A tour of Romas Mansion – on Zakynthos

November 5, 2008 by  

I wrote in my introduction to Zakynthos, that this Greek island is more a place for sun and relaxation than for culture, but at Romas Mansion in Zante town I found the exception to the rule.

At Romas mansion in Zante town

Romas Mansion is one of the few old house in Zante town that survived the earthquake of 1953 and subsequent fire which destroyed practically the whole town. It is the home of the aristocratic Romas family and was opened a couple of years ago to give a glimpse into the life of one of the leading political families on the island.

At Romas mansion in Zante town

The Mansion was built in the 1660s by the English Vice consul on Zakynthos and during the period of the English Protection (1814-1864) was used as the English Governor’s Residence and seat of government on Zakynthos. In the 1880s the house was bought by Alexander Romas, Government minister and President of the Greek Parliament and has remained in his family to this day.

Landing in Roma's Mansion in Zante town

When I visited Romas Mansion with my sister, who lives on Zakynthos, I was surprised by the beauty and elegance of the house and its contents. I had a preconception of people on Zakynthos living as farmers or fishermen, but this house gives a peek into the gilded and affluent lifestyle of the aristocracy on the island. Here were beautiful furniture, family portraits, leatherbound books and furnishings which would not have looked out of place in a stately home in England.

Roma's Mansion in Zante town

Included in the €5 entry fee was a guided tour of the house, by a guide who spoke excellent English. He pointed out that the house and nearby chapel were built at least a metre below the current street level, as the whole town had been rebuilt at a higher level after the 1953 earthquake, on top of the rubble of the buildings destroyed. The house looks directly onto the sea, but where you now have to cross the busy harbour road, the house once had private access to the beach. Although the house was badly damaged in the earthquake it was rebuilt, albeit without the top floor and side wings, as we could see from the old photos on display.

Church beside Romas Mansion

The family still live in the mansion, closing their private rooms when the house is open to the public, although when we chatted to the daughter of the house who was manning the gift shop, she told us that it was not really very comfortable for a modern lifestyle. I couldn’t really imagine inviting my friends round and having a riotous time there either but it was a great place to get an insight into the history of the island before taking in a coffee in the main square just round the corner.

Romas Mansion, Louka Carrer 19, Zante town, Zakynthos, 29100
Tel +30 26950 28381 Website www.romas.gr

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14 Comments on "A tour of Romas Mansion – on Zakynthos"

  1. My travelling year in 2008 : Heather on her travels on Thu, 1st Jan 2009 7:46 pm 

    [...] My top three beaches on Zakynthos Sunday morning coffee and glika on Zakynthos A tour of Romas Mansion on Zakynthos [...]

  2. Sunday morning Greek coffee and glika - in Zakynthos : Heather on her travels on Sun, 22nd Mar 2009 8:29 pm 

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  4. gordon smith on Sun, 6th Dec 2009 7:41 pm 

    Am writing a book ( my 4th) about early Queensland History. Our first Governor (1859) had a wife named Diamantina Roma from Zante.
    Have you any idea where the Roma family lived in the 1840s….until I read your page I had thought it was in the Mansion you describe.
    Most important question…was her home above the sea? Or down by the harbour?
    Reason it’s important is that the book is entitled Lady Bowen’s Stairway and the steps etc become the central metphor in my historical fiction. cheers

  5. Heather Cowper on Sun, 6th Dec 2009 7:51 pm 

    @Gordon Smith
    I would have thought that could have been the case, but you could contact the Romas Mansion to find out more on the history of the family.The website details are on the post

    The mansion is indeed right by the sea. Now there is a road between the house and the sea shore which skirts the town, but it was only build after the earthquake in the 1950s. Before that, you could walk directly from the house, to the shore and it’s a pretty rock stretch – there could well have been some steps down.

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    [...] Saving the Caretta Caretta turtle on Zakynthos,Greece A wine tasting at Oenolpi Winery on Zakynthos, Greece A tour of Romas Mansion on Zakynthos [...]

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  10. Zante or Zakynthos - sightseeing around the island in Greece - Podcast | Heather on her travels on Tue, 31st Aug 2010 9:20 pm 

    [...] Visit a beautifully furnished 18th century Greek mansion at Romas Mansion in Zante town [...]

  11. Exploring the history of Zakynthos – in Greece_Go Time Travel Blog | Go Time Travel Blog on Tue, 28th Feb 2012 12:50 am 

    [...] the places mentioned The Venetian Fort at Bohali on Zakynthos A tour of Romas Mansion on Zakynthos Religious art from before the earthquake on Zakynthos [...]

  12. Exploring the history of Zakynthos - in Greece | Heather on her travels on Tue, 28th Aug 2012 3:12 am 

    [...] in GreeceMore articles about the places mentionedThe Venetian Fort at Bohali on ZakynthosA tour of Romas Mansion on ZakynthosReligious art from before the earthquake on ZakynthosVisiting St Denis Monastery on ZakynthosThis [...]

  13. Darlene on Fri, 7th Jun 2013 1:13 pm 

    My Romas line traces to Bucharest, Greece by submission of My DNA testing as I was at a loss in finding records. I have submitted some research on ancestry.com. I do not know but I would enjoy learning if my line connects or if you might know of this family line. My William G Romas married Malinda and the earliest record in the US early 1800. They had many children. Thank you for your time and your help in connecting Romas family.

  14. Heather Cowper on Fri, 7th Jun 2013 9:20 pm 

    @Darlene If you are interested in checking the connection you could e-mail the family who own this house on info@romas.gr – they have a whole library of old books in their house.

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