A small island strategically placed in the Ionian Sea, its diverse and rich history is visible down to the fact that it bears two names. Zante (the Venetian name) or Zakynthos (the Greek) is a delightful blend of Italian and Greek heritage painted against a natural canvas of sugar-white beaches, turquoise water and tall, white cliffs.
Held by Venetians, Greeks and even the British at some point during history, the island and the spirit of Zante is very much inspired by both Italian and Greek culture. Throughout the island you’ll find a mix of old architecture, although a devastating earthquake in the 1950s sadly destroyed many of the historical buildings. The main city on the island, Zakynthos Town still has a very distinct feel to it of being a place of two cultures. Greek orthodox churches line the charming harbour-front of the city while the grand piazza of Solomos Square opens up at the northern end of the promenade. The square is named after Zante’s most famous son, Dionysios Solomos, who was himself educated in Italy, before returning to the island. Here he composed the poem Hymn to Liberty which today forms the text for the Greek national anthem. In Zakynthos Town, you can visit the museum that is dedicated to this much celebrated local hero, or explore the Byzantine Museum, if you want a further scope of the fascinating history of the island.
Most visitors who come to Zante today visit because of the scenic beauty of the island. The Venetians nicknamed the island the Flower of the Levant, due to its flourishing greenery and its enchanting nature. Along the south and west coast, you’ll find the relaxing beaches of Laganas and Agios Nikolaos, where luxurious hotels with complementing restaurants and bars are situated. The eastern coast is more rugged and less populated. The hills and cliffs near the city of Keri offer breathtaking vistas across the island and the sparkling Ionian Sea and towards the north, one of the most famous nature spots in the island can be encountered. Named after a sunken ship that was washed ashore, Shipwreck Beach sits perfectly against the white cliffs that surround the stunningly turquoise water. Relax by the beach, go for a swim or try your hands at various water sports that are available throughout the island. Alternatively you can also go on boat tours to explore the beautiful Blue Caves that break the gentle waves just east of Cape Skinari.
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