Zakynthos History

Limni Keri was inhabited in prehistoric times. In 1936 tools and ceramics dating back to Neolithic times were found in the area of Castello.
The picturesque harbour of Limni Keri is the famous ancient harbour of Zakynthos, known by all in ancient times, it was an important trading centre for the whole island. It was spacious and could be used in times of war and for trading purposes. The harbour was used by the Spartans, the Athenians and the Romans. For this reason, all the city-states of ancient times wished for alliance with Zakynthos.
The beach and the harbour of Limni Keri were known in ancient times as "Nafthi" It may have been here that the ancient council of "Nyllou"once existed. It was created by the democratic ancient Zakynthians with the help of the Athenians in 374BC, when they deserted the capital of the island after the prevalence of oligarchy.
The name (lake) is mentioned for the first time by Herodotus on his journey to "Thourious" in Italy when he visited the island in the 5th century BC. He mentions more specifically "I saw tar and water spouting in the lake. In this place there are more lakes, the biggest of these has an area of seventy feet and her depth is two arm's length. In this lake they lower wooden poles, after tying on them myrtle and with the myrtle they raise the tar, which has the smell of asphalt. They pour the tar into a pit dug close to the lake, and when they have gathered enough they pour it into amphorae. Whatever falls into the lake travels under the earth and appears in the sea, which is approximately four stadiums from the lake".
Many doubtless presumptions have been composed regarding the historical records of the time. In ancient times people came here from various places of the known world, they took the tar, which they mixed with resin and used it to caulk and paint their ships.
Today the source is near the public road, approximately 500 metres from the sea. It is called the "Spring of Herodotus", and even today spurts clear metallic spring water.
There are other springs which gush water (approximately 15), forming three small rivers, which flow, through the reeds and past small bridges into the sea. In the water live fish, eels and marsh turtles. In days of old, raisins and grapes were cultivated between the three small rivers. The residents kept this difficult land fertile, and when necessary would all gather to clear the central rivers, protecting their crops from floods. The crops were destroyed when, during the Balkan wars there were no workers to keep the rivers clear, resulting in floods and destruction of the crops.
On the high grounds of Kastello and Paliopyrgo, left and right of the lake, there were fortresses to protect the entrance to the harbour.For centuries the Sarakini and Barbarezi pirates pillaged the area. These frequent and terrible raids left deep marks on historical memory. Of those raids worth mentioning is the one that which recalls the story of the 'people's cave'. For this cave there is the following folk tale. When the Algerian pirates landed at Keri harbour the residents of the village left their homes and hid in the mountains and in the caves.
The pirates, however, found a dog that was sniffing around. They followed it and came to a cave that was full of one hundred and fifty locals, men, women and children.
Wanting to exterminate the people inside, the pirates lit a big fire in the entrance to the cave. Everyone inside, apart from one woman died from smoke inhalation.
Because of this occurrence the cave was named 'the people's cave' and the mountain 'the people's mountain'.
Immediately after the event, the pirates continued their raid and headed straight for Keri. Suddenly, just before they reached the village, a strange thing occurred. They came across such thick fog that they could not see in front of them. Not being able to continue, and losing their direction, they were forced to desert their plans and return to their ships and leave.
The villagers of Keri considered they were saved by a miracle by the icon of the Holy Virgin of Keri. Wanting to honour the Holy Virgin, they built a glorious church on the site of the monastery, which became famous.
On the mountain pass, at the place where the pirates turned back, the villagers built a pillar to honour the miracle of the Virgin, which still exists today.