The village Pramata near Tzoumerka Mountain
Arta, the capital town of this district.
is built along the banks of the Arahthos River and at the
foot of Peranthi hill on the site of ancient Amvrakia, a Corinthian
In 295 B.C. King Pyrrhus transferred the capital
of his kingdom to Amvrakia, which he used as a base from which
to attack the Romans. The town is not mentioned under the
name of Arta until 1082. In 1204 after the fall of Constantinople
to the Crusaders, it became the capital of the Despotate of
Epirus. The Turks conquered it in 1449 and it was liberated
from them in 1881.
A town with its own personal atmosphere, modern
Arta has much to attract the visitor, including many Byzantine
churches and the 13th century castle that overlooks it.
Church of Agios Vassilios: A small
13th century edifice, whose facade is decorated with enamebled
tiles and bricks set in a hound' s tooth pattern. The important
frescoes and icons in the interior are of equal interest.
Church of Agia Theodora (Arta'
s patron saint): This 13th century basilica has three narthexes
and a vestibule. The capitals on the columns in the sanctuary
originally belonged to an Early Christian building of the
5th or 6th century. Here too the frescoes are of great interest.
Church of Panagia Parigoritissa (the
former Cathedral): Built in I 295 by Anna Pataiologos,
it is notable for the bold and innovative method used to support
its dome. The vault is covered with mosaics, the sculptures
are Italianate, and the icons (13th - 16th century) on the
iconostasis and the frescoes in the narthex are superb.
Ancient Amvrakia: Recent excavations
(1976) brought to light the theatre - of which the small orchestra
and four rows of seats have been preserved - the foundations
of the Doric temple of Pythian Apollo (5th century B.C.),
sections of the ancient walls, and the base of a 6th century
The Amvrakian wetlands
The Parigoritissa Museum houses some
of the archaeological finds from the region, the rest are
in the museum in Yanina.
Arta, Panagia Parigoritissa church
The bridge of Arta: Arta' s most famous
landmark, this bridge lies on the road between Arta and Filipiada
Yanina. Its reputation derives not only from its architectural
elegance but also from the romantic legends associated with
it and immortalized in folk songs and novels, including The
Bridge of Arta by Kazantzakis.
While its foundations date from Early Christian times, it was completed under the Despotate of Epirus. The most recent additions and repairs took place around 1612.
Sightseeing in the
The district of Arta abounds in Byzantine
churches (ask for the guidebook published by the Municipality),
of which the most important are:
Agios Vassilis of the Bridge (tis Gefiras):
A little church northwest of the bridge. For many centuries,
it was half covered in earth; removal works were completed
in 1972. Scholars date the construction of the church to the
9th century. It has an impressive dome, which is disproportionately
high in relation to the size of the rest of the building.
The bridge of Arta
- The Monastery of Kato Panagia (3
km. from Arta): There are interesting frescoes on the facade
of the narthex and in the interior of this 12th century church.
The bases and capitals of the columns that separate the aisles
were taken from Late Roman buildings in Amvrakia.
Agios Dimitrios Katsouris (5 km. from
Arta, at Plisii): This is a cruciform church built in the
I Oth century with a dome and three semicircular apses. The
most recent layer of frescoes dates to the I 7th and 18th
Panagia of Viaherna (directly opposite
Arta at the village of Viahema): A three aisled vaulted basilica
erected in the 12th
century with important frescoes painted in the 13th century.
The fresco in the narthex depicting the procession of Panaoa
Odigitria is a unique composition, mainly because of its treatment
of detail in its portrayal of the faithful in attendance.
Panagia of Brioni (near the village
of Neohoraki): This II th century church was once part of
a large monastic cornmunity dedicated to the Virgin. Of major
interest is the ceramic ornamentation both in the lunettes
of the cupolas and on the eastern facade.
Agios Nikolaos of Rodia (near the village
of Vioa): A 13th century church with 14th century frescoes.
The red church (near the village of
Voulgareli): Dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin, this
Ilth century cruciform church has no dome and only a few of
its frescoes are still visible.
Panagia of Koronissia (in the village
of the same name): Built in the 10th
century, this church is all that remains of a once flourishing
monastery. The exterior of the church is rather unusual in
shape: The eastern part is cruciform, while the western part
is covered by a continuous inclining roof. Its frescoes are
much later, dating from the 17th century.
Apart from the Byzantine churches and monasteries, the scenery of the Arta district is very varied, the wildness of its mountain ranges contrasting with the tranquillity of the broad plain of Arta. We leave it up to you to discover the charms of both.