“Levante’s flower, coming from east ….”
The third in size of the islands of the Ionian Sea, the green island of poetry, of song and love, the native land of D. Solomos, the writer of the Greek National Anthem but also that of St. Dennis, the Patron Saint. Rich in beauty and tradition, both historical and cultural, Zakynthos is the “ideal” of any traveler with an exploring mind.
Homer is the first to talk about the island of Popolari. Mythology says that Xacynthos, son of the king of Troy Dardanus, came to the island, was enchanted by its beauty and built the homonymous city. From the very old days it has passed through hardships and glories together.
In ancient times it was occupied by the wicked king of Ithaca Odysseus. They rebelled and expelled him for 450 years until 404 BC. they live democratically and a great culture flourishes on the island. Then they founded the colony of Zacantha in Spain. The war between the two great Greek cities of Athens and Sparta does not leave her alone, sometimes she becomes an ally of one and sometimes of the other. In the Byzantine years it became a province of Byzantium.
During the time of the crusaders it was looted in 1150 AD. from the Normans. After the fall of Constantinople, he will change many masters and will experience days of hunger and misery. In 1488 the Venetians will occupy it and for many years, the “Flower of the Levant”, as they baptized it, will remain under their rule. The administration they exercise on the island is cruel. There are the masters from one side and the people, the slave, the popular, from the other. Redemption comes in 1797 from the French who sit out a year. From 1809 to 1864 the English ruled the island and oppressed the inhabitants.
Its inhabitants are fighting for their liberation and the union of the island with Greece. We have great intellectual development on the island at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, with great representatives of letters. Our national poet Dionysios Solomos was born here. At the time of the revolution, listening to the cannons of Messolonghi from Stranis Hill, he wrote the National Anthem. Hometown of the uncompromising Ugo Foskolos and the revolutionary hymn writer Andreas Kalvos.
The current city of Zakynthos is new after the devastating earthquakes of 1953. In the city the visitor can see the famous Church and the monastery of Agios Dionysios, the patron saint of the city. The Venetian fortress on the hill. From up there one can admire the view of the city and the surrounding landscape. The post-Byzantine museum where old icons have been gathered and one can admire the incomparable art of Byzantine hagiography. Personal items and books of our national poet are preserved in the Solomos museum.
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