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Arta History

 
Arta is built upon the remains of ancient Ambracia which was founded by the Corinthians in the late 7th century BC. At that time, Corinth minted its first coins; in fact, the strategic position of the region allowed the Corinthians to control the silver deposits of Illyria.

 Ambracia remained an ally of the Corinthians and the Spartans throughout the entire length of the Peloponnesian War. Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, came to power in 295 BC. The first foundations of the well-known bridge of Arta were laid under his reign. The town was deserted in Roman times but rose from oblivion during the rule of the Comnenus family. In the early 13th century, Arta became the capital of the despotate of Epirus which was established by Michael I Angelus Comnenus.

Many of the sumptuous churches that still adorn the modern city date back to the period in question. The town was captured by the Serbs in 1346 and the Turks in 1449. In 1662, the Patriarch of Jerusalem founded a school in Arta that contributed to the instruction of the Greek nation. Arta attained glory mainly during the period of the Turkish occupation and the rule of Ali Pasha who seized it in 1796.

He maintained his authority over the region until 1820. The inhabitants of Arta bravely fought against the conqueror. The town is associated with famous battles, such as the combat conducted at the Seltsou Convent

Arta, the second largest town in Ipiros, is 360 km from Athens. The town is known for its famous stone bridge, the largest and oldest in Greece and for the numerous Byzantine monuments in and around the town. The Arta Bridge is on the outskirts of the town and spans the River Arahthos. Inside the town stands the large church of Panagia Parigoritissa (built in the 13th century), unique in style throughout Greece because it contains several elements of Western architecture in its interior and has a peculiar system of supports for its dome. Nowadays the church is used as a museum exhibiting finds belonging to various periods.  

The town's ancient theatre and its fortress have also survived. Other churches belonging to Byzantine times, sited in the town of Arta, are those of Agion Theodoron which contains very attractive capitals and Agios Vasilios with excellent ceramic exterior decoration. At small distances in the surroundings of Arta, there is the Monastery of Kato Panagia, the Monastery of Vlachairnon and the churches of Agios Demetrios Katsoulis and Panagia Rodia, all belonging to the period when Ipiros was under Despotic rule (13th century). 

With Arta as a point of departure, it is worth taking the road which follows the banks of the Arahthos River and goes through the villages of Rodavgi and Dafnoti to a spot known as Plaka where is a graceful, old stone bridge and from where the road leads on to Agnanda (58 kms from Arta) and thence to Pramanda (70 kms from Arta). Both are head villages or townships built in the large meadow surrounded by the tall peaks of the Southern Pindus range.

At a distance of 5 kms from Pramanda, there is the Anemotripa Pramandon cave. In the surrounding mountain area there are numerous villages to visit which retain B traditional characteristics, such as Mahouki, Melissourgi and others. Taking another road out of Arta one can drive to Skoulikaria (50 kms). Nearby stands the Monastery of Kimissis Theotokou originally an 11th century building which was burnt down during Greece's War of Independence in 1821 and was rebuilt in 1854.

 
 

 

  

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