Zakynthos... The Flower of the Orient
Zakynthos, or Zante, is among the most beautiful and popular islands of the Ionian Sea. It is world famous for its crystal waters and intense nightlife. The Venetians had given the island the name ``Fioro di Levante``, meaning the ``Flower of the Orient`` as the island has rich and dense vegetation, its mountains are covered with pines and its plains are particularly fertile. Due to the mild Mediterranean climate of the island, characterized by a high level of rainfalls in winter and lots of sunshine in summer, Zakynthos is a very fertile island and its agricultural production is significant. The main products cultivated on the island are olives, vineyards and citrus. Zakynthos is famous for its unspoilt natural environment, home to the endangered species of the sea turtle Caretta Caretta and one of its most important breeding grounds in the Mediterranean. It is also an important breeding area for the monk seal Monachus Monachus. Sea turtles are protected by an international agreements and Greek legislation. Zakynthos is also famous for its amazing wonderful golden sandy beaches. Zakynthos’ beaches are famous for their natural beauty and their exotic emerald water. The most famous is the spectacular Navagio Beach (Shipwreck), which has soft white sand, turquoise waters, encircled by impressive cliffs and can be visited only by boat. This cove has a wrecked ship on its shore. Most Zakynthos beaches on the eastern side of the island are organized, while the beaches on the western side are secluded. Nice beaches include Gerakas, Vassilikos, Spiantza, Laganas, Tsilivi, Kalamaki, Agios Nikolaos, Porto Zoro and Alykes. Many of the island's beaches have become lively beach resorts offering hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars but others have been declared protected areas for the reproduction of the Caretta-Caretta and have retained their natural beauty. This rare sea turtle usually prefers sandy beaches or isolated islets like Pelouzo or Marathonisi.
Apart from its beautiful natural environment, Zakynthos has also a long and rich culture, mostly influenced by the Venetians. The island is known for its elegant musical tradition, cuisine and for its special architecture, which is particularly evident in Zakynthos Town.