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Museums of Greek life, Folklore and the Natural World

For a small island, Zakynthos has a wealth of interesting and important museums that aim to highlight and educate visitors with the historical, traditional and environmental sides of the island. There’s something for everyone and whether you’re interested in learning more for educational purposes, or just wanting to delve further into Zakynthos’ rich culture, history and environment to get a better understanding of it, there’s a great choice of museums for island visitors. This is our first post about Zakynthos museums and it features Greek life, Folklore and the Natural world.

Aristeon Olive Oil Museum is located in Lithakia. Part of a traditional family olive oil business, the museum gives visitors a step-by-step tour through the process of producing olive oil from original eighteenth century wood presses, to the modern day machines that are now used. Visitors learn all about the history of olives, olive oil pressing and the production of traditional Zakynthian olive oil. The museum also has examples of ancient olive trees and equipment that would have been used during past production processes. 

Botega Folklore Museum is located in Orthonies, a small village in the north of the island. A folklore museum, Botega takes visitors back in time to traditions of eighteenth century Zakynthos mountain villages, and the people who used to live and work in them. There is a house, accompanied by an old stone mill, as well as examples of every day traditional Greek items, such as tools and personal belongings. The museum also has an old press that would have been used for olives. Alongside the museum is a café where visitors can buy, or taste, traditional Greek products.

The Cultural and Agricultural Museum (also known as the Vertzagio Folk Museum) is in Pigadakia close to Alykes. Visitors can learn all about the important cultures and traditions of rural Greece; most notably of Zakynthos itself. The museum contains a traditionally recreated house inside which is a bedroom, kitchen and dining room. The rooms are furnished with every day traditional Greek items that would have been used but past occupants. Some of the items date back to the sixteenth century and are very rare, including working tools and an old press that was used for grapes and olives. The museum was created in 1998 by Spiros Vertzagias, whose family has lived and worked on the land for over five hundred years.

The Exhibition Centre of National Marine Park is in Dafni, Vasilikos. In 1999 a National Marine Park was created in Zakynthos in order to try and manage and protect the Mediterranean Seals (Monachus Monachus), the islands famous endangered Loggerhead turtles, and the diverse flora and fauna. An Exhibition Centre was also set up in Dafni dedicated to the education and protection of the National Marine Park. It has information about the Loggerhead turtles, including their lives, habitat, nesting sites and various restrictions that operate on surrounding beaches of Laganas Bay and Vassilikos peninsula. The Centre also provides visitors with a wealth of information about the islands traditional fauna and flora via a virtual eco tour. On the eco tour visitors can ‘travel’ their way through the Marine Park to get a better idea of the delicate habitat and why its protection is so important.

Helmi’s Natural History Museum is in Ayia Marina village, in central Zakynthos. Opened in 2000, the museum is dedicated to highlighting and educating visitors about flora, fauna and the general plant/animal life of the island. Set in a traditional building, the museum has around 1,500 interesting examples of minerals, rocks and fossils taken from various places across the island. These examples have helped people to get a better idea of the islands geological past. In the museum, visitors can also learn about the delicate ecosystem of Zakynthos as well as where the diverse flora and fauna can be seen in its natural environment.

Whichever museum you choose to visit have a great time, you’ll definitely learn something new about Zakynthos!

About Chrissie Parker

Chrissie Parker joined the Zakynthos Informer Team in 2014. Chrissie’s first experience of the island was a combined birthday and wedding celebration, in true Zakynthian style. Since then she has been able to combine her love of the island, including its incredible history, tradition and culture, with her love of writing.

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