings from local authorities
  • Reference to the event
  • Mezzo soprano Katerina Botoni, a member of the National Opera Youth Choir, will perform the Hymn to Virgin Mary “Ave Maria” as well as the Hymn to the Ionian Navy, in lyrics by Antonis Milanos and Antonis Kladis
  • Lefkada – Ithaca Philharmonic Concert
  • Dance Corfu – Lefkada – Crete
  • Recitation of the National Anthem in front of Dionysios Solomos’ Adriatic by the Philharmonic.



  • 11.00 A memorial service will be held in the picturesque Chapel of the “Three Witnesses” of Akrotiri, which overlooks the sea, where the battle could be seen. The icon Our Lady of Laurentena designed by Ant. Milan in 2007 with Religious and Historical Respect (exact copy of the original), that is inextricably linked to the Nafpaktos Naval Battle and the Zakynthian religious consciousness, having been transported from our castle to the coast of Akrotiri by the sea. , waiting for the victorious outcome of the Christian ships, which were struggling against the Ottoman Empire. (according to Zakynthos Historian D. Konomo).


The marine event is being carried out with the courtesy of the owners of the Plano – Tsilivi Boat Club and with the support of the Plano Local Council. The fireworks display is by K. Mavria Water Sport Tsilivi.

About Louise Inzk

Louise is Australian born and has been a Greek citizen since 1991. She has deep cultural ties with the island, often writing about Zakynthian Traditions and Culture. She is also an active member of the Volunteer Group of Zakynthos, Giostra Di Zante and is a member of the women's choir "Rodambelos". Her love of the island and all it offers saw her joining the Zakynthos (Zante) Informer admin team in 2014.

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