Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is island in the Ionian sea. It is the third largest island in the Ionian islands. Zakynthos is a popular tourist destination, with the nickname of The Flower of the East. Many who visit the island fall in love with it and return year upon year.
The history of Zakynthos is an intricate and mixed one. The Greek poet Homer mentioned the island in his popular works, the Odyssey and the Illiad, and over time it has been ruled by many including Byzantine, Greeks, Neopolitans, The Russians, The French and The British. The island is now Greek once more, and is very proud of its Greek heritage, although it does still pay tribute to its past by celebrating traditions that previous rulers put in place, such as Giostra and Carnival.
Zakynthos was invaded once more during World War Two by both the Italians and Germans, it was a tough time for the islanders and Zakynthos has become famous for having saved its entire Jewish populous during the war by protecting and hiding them from the Germans. Those who lived went on to enjoy a free life once World War Two had ended.
The island is situated in an earthquake zone, and has been subject to a number of severe earthquakes throughout its history. The Great Ionian Earthquake occurred in 1953. Zakynthos suffered badly during this year when four large earthquakes, the largest being 7.3 on the Richter scale, razed much of the island to the ground. Only three buildings in the main town, Zakynthos Town, remained standing; the island was eventually cleared and rebuilt. Zakynthos still gets earthquakes, but residents and businesses are very prepared for them and most, if not all buildings, are built to a strict code and are safe nowadays.
As well as being home for many Greek families, the island is a huge draw for international visitors as well as home to many non-Greek residents. The famous landmark of Navagio, or shipwreck cove, is one of the most photographed images in the world, it is the iconic that every visitor wants to see and visit. It’s not the only tourist attraction Zakynthos has and tourists flock to the island from all over the world to explore, visit the numerous beautiful beaches, swim in the clear turquoise seas and enjoy the good food, hospitality and nightlife, that is plentiful.
Located on the south of the island is the National Maritime Park of Zakynthos. It is home to endangered loggerhead turtles that nest on the island. They are protected and preserved by specialist teams who not only educate visitors about the protected species, but also ensure that the turtles nest safely, hatch, grow and thrive. Visitors can see the turtles in the areas of Laganas Bay all the way across to Kalamaki and Gerakas.
Zakynthos is an island with an incredible past that is just to be explored. It doesn’t matter how many times you visit our wonderful Flower of the East, you will always discover something new. A place or beach that captures your heart, and makes you want to return again.