Set above Zakynthos Town in the region of Bochali, you will find the ancient Venetian Castle of Zakynthos. This is a wonderfully preserved park area, well worth a walk around.
The exact date of construction of the Venetian Castle is unknown, but it is estimated to have been built in 1480. The area of the Venetian castle was built on the site of the Ancient Acropolis. During the Venetian rule, the Castle was the capital of Zakynthos island.
Soon after been built, the Venetian castle in Zante was destroyed by invading Turks. But, in 1514 it was repaired, again under Venetian supervision.
Over the centre of the main entrance gates, you’ll see the sculptured crest of Venice, St Markos’ Lion. It is clear as you walk around the castle grounds, with its huge stone walls, towers and cannons, that the castle was once a major source of protection to the people Zakynthos.
The strong earthquakes that have frequently struck the island, have destroyed the fortifications so often that they had constantly to be rebuilt. The construction of the walls and the Fortress defensive system, which are still preserved today, was completed in 1646. The work was done by Venetian engineers and local builders, with great care and strong materials.
At that same time the main stone-paved road was laid down, running to the coast. An important programme of conservation of the Castle was carried out by the English in 1812 while they were in control of the island.
In 1970-71 the Archaeological Service undertook the consolidation of those sections of the walls and gates of the Fortress which were in danger of collapsing. Recent excavations at the Venetian Castle have found monuments from the Byzantine period, including a church dated back to the 12th century.
Despite the wear and tear through the ages, even today when visiting the Venetian Castle, you will see ancient stone vaulted prisons, canons, and central foundations of the fortress itself, along with the remains of several churches.