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Τετάρτη, 23 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Zakynthos Sights


Blue Caves , Zakynthos Island, Greece

Sights - Zante Vacation - Zakynthos Island Greece

Zakynthos is rich with sights and there are plenty of things to see and do on any visit to this blissful island. The most famous sight and one that is definitely not to be missed is the Shipwreck - a picturesque beach in the north of Zante.

Nearby the Shipwreck are the Blue Caves; distinctive in the fact that there are only 3 Blue Caves in the whole of Greece.

The Wildlife Information Centre at Gerakas is a great place to visit, not just as it is located on one of the most beautiful beaches on the island but also because it gives visitors the chance to learn more about the endangered Caretta Caretta turtles and perhaps even glimpse one of these magnificent creatures swimming in the waters of the Ionian Sea.

Bohali is worth a visit, for the panoramic views the village can offer and also because it is where the ruins of a Venetian Castle are located.

Zante Town being the capital and cultural centre of the island has many sights of interest, such as the Byzantine Museum and the Museum of Solomos & Kalvos, St Dionysios's Church and the Church of St Nikolas.

One thing is for sure, there are lots of sights to appreciate on Zakynthos - so one visit to the island might not be enough!


Bohali
Bohali is a pretty area of Zante, just on the outskirts of the capital town and includes the charming villages of Akrotiri, Kryoneri and Varres. Bohali is well known for its magnificent panoramic views which encompass Zante (Zakynthos) Town below and extend far across the azure waters of the Ionian Sea to the Peloponnese. The famous Zakynthian poet Dionysios Solomos, gained inspiration here, on the hill of Lofos Strani, to write his best known poem and its lyrics later become the words to the Greek National Anthem. There are many cafes and ice-cream shops here, the perfect places to stop and delight in the stunning views.
The Venetian Castle is also located in Bohali and this was once the capital town. A nautical museum is also worth visiting whilst in Bohali as it contains many artifacts from the Greek Revolution, and the first and second World Wars and gives a detailed history of the Greek Navy.

The residences of Bohali certainly played an important part in the Greek Revolution against Turkey, in 1821. The Chapel of St George of Filikon was the meeting place of a secret society that planned attacks and it also welcomed those seeking refuge from mainland Greece.

Bohali is very picturesque and well worth visiting.



Mizithres
The Mizithres, small and big, are two very tall, conical and white rocks in the middle of the sea, located exactly under the lighthouse in Keri. They got their name from a local cheese called Mizithra which is produced in Zakynthos (Zante).
The rocks can be seen from the lighthouse or from a boat either privately hired, or one of the ones that take cruises around the island. The scenery is stunning as the white colour of the rocks contrasts the crystal blue waters.
They are many under water currents in this area and you will also find the deepest point in the Mediterranean called «The well of Inouses» which is 4500m.


Saint Dionysios Church 

St Dionysios Church is the most important on the island as it is dedicated to Saint Dionysios the patron saint of Zakynthos and his body is held in the Church in a silver casket. Founded in 1708, it was updated 50 years later and also renovated in the year 2000. It has a Venetian appearance and the bell tower is a direct copy of St Marco's in Venice.

The Church has a lovely location looking over the waterfront and is instantly recognizable when approaching the capital by boat. At night the lights that frame the bell tower create pretty reflections on the water in the harbour. A big festival is held in Zante town for three days, starting on St Dionysios's name day - the 24th of August and the Saint’s body is paraded through the town centre followed by marching bands - it is a time of celebration and is popular with locals and tourists. Next to the church stands the monastery of St Dionysios and a museum explaining the history of the Church and the Saint.



Solomos Square
Solomos Square is the main square of Zante Town, the island’s capital. It is named after one of the most famous Zakynthians, Dionysios Solomos, the poet whose words later formed the lyrics of the Greek National Anthem.
A statue of Solomos has been erected in the square.
Many impressive buildings surround the square, such as the Church of Saint Nikolaos, which dates from 1561 and is remarkable in the fact that it survived the strong 1953 earthquake and is notable as Saint Dionysios the patron saint of the island served here.
Other important buildings surrounding the square include the Byzantine Museum and the Cultural Centre of Zakynthos - which houses the town's library, a small art gallery and other exhibitions along with the town’s cinema theatre.


Museums
Zakynthos (Zante) is an island bursting with things to see, explore and enjoy - from the beautiful beaches, lovely traditional villages, picturesque mountain scenery, watersports, sights such as the Shipwreck and Venetian Castle and as if that wasn't enough there are also several interesting museums; an ideal way to learn more about this wonderful place and its distinguished residents.
The two best known museums are the Zakynthos Museum of Byzantine & Post- Byzantine Art and the Solomos & Kalvos Museum, both of which are located in Zante town, the capital of the island. The Byzantine Museum has many interesting exhibits but is best known for the hagiographies by prominent Zakynthians, as well as exhibits ranging from the 12th - 18th Centuries.
The Solomos & Kalvos Museum features the personal artefacts of famous Zakynthians. Another museum of interest is the museum of Grigorios Xenopoulos a famous playwright, and journalist; the museum houses many of his personal items, manuscripts and furniture.
On the outskirts of Zante Town, in Bohali, is the Naval Museum reputed to have the best collection of Byzantine vessels worldwide.
The Vertzagio Folk museum in the charming village of Pigadakia is a reconstruction of a traditional Zakynthian house furnished and decorated with elegant and original pieces.
Please browse the links for more details about each museum & remember they are great places to visit, especially to be out of the sun during its hottest hours.



Saint Markos Square
St Markos square is named after a Church of the same name, which was founded in 1518 and has the distinction of being the only Catholic Church in Zakynthos. At one time the Church was a Cathedral for the Bishopric of Kefalonia and Zakynthos, however nowadays this Church is only open in the summer. The infamous earthquake of 1953 destroyed the Church and it was rebuilt - but on a smaller scale.
St Markos square played an important part in Zakynthian history, as it used to be the meeting place for people to discuss their ideas. In 1797 the Popolari burned the books of the nobility. A tree in the centre of the square is called 'The Tree of Freedom' and is in honor of when the Venetians lost their rule over the island, only to be replaced by the French.
The Solomos & Kalvos museum is located in the square and houses personal objects of some of the most famous Zakythians, such as Dionysios Solomos, Alexander Roma and others, as well as pieces from the Byzantine era.
Nowadays many cafes and restaurants line the square and it is a nice place to sit and have a refreshment while enjoying people walking by.


Blue Caves 
Blue Caves , Zakynthos Island, Greece
The Blue Caves are located in the north of Zante (Zakynthos) and are one of the best known sights on the island.
The unusual caves were discovered in 1897, with the largest cave being called Blue Grotto. In order to visit them you can hire a boat, or take a boat trip.
The nearest point to the caves to take a boat from is the harbour of St.Nikolaos, near Volimes, but trips depart from many other points on the island.
The colours of the caves are spectacular and have to be seen to be believed. The area is also ideal for snorkeling.


National Marine Park - Zakynthos Greece
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos (N.M.P.Z.) is the recently established marine park situated at the southern most part of the island of Zakynthos. The Presidential Decree for the establishment of the N.M.P.Z. was signed on the 1st of December 1999 by the President of the Greek Republic.

The Marine Park's objectives are to preserve the natural environment and conserve the ecological balance of the marine and coastal area of the Bay of Laganas and of the Strophadia Islands.

Within the Marine Park is the most important loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta nesting rookery in the Mediterranean, a habitat essential for protection.

The National Marine Park of Zakynthos is the first of its kind in Greece comprising of a Management Body and it will be an example for other areas in Greece requiring integrated management.

Protected Area

The Marine Park encompasses the marine area of the Bay of Laganas, the sea turtle nesting beaches and a zone of land adjoining them, the wetland of Keri Lake and the two small islands of Strophadia, which are 25 miles south from the island of Zakynthos.

It is worth noting that Greece is the only European country where the loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta nest, with Zakynthos being the most important nesting area in Mediterranean.

Furthermore the area is characterised by a variety of habitats, of European interest including sand dunes, Posidonia oceanica beds, the critically endangered Sea daffodil (Pancratium maritimum), submerged reefs, as well as hundreds of species of flora and fauna, some of which are of great importance.

It should also be noted that a resident population of the critically endangered species of monk seal Monachus monachus is present at the west coast of Zakynthos.

Protection Measures

Within the marine area of the Park there are three zones:
* Zone A - no boat activity is allowed
* Zone B - boats are allowed with speed limit of 6 miles per hour; no anchoring is allowed
* Zone C - boats are allowed with speed limit of 6 miles per hour; anchoring is allowed
On land several restrictions protect the nesting beaches (no building, visitors are allowed on the nesting beaches from 7:00pm to 7:00am, control of the number of visitors etc). Furthermore restrictions on building and tourist development of the area are applied on the zones of land that adjoining the nesting beaches.



Venetian Castle - Zakynthos Greece
The Venetian Castle, on Bohali hill on the outskirts of Zante town, was built in 1480 and only shortly after, part of it was destroyed by invading Turks. From 1514 and onwards it was repaired and at one point it became the capital of the island. The castle is in ruins today but it is still worth visiting as there are exceptional views of Zakynthos town below and across the Ionian Sea to the Peloponnese region of Greece.
Before the Castle was built, there once stood an acropolis on the same sight. The gate of entrance clearly shows the Venetian influence as the Venetian symbol 'The lion of Saint Mark' is evident.
The Castle is set amongst pine trees and is a lovely place to visit, for a better understanding of Zakynthian history, the splendid views and also the atmosphere - one of tranquility.

The church of St Nicholas

The church of St Nicholas was built in 1561 and is the oldest building on solomos square, it is the only venetian building saved up to today. The church has very important historical value as the patron saint of the island served as a priest here.





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