"Zaynthos - Zante" Prefecture of Zante (Zakynthos) by smirnofforiginal
Prefecture of Zante (Zakynthos) Travel Guide: 305 reviews and 653 photos
Zakynthos is the third latgest of the Ionian Islands. Having said that, at only 125km in length, covering roughly 410 square kilometres, it is not so big! With good public transport, cabs & cars to hire, it is easy to get about and wont take long you long to fully explore the island.
To the west of the island there are (small) mountains. The largest of which is Mount Vrachionas at 758 metres. To the east there are plains that stretch down to the shore. Zakynthos is a very pretty and green island which suffered a violent earthquake back in 1953. It razed the town to the ground and left Zakynthos in total ruins. Zakynthos was rebuilt, painstakingly, modelled on the old one and is now a chraming, lush island with friendly people and a relaxed atmosphere.
Zakynthos supported Sparta, one of the two Ancient Greece super powers, until they were defeated by Athens (the other power) at which point they changed their allegiance.
During the Peloponnesian Was Zakynthos took the side of the Corfiotes, against the Corinthians, in 434 BC. They were triumphant. Four years later Zakynthos was reannexed by Lacedaemonians.
In 217 BC the island fell under the power of Macedonia until occupation by the Romans who, having sold it to the Achians in 191 BC then went about recapturing it! The islanders who ocassionally revolted against the Romans also came together with them to fend off pirates.
During the Byzantine era, the Roman Empire was on the decline, Zakynthos was weighed down by adversity. There were many invaders including the Goths, the Vandals, the Arabs, the Saracens etc... It was during these times that Christianity came along - a new religion proclaiming peace and love.
The Byzantine era concluded and the Frankish noblemen came to enjoy their dynasties. The Greeks were denied their freedom and they set about imposining them on the Western Christian dogma. With murder, intrigue, conspiracy and violence to contend with Zakynthos was unable to defend itself from foreign foes.. along came the Turks who rampaged, pillaged and looted the island. Out went the Franks! Several years later saw the Turks leave and the Venetians rule. The Venetians ruled for 3 centuries, the island propspered and incentives were put in place to encourage as many Venetians as possible.
The Italians introduced classes into society but only the nobility had any civil rights. The people were oppressed and the position of the working class was diabolical. The situation exploded into what became the People's Rebellion (1628-1632), ending in a blood bath.
The (political) Jacobin Association was organised with the objective to grant equal rights to all citizens. At this point Ventian rule crumbled and on 4th July 1797 the island was handed over from them to the French Repulicans. Zakynthos was designated the capital of the Prefecture of the Ionian.
In March 1800 Russia and Turkey signed a treay whereby the Ionians became an autonomous state called the Septinsular Republic. Administratively the Republic belonged to Russia but they paid an annual tax to the Turks. Again the people wre not given any considerations.
September 19th, 1809, the British assumed control and set up the Ionian State with Zakynthos as its capital. In 1814 the islands became a British protectorate - the power was now in the hands of the British governor who ruled in accordance to the terms of the autocratic constitution.
In 1821 there was the Greek Revolution. Many people became members of the "Philiki Etairia" (friendly society). They took the oath at the church of Agios Geogios which is why it is now known as Agios Georgios ton Philikon...
...eventually, in 1850 the first free elction were held and by 1863 the Ionian Islands were united with free Greece.
After 6 centuries of occupation Zakynthos were finally liberated... only to then face the earthquake of 1953!
Now, today, Zakynthis enjoys tourism, which is its main source of income.
All roads on the island lead to the wreck! It is definitely one of the top 2 sights on the island, as far as the island... more travel advice
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