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Zakynthos Town Sightseeing

There are several places and monument worth seeing at the modern town of Zakynthos that lies at the foot of the Bohali hill. First of all it is the impressive Venetian walls overlooking the town from the green clad of the hill. The walls are very well preserved and if the tourist decides to visit them, he/she will discover that apart from the imposing appearance of the walls, the area offers also a wonderful view of the town and of the major part of the island. In the evening, when lights are on, it offers a fascinating spectacle as it looks like suspended above the town, enlightened too.

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The churches of the town are another set of monuments worth seeing. They present a multiple interest: architectural, artistic religious and historic. The most important among them are the founded-on-a-cross church of Aghios Nicolaos tou Molou, built in 1560; it is one of the churches where Aghios Dionyssios, the protector saint of the island, served as a vicar (1583). The Catholic church of Aghios Marcos (St. Marc), the only Catholic Church dated back from the period of the Venetian domination is found at the homonymous square. The church of Aghios Dionyssios, built in 1708 is interesting for its tower bell, from where the visitor has a wonderful view of the town. The church is also worth seeing for its icons, made by important Zantiote hagiographers as Coutouzis and Doxaras. But the most impressive of all is the silver reliquary, finely elaborated, where it is kept the body of the Saint. The churches of Panaghia ton Angelon (“Holy Virgin of the Angels”), Panaghia Faneromeni, Panaghia Pikridiotissa and the cathedral of Aghios Nicolaos are worth a visit, for their interesting architectural features, their decoration and their history. Finally, the church of Aghios Georgios ton Filikon (St. George) is important because it is here that several fighters of the Greek Revolution of 1821 took their oath to fight for freedom.

The town has interesting museums, the most important of which are the Museum of Dionyssios Solomos and of illustrious Zantiotes, the Museum of National Resistance 1940-45, housed at the ground floor of the Public Library, with a good collection of archives, documents and photos of the period, copies of the illegal press issued by the Resistance organizations and various souvenirs. The fans of Byzantine art should visit the Museum of Post-Byzantine Art, where it is housed an excellent collection of important icons of the Cretan School and the School of the Eptanissa (Ionian Islands).

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The two squares in the city center, Dionyssios Solomos square and Aghiou Markou (St. Marc) square, quite characteristic places with stone paved streets to surround them, are still the meeting points of the locals as they used to be for centuries. In front of Dionyssios Solomos square you will see the statue of the national poet of Greece after whom the square has been named. Another characteristic point of the town is Rouga, where you will see the buildings with their beautiful arches, housing various stores, both traditional and modern. And you will certainly pass from Strada Marina, the road along the coast, where you may walk by the sea or enjoy your coffee in one of the numerous cafes and pastry shops you will find there.

While strolling around, it is worth seeing the nice buildings of the Public Library, the Byzantine Museum, the Municipal Cultural Center, the Prefecture’s building and the buildings housing the Court, the banks and Solomos Museum.

And, of course, don’t miss to stroll around with the little wheel-driven train, one of the attractions of the town.

You should certainly stroll around in Bohali, the small, cute, scenic quarter on the hill, just below the Castle, to enjoy the scents of the flowers of the gardens and the magnificent view of the town and the sea.

And, if you feel like leaving the center, you may visit the Stranis hill, some 2 – 2,5 kilometers far away, near Akrotiri. The hill with luxuriant green of pine trees was one of the beloved places of Dionyssios Solomos who, according to tradition, it is here that he inspired his long poem “Hymn to Freedom”, that later became the National Anthem of Greece.

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A lot of cultural activities, as theater, plastic and visual arts’ exhibitions, concerts and musical performances are organised during the summer by the Prefecture of the island and the Municipality of the town, in cooperation with local cultural associations. Quite a lot of people, an enthusiastic public of locals and visitors, attend all these events.

One of the most well-known and popular cultural events of the island is the Carnival feast, with the happening of the “Funeral of the Masque” along with several music concerts, mainly promoting the local musical tradition.

Easter is also interesting in Zakynthos, with a more religious character; it is worth attending the ceremony and the procession of the Epitaph, accompanied by music of the local orchestra and bands.

But the peak of feasts of the island is the celebration of the two feasts in honor of Aghios Dionyssios, the protector saint of the island; the first takes place on the 24 th of August, and it is celebrated the memory of the translation of the relics of the Saint from Strofades to the town (1717); the second is held on the 17 th of December, when it is celebrated the Saint’s name day. In both of them, apart from the religious feast, there are also high-level cultural and artistic events
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