Zarakas has played an important role in the history of the region since antiquity, through the Byzantine and Middle Ages up until more recent times when it was the site of a number of events in the Greek war of independence.

Scattered throughout the area is a wealth of evidence showing its part in history. Most of the ancient settlements were destroyed, to be rebuilt during the Byzantine period, as is evident from the churches, monasteries and other buildings dating from that time.

Where the town of Gerakas now stands is believed to have been the site of the ancient town of Zarax, founded by a ruler of the same name. It was destroyed in 272 BC.

According to one theory, the word Zarax comes from “Za” which meant “a lot”

and “rax” which meant “thrown down”, referring to the destruction of the town.

The most likely explanation is that the area was named after the ancient town of Zarax that was situated at the entrance to the present day port of Gerakas.

Since antiquity it has always been valued as a safe port and natural fortification.  According to Pausanias, it ws built by the Lacedaemonian hero Zarakas or Zarikas (between 1300 and 1200 BC).

In 1462 it was subjugated by the Turks who ruled it for the next 400 years, apart from some periods when it came under Venetian rule. The Venetians built walls around the port and barred the entrance with chains, leading to the name Porto Cadenas.

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