The Venetians ruled Zakynthos for 300 years from the late 15th century, calling the island “Fioro di Levante” (flower of the East) as the island is a botanist’s paradise, with over 7,000 species of flowers on Zakynthos! It is third largest island of the Ionian Sea, after Corfu and Kefalonia. The island is named after Zakynthos, who is said to have been the island’s first inhabitant, and the ancient acropolis is dedicated to him. A figure from Greek mythology, he was the grandson of Zeus, and son of Dardanos.
There are several examples of Venetian architectural influence on Zante, despite damage sustained over the years from seismic activity in the area. One such example is the reconstructed Faneromeni Church. Other attractions in Zakynthos include the Byzantine museum, Dionysios Solomos Square, and the Cathedral of St. Dionysios. One of the island’s standout highlights is Navagio (shipwreck) Bay, a spectacular secluded beach with its very own wrecked ship on the sand. Zante is also home to two very special endangered animal species – the ‘caretta caretta’ loggerhead sea turtle, and the monachus monachus Mediterranean monk seal.