Destinations - Ionian Islands
Zakynthos (Italian Zante), the most southern island of the Ionian Islands, lies off the west coast of the Peloponnese. The western half of the island is occupied by a plateau rising to 758 m, the eastern half by a fertile and intensively cultivated alluvial plain with a luxuriant growth of vegetation. With its beautiful scenery and excellent bathing beaches, Zakynthos is very popular with yacht charters and tourists in general.
Since the time of Homer the island has been known by the name it still bears, said to be derived from the wild hyacinth. Settled at an early period by Achaeans and Arcadians, it soon developed into a centre of trade and seafaring whose influence extended as far as the Iberian Peninsula, where it founded the colony of Zakantha, later known as Saguntum.
It was occupied by the Turks in 1479 but recovered two years later by the Venetians, who held it until 1797. The island has preserved an Italian and Venetian stamp, yet its eventful history and major earthquakes of 1515 and 1953 destroyed most old buildings.