- | Travel Agencies in Greece | Conference Hotels in Greece | Winter Holidays in Greece
Advertising Info
Hotel & Travel Guide for your holidays in Zakynthos-Greece. The site where Hotel Owners and Agents in Zakynthos meet their Guests!
Greece » Ionian islands » Zakynthos island » Zakynthos culture
Zakynthos Villas Zakynthos Villas
Zakynthos on Google Maps Zakynthos on Google Maps
Zakynthos Travel Agencies Zakynthos Travel Agencies
About Zakynthos About Zakynthos
Zakynthos Culture Zakynthos Culture
Zakynthos Villages Zakynthos Villages
Zakynthos Beaches Zakynthos Beaches
Why visit Zakynthos Why visit Zakynthos
Zakynthos Virtual Tour Zakynthos Virtual Tour
Zakynthos Photo Gallery Zakynthos Photo Gallery
                Slide Show Zakynthos Slide Show
Zakynthos Panoramas
Zakynthos Wallpapers
Zakynthos Sightseeing
 Zakynthos PDF guide: En | Gr
Greek Jewels Greek Jewels
Hotels in Zakynthos by area: 
Zakynthos info by area: 

Zakynthos island culture

The island of Zakynthos has contributed a lot to the artistic, intellectual and cultural evolution of Greece, during the last centuries. Several intellectual people and artists coming from the island have influenced the cultural life of Greece in all fields of letters and arts. The ancient tradition of the island, which, thanks to its geographic position, used to be an important cultural center, has proved true in modern times too.

In modern times, flourishing of letters on the island starts in the 15 th century and is manifested both in poetry and in prose. Several works of Zantiote authors are being published in Venice and become famous both among Greeks and Europeans. As a result of this vivid interest in education and culture, the first Academy in Greece is established at Zante in early 17 th century and in 1815 it is followed by the Academy of Free Meridional Islands, which has its seat on the island.

Click on any image to enlarge
click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

The 19 th century is the golden age of the intellectual life of the island; it during this century that two eminent Zantiote poets, Andreas Calvos and Dionyssios Solomos, live and work. In 1864, the long poem of Dionyssios Solomos “Hymn to Freedom», set to music by the Corfiote Nicolaos Mantzaros, becomes the National Anthem of Greece. The brilliance of Dionyssios Solomos had highly influenced the Greek Literature and resulted to the creation of the School of Eptanissa (Ionian Islands).

Among the most important authors and poets we shouldn’t forget to mention the Italian poet Hugo Foscolo, of Zantiote origin and Gregorios Xenopoulos, author, journalist and member of the Greek Academy.

Music is another important field of the culture of Zante. The “cantata” is a purely local music idiom, elaborated both in folk music and in pieces of known composers. The same happens with the “ arechia ” (a false pronunciation of the Italian term “a orrechio”, literary meaning “by the ear”), a kind of folk song in four parts.
The continuous cultural exchange with the West, mainly Italy, has strongly influenced the music tradition and taste of the people on the island. Opera and operetta was beloved kinds of music in Zakynthos and constituted links between nobles and the rest of the people. Thus, in 1815 it was established the first Music School in Greece, whereas in 1896, during the first Olympic games of modern times, the Music Band of Zakynthos took part to the event. It was the period when composers of Zantiote origin, as Domeneginis Kapnissis and others became famous in Europe.

Theater, with strong influence by the Italian folk theater, also flourished on the island, especially during the period of Venetian domination. The conquest of Crete by Ottomans (1669) helped a lot the development of theater in Zakynthos, as then many authors and other artists moved to the island. A local idiom has been created, where it is easy to detect the direct influence of the “comedia dell’ arte”, the Cretan theater of the period and the ancient Greek Drama.

Zantiotes loved theater and during the Venetian domination theater was very often part of the feasts of nobles. Later on theaters were also established which presented many plays not only of traditional kinds, but also of contemporary local authors.

click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

The excellent landscape and the artistic atmosphere of the island had stimulated several locals to deal with painting. Very soon some of the best-known hagiographers of the period were of Zantiote origin. Their works are still present in the Museums and the churches of the island. The initial influence from Crete resulted to the Creto-Zantiote School, but soon after the School of Eptanissa (Ionian Islands) was formed, where the traditional Byzantine style was composed with the Renaissance style of Italy. The most well known painters of this School were Panagiotis Doxaras, Nicolaos Coutouzis and Nicolaos Cantounis.

In more recent periods, several painters continue this great tradition of painting, the most important feature being the abandonment of the religious features and the emphasis to esthetics.

Woodcarving is another field of creation for the people of the island. As there are a lot of churches, woodcarving had been a vaster field for creation, mainly for the non-nobles. Almost every church of the island has an icon screen where wood has become an excellent means of expression and artistic creation. Having such a long tradition in carving it is not surprising that the silver reliquary containing the body of Aghios Dionyssios, the protector of the island, is a masterpiece of silver working.

In an area where arts are always present, it is normal to have interesting buildings too. Despite the total destruction of the buildings in 1953, Zakynthos of today has a very original architectural style, which combines the tradition of all cultures that passed from here: the Byzantine religious architecture stands side by side with Venetian buildings, and the French bourgeois ideas are linked with the innovations of the period of British domination. Every sample of architectural styles is present here: splendid mansions of old noble families, old and more recent churches, impressive monasteries, strong forts and arcades, but also simple urban and rural houses make an interesting blend giving to the island its wonderful character.
click to enlarge   click to enlarge   click to enlarge   click to enlarge   click to enlarge

Music in Zakynthos

In Zalkynthos (Zante) music is not merely a feature of culture; it is an essential component of everyday life of the people. As Leonidas Zois, a student of life and culture of Zakynthos puts it, the music on the island is a “sweet occupation”, both art and tradition. A tradition that goes back to mythology, as it is said that the people of Zakynthos was taught to make and play music by Apollo, the god of music, himself.

In most recent periods, religious music was the first to develop on a high level, mainly after the occupation of Candia (Herakleion) by the Ottomans in 1669; it was then that all artists and intellectual life of the Creto-Venetian culture moved to Eptanissa (Ionian Islands), and first of all to Zakynthos.

An original music system, the Creto-Ionian is established in religious music: the melody resembles to the Byzantine music, where it has its roots, but it is performed in the way of Occidental music (four voices).

Another originality of the Zantiote music is the folk songs known as “arechia”. The origins of the “arechia” are going back in time and it is a purely folk creation, with several elements of “impromptu”, both in music and in the lyrics. Sometimes, the lyrics are works of known poets.

In 1860, 60 Zantiotes music amateurs, on the initiative of the Italian music teacher Marco Battagel, established a Music Association, the first in Greece. The Association helped a lot to make the great European music familiar to the people of the island. The band formed was directed by eminent music directors and for many years it used to play music at the central squares of the town of Zakynthos. The Zantiote Chorus, with 40 members, excelled not only on the island and Greece, but also abroad, mainly in the 1960s’.

Apart from the guitar, mandolin is also a beloved instrument of the people of Zakynthos; it is always present in every music band strolling around in the night to sing for a girl, but also in the “official” string orchestras.

Other music bands active in Zakynthos are the important chorus “To Fioro tou Levante”, where both expert choristers and amateurs take part, aiming at diffusing good music in Zakynthos, but also to familiarize Greece and other countries of the world with the Zantiote music. Another important chorus is the religious one named “Kyria ton Angelon” (“the Lady of the Angels”); the chorus take part to every religious celebration on the island, the most important being the period of the Holy Week.
Back to Zakynthos island Home Page   View hotels in: