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
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.
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
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.
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.