Villages in Alykes Zakynthos
The island of Zakynthos is divided into six districts of local government and Alykes is part of the district of Alykon, whose capital is Katastari. The local government of Alykon includes the villages of Katastari, Alykes, Alykanas, Amoudi, Pigadakia, Kallithea, Skoulikado, Gerakario, and Ag. Dimitris.
Katastari is the largest of all the villages in Zakynthos and is more like a small town which is divided into five areas Hartata, Mavra, Laperda, Central Katastari and Alykes Beach.
The name Katastari when translated means ‘lower wheat fields’ and was used only for agricultural means as the houses were high up in the mountain to provide safety from the pirates that used to come along the coast.
Katastari has a Pharmacy, junior and high school, town hall, police station, post office and many churches to explore, the largest being on the central plaza of the village (Panagia – Virgin Mary).
In the main square there is a Bakery, Kiosk, Fresh Meat Market, Coffee Bars and a Taverna. In Hartata you can visit Saint John Monastery (the icons in the main church are from 17th and 18th century). In Laperda you can see the villages’ main natural water spring. Pass through Laperda and walk all the way to the north end of Alykes Beach. In Alykes you can see the Salt lakes (Alykes translated to English means Salt field), St Nikolaos, (a small church close to the beach), Pentakamaro Bridge or one of the two little harbours.
Alykes is predominantly a tourist resort with a village atmosphere where the friendly locals make you feel like part of a big family. The resort has a wonderful fine sandy beach and clean clear blue sea with a vast choice of accommodation for its visitors.
There are also many restaurants where you can experience the delicious local greek cuisine or more international flavours; bars where you can sip a scrumptious cocktail and enjoy entertainment plus many local shops to be explored.
Alykanas is the neighbouring tourist resort of Alykes where you can find many restaurants, bars and shops nestled amongst olive groves and surrounded by lush green scenery.
A blend of traditional Greek character and modern amenities make this small resort an ideal retreat for families and couples looking to unwind by day and enjoy some spirited evenings in a resort where you can gain a real insight into the local way of life.On the outskirts is the original picturesque village now known as Old Alykanas, scattered with local tavernas serving inviting international cuisine and delicious Greek dishes. A few cafes and eateries lace the soft sandy beach where you can view the shimmering sunsets sinking down into the horizon.
Pigadakia is located at the foothills a steep, unscalable mountain known as Kaki Rahi and is named after the sulphurous wells (Pigi) that were found in the region. The church of St Pantaleimona which still has the original belfry temple with three bells and is dated 1611 has a well located under the altar and legend says that this water has special healing properties. To this day people still use this holy water especially on the festival day of the church. The other church is named St Varvara and houses many icons from the church of Vlacharena and other destroyed churches.
Also in Pigadakia is the Vertzagio cultural museum which takes you back over 200 years in Greek history to see how the Greeks used to live. The museum has a traditional bedroom, lounge, dining room with original furniture and decoration of the period. Also there is a chance to see a traditional kitchen with all the original utensils and stone oven along with lots of other things associated with a green family i.e. old money, newspapers clothes, linen etc. Outside of the museum is the original horse-drawn agricultural machinery that was used to grind wheat in to flour, press grapes into wine and also to process olives into olive oil. Here you can purchase traditional gifts and sample local farm produce.
Kalithea literal translation into the English language means ‘Good view’ and it is easy to see why with its lush green scenic countryside, the old picturesque village is amphitheatrically built amongst olive groves and vineyards with the stunning backdrop of the Vrachionas Mountain. Most villagers originally lived on the mountainside although there are many ruined buildings there now.
The church of St Marina is located on the side of the mountain and although ruined the main doorway and bell tower still remains which is dated 1886. Close to the church is the original olive production site where the harvested olives were taken to produce olive oil.
The traditional building and equipment still remains to this day although production now takes place in a modern factory in the lower village.
Also located in Kalithea is a brand new medical centre which is open everyday and has small A&E department along with general practitioners and a paediatrician.
The village has its own Pharmacy, Café, Mini-market, Bakery and Butchers.
Skoulikado is a traditional Zakynthian village with a rich cultural heritage. It is the centre of the island’s theatrical history and famous for it omilias (a type of social folk play), popular theatre and public speaking. To this day there are annual plays performed in the area.
The most striking feature of the village is the church of the Virgin Mary of Anafonitrias which is built on a natural terrace, high on the hill and has stunning views overlooking the plains and surrounding countryside. The church is has a fine square bell-tower which is 34m high and the inside of the church is one of the most beautiful on the island. The other church is St Nikolas Megalomati has an icon of the saint impressed on the stone floor and legend has it that it was discovered this way, the only thing that the human hand added was the silver border around the icon.
The village has a post office, supermarket and cafes.
Agios Dimitrios Village
Agios Dimitrios is a pretty mountain village, on the unspoilt west coast of Zakynthos. The village is named after a Bishop of Catania in Sicily, who when canonised became Saint Dimitrios, and a church was built in his honour in the village in the 14th Century. There are several other churches in Aghios Dimitrios including St Anne, St George and St John the Baptist.
The village has a rich production of raisins which can be seen during the summer months as well as olive oil production. In the village you will find a school, cafes, supermarket, bakery and butchers.
Gerakario is composed of three villages, namely Kato Gerakario, Meso Gerakario and Ano Gerakario. Their names refer to their geographical location, as Kato is the Greek word for lower, Meso means middle and Ano means upper - so their names mean lower, middle and upper village but are referred to collective as Gerakario.
In Meso Gerakario is the church of Holy Trinity with its many icons and beautiful wood carved altar screen. At the village cemetery is the church of St George which is said to have been built on the foundations of an ancient temple of the God Apollo. The saints feast day was celebrated here with horse racing events.
At Ano Gerakario is the church of St Nikolas which is built on the green hill Anemodouri. This location has a fantastic view which spreads to the surrounding hills and the plain as far as the castle of Zakynthos. The other church in the area is called Virgin Mary of Lankadiotissa which hosts the icon of the Holy Mother holding Christ which once belonged to the monastery of St Paraskevi. When pirates attacked in 1686 and destroyed the monastery the icon was saved and taken to its present position.
The villages are located between the tourist resorts of Alykes and Tsilivi and are easily accessible and include the coastal area of Amoudi which is a traditional beauty spot and ideal for peaceful and relaxing holidays.
All the villages have a sleepy, relaxed atmosphere and have been untouched by tourism so remain traditional. Verdant scenery surrounds the area and there are many good small and uncrowded beaches in the vicinity.