Our Blog

History of Zakynthos

Zakynthos, known as "Flower of Levante," has an exotic beauty of rocky coves and sandy beaches, the Lighthouse of Keri and Ano Gerakari for a panoramic view, and so many more. These all make one curious about the history of Zakynthos.

  • Mythology
  • Roman period
  • Byzantine period
  • Venetian period
  • French and Russian-Turkish domination
  • English sovereignty
  • Attachment to Greece
  • Modern times


Artemis, the huntress goddess, was said to roam the Zakynthian forests. Meanwhile, her brother Apollo praised the island's beauty on the lyre.
Ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals and games to honor Artemis and Apollo.
He landed with his fleet from Psofida and built his castle, according to Homer.
Zakynthos, the island's founder, is depicted on several coins and is the island's icon. According to tradition, Zakynthos freed the island from the snakes that swamped it.
The Arcadians may have landed on the island in the first millennium BC to create new colonies. The peoples' musical talent and veneration of Arcadia's goddess Artemis bear witness to this origin.
The Arcadians founded the colony of Jacada on the Spanish coast, which lasted almost a thousand years until Hannibal conquered it in 218 BC.
Odysseus, king of Ithaca, later ruled Zakynthos after passing through the dynasty of Arkisios, king of Kefalonia. Like other countries occupied by Odysseus, Zakynthos took part in the Trojan War, which Homer mentions in the Iliad. A few days after the Trojan War finished and Odysseus returned to Ithaca, the "Penelope suitors" were slain, including twenty young men from Zakynthos. This mythical incident in the Odyssey seems to correspond to a revolution in the Ionian Islands that ended Odysseus' reign. It led to the development of a unique treaty that acknowledged for the first time the right to democracy.

Roman period

The Macedonians took Zakynthos after being neutral during the Persian Wars and siding with Athens during the Peloponnesian War. The Romans, who used Zakynthos to establish trade and expand their conquests, were the first true conquerors in history.
The islanders tried numerous times to revolt against the Roman dominion but were stopped by Admiral Fulvio, who, in 150 BC, forced the islanders to obey Roman laws. After reciprocal duties and compromises, the Romans and Zakynthians improved their lifestyles enough to repel Mithridates' attempt to take them in 87 AD.

Byzantine period

The history of Zakynthos includes the Byzantine period, where after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Zakynthos, the Ionian Islands, and the colonies on the west coast of the Mediterranean were forced to suffer decades of uncertainty, with continuous occupations by Constantine the Great.
During the Byzantine rule, apart from the principles of Christianity, there was also the division of the inhabitants into three different social classes.
The most important class were the landowners; the merchants and workers were the middle class, while the lower social strata included all the peasants.

Venetian period

With the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1185, Zakynthos entered three centuries of the interim rule, ruled by the Orsini, Angioini, and, lastly, the Toki.
In 1485, the Venetians incorporated Zakynthos in the provinces after conquering mainland Greece and improving its self-government and economic organization.
From 1492, the Venetian authority relocated many of its residents to Zakynthos province, promoting its regeneration and prosperity.
During this period, the two peoples lived in outstanding harmony because of the Venetians' wisdom in establishing peaceful conditions and providing social and religious liberties to the islanders.
Venetian administration allowed the island's culture and architecture to flourish in fewer than three centuries, earning it the nickname "Greece's Florence." With enthusiasm, the French liberal principles swept across Europe in the 18th century, including Zakynthos.

French and Russian-Turkish domination

After the Venetian Republic, Did the French Democrats occupy Zakynthos? Burned Aristocratic coats of arms in the center plaza, Zakynthos became the Ionian Islands capital. The aristocratic class's desire for old privileges quickly confronted the French air of freedom and rebirth. It was precisely this group that encouraged the promotion of the Russian-Turkish alliance on the island in 1798.
On March 22, 1800, Russia and Turkey agreed to construct the Ionian Islands State, where the old nobility class ruled for over seven years.

English sovereignty

In 1809, the English colonized Zakynthos and proclaimed it the Ionian State's capital.
The entrance of T. Maitland, the new governor of Zakynthos, nullified the first advantages that the English granted the inhabitants, such as public care and the first printing house on the island.
After first objecting to the British authorities, the islanders created a covert patriotic company called the "Friendly Society." This organization was at the heart of the Greek national struggle, and their memory is honored in Zakynthos.

Attachment to Greece

Greece's independence from Turkey gave life to a radical movement in the Ionian Islands that fought for many years against the British to annex Greece and no longer be under a foreign yoke.
The union of Zakynthos and the other Ionian islands with Greece took place in 1864 when he finally saw the Greek flag raised on the island.

Modern times

During the Second World War, Italians and Germans controlled Zakynthos, which provided a front of resistance against the conqueror.
After the war, in 1953, an earthquake struck the island, destroying the whole city. The exquisite historic mansions were razed, and the island's many kingdoms were largely forgotten. They slowly restored the city with the support of the government and the residents.
The history of Zakynthos is very vast, which includes a lot of information. For discovering more about it, visit kymaros villas.