The Great Strofadi or Stamfani and Arpyia are two small islands located just 25
nautical miles from Zakynthos. These islands are natural monuments. They are a
port of call for rare waterfowl and their old-growth cedar forest is a marvel.
The Strofades are included on the IBA (Important Bird Areas) list. The Monastery
of the Virgin Pantohara, built like a fortress to protect the inhabitants from
pirates, was founded by Irene, daughter of the Nikaian emperor of Theodoros Laskaris.
It was later renovated under John V Palaeologos. Many well-known (and less well-known)
figures have lived the monastic life at Strofades, including Agios Dionysios,
the island's patron saint. When in 1716 the island was attacked by pirates, his
remains were here and were desecrated by them. It was then that it was decided
that they should be transferred to Zakynthos.