Ports

Zante - Greek Islands

Zakinthos is one of the principal islands of the Ionian group off the west coast of Greece. Both Pliny and Homer found Zakynthos (Zante) appealing. Its beaches are broad and sandy. An abundance of natural springs once earned the island the sobriquet "The Flower of the Levant" from the Venetians, and even now the twisting lanes and banks of wild flowers keep the land fragrant and fresh. Zakynthos boasts a distinguished list of writers, artists and musicians, two are outstanding: Dionysios Solomos and Panayiotis Doxaras. Dionysios Solomos was born in Zakynthos in 1798 and, at the age of 25, he wrote the poem "Hymn to Liberty", which, when set to music, became the Greek National Anthem. Panayiotis Doxaras painted influential icons that can be seen in the church Kyrias Ton Angellon (Our Lady of the Angels). Inland villages have up until now been spared development and Zakynthos' sweet smelling terrain makes cycling to the beach a genuine pleasure. Eight miles away south of town is the village of Lithakia. Or, in the north, Maries, Othonies, or Volimes, each of these village claim important churches. From Volimes it is possible to take a boat to a well-known and interesting attraction, the Blue Grotto. Originally colonized by the Greeks, the islands later formed part of the Roman and Byzantine empires. The islands were under the rule of the Venetian Republic from 1386 until they were taken by the French in 1797. In 1799 they were surrendered to the Russians and the Turks. From 1800 to 1807 the islands formed an independent state. In 1807 the group reverted to the French, who held them until 1814, when the islands became a British protectorate. British control lasted until 1864, the date of the incorporation of the islands into Greece.