Byzantine Museum of Zante
Visit one of the best museums in the Ionian islands.
Holiday visitors can take time off from the beaches of Zante to visit one of the best museums to be found in the Ionian islands of Greece.
The Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos is located in the heart of Zakynthos Town in Solomou Square, in Zakynthos town and houses a rich collection of art and artefacts from Byzantine times to the 19th century.
The museum is the largest on the island of Zante and certainly the most impressive of a large number of museums to be found in the island capital town.
The current building was erected in the wake of the 1953 earthquake and it opened its doors to the public in 1960.
Holiday visitors can admire a very rich collection of icons as well as various ecclesiastical items, notably some really magnificent carved wood iconostases, the large screens often found in Greek churches that are covered in painting and icons.
The museum also houses paintings and drawings from the Byzantine era up to the 19th century with works by many notable Zante island artists such as Doxaras, Koutouzis, Kallergis, Damaskinos and Tzanes.
On entering the museum the visitor is immediately struck by images of how the island of Zante was before the devastating earthquake of 1953 that reduced many of the island's buildings to rubble.
As well as photographs of the pre-earthquake life and times of Zante there are images of the ruined houses and churches in the wake of the tragedy.
The visitor can also admire a wooden scale model of Zakynthos by the artist Yianni Manesi depicting the town as it was between 1930 and 1950, complete with an ancient grindstone that was used to press the harvested grapes and olives.
The island of Zante has a long history and was inhabited in prehistoric times. There are references to Zante in the epic poems of Homer and Island culture has been much influenced by various invaders and occupiers, from the Romans and Venetians to Byzantines and others.
The collection in the Byzantine Museum consists not only of works from Zante. There are frescoes painted by Cretan artists and many impressive sculptures and statues from the 16th century.
Some of the most important exhibits in the museum are a gilded carved wood templon from the church of Agios Demetrios from 1690, a painting of a procession with the relics of Agios Charalambos by Ioannes Korais in 1756, the 18th century painting of the Virgin from the Ceiling of the Phaneromene byDoxaras and the sanctuary door from the Panaghia Gavalousa, with the Apostles Peter and Paul dating from the second half of the 16th century.