The History of Zakynthos

Zakynthos, also known as Zante, is a Greek island located in the Ionian Sea. It has a rich history and culture that dates back to ancient times. The island has been influenced by various civilizations, including the ancient Greeks, Romans, Venetians, French, and British.
Ancient Times:
Zakynthos was first inhabited during the Neolithic period, around 3500 BCE. The island was then colonized by the ancient Greeks during the Mycenaean period, around the 16th century BCE. The island played an important role in ancient Greece and was known for its shipbuilding and shipping industries. The famous poet, Homer, mentioned the island in his epic poem, The Odyssey, as the homeland of King Odysseus.
Classical Times:
During the classical period, Zakynthos was a member of the Ionian League, an alliance of Greek city-states in the Ionian Sea. The island was under the influence of the powerful city-state of Corinth, which established a colony on the island. In 455 BCE, the island was occupied by the Athenians, but it was later returned to Corinthian control.
Roman and Byzantine Period:
In 229 BCE, Zakynthos was conquered by the Romans, and it became part of the Roman Empire. The island flourished under Roman rule and became a major center for trade and commerce. Christianity was introduced to Zakynthos during the Roman period, and many churches and monasteries were built on the island. During the Byzantine period, Zakynthos was part of the Byzantine Empire and was a major center for religious and cultural activities.
Venetian Rule:
In 1185, the island was occupied by the Normans, and in 1204 it was conquered by the Venetians, who ruled the island for over 400 years. During the Venetian period, Zakynthos became a major center for trade and commerce, and it was known for its shipbuilding and agricultural industries. The island was also famous for its literature, music, and art, and it attracted many famous writers, artists, and musicians.
Ottoman Occupation:
In 1485, Zakynthos was occupied by the Ottoman Turks, who ruled the island for over 200 years. During this period, Zakynthos suffered from frequent raids and attacks by pirates and the Ottoman navy. Many of the island’s inhabitants were forced to flee to other parts of Greece and Europe.
French and British Occupation:
In 1797, Zakynthos was occupied by the French under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, who established a puppet state on the island. In 1800, the island was ceded to the British under the Treaty of Constantinople, and it became part of the British Empire. The British established a naval base on the island, and it became an important center for trade and commerce.
Modern Times:
Zakynthos became part of the Greek state in 1864, following the Treaty of London, which ended the British protectorate over the Ionian Islands. Since then, the island has undergone significant modernization and development. Today, Zakynthos is a popular tourist destination, known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and rich history and culture. The island’s culture is a unique blend of Greek, Venetian, and British influences, and it is celebrated through its traditional music, dance, and festivals.