Greece · Zakynthos Island
Zakynthos (Greek: Ζάκυνθος), also known as Zante (its Italian name), is the third largest island in the Ionian Sea, located off the west coast of Greece. Zakynthos Island is named after Zacynthos, son of legendary Arcadian chief Dardanos. It is a verdant island endowed with fertile valleys and a temperate climate, it is covered with thickly forested mountains and is home to many kinds of beaches.
From sandy beaches with serene blue waters on the south-eastern part of the island, to craggy cliffs and a fascinating underwater world on the western part, this emerald green island has it all. There you can have a swim at the wide sandy beaches in the company of sea turtles, go snorkelling or scuba diving between rocks and in underwater caves. Or take a sailboat out or go surfing, make a trekking-tour in the mountain-areas.
Zakynthos Island was ruled by the Venetians from 1484 to 1797, who called the island “Fioro di Levante” or the flower of the east as there are over seven thousand species of flowers on this island alone.
Archaeological findings prove that Zakynthos has been inhabited from the Neolithic Age. Greek poet Homer also mentions this island in his masterpieces, the Iliad and Odyssey, saying that the earliest inhabitants of the island was the son of the King of Dardanos of Troy named Zakynthos and his subjects.
Zakynthos is famous for its cultural life. Carnival is a traditional town crier goes around the island proclaiming the program of the Carnival festivities. On the last Sunday of the Carnival is the procession of the Carnival King. The festivities end with the “Mask Funeral”. Easter: The Holy Week in Zakynthos has its own character with ancient customs and an exceptional rite as far as the religious ceremonies are concerned. The celebration of Holy Week on Zakynthos Island is considered to be unique and unforgettable both for locals and visitors to the island. At noon, on Good Friday, crowds of worshippers take part in the procession of the Crucified through the town.
On Zante, great care is taken to protect two endangered animal species, namely the caretta aretta sea turtle and the monachus monachus seal.