OTHER INTERESTING SIGHTSEEING SITES
One finds in the name of Arta a number of Byzantine churches and monasteries. The value of these monasteries has not been stressed, and restorations have not yet been undergone.
Panayia of Vlaherna one of the better known Byzantine churches, is located in a village of Vlaherna, about 9 km from Arta. This basilica of three vessels from the XIII C. is covered by a dome and decorated with magnificent frescoes of the same time period.
This church is considered to have been the mausoleum of the Comnene-Doukas dynasty, because several members have been buried here. Moreover, the village deserves a merit for its fabulous view of Arta.
Koronisia(25 km) is situated at the extremity of a expansive stretch of land, which advances from the Ambracic Gulf. The presence of the Byzantine church Panayia Koroniotissa (Xth C.) a unique remain of an ancient monastery, which was once very prosperous, evokes a particularly picturesque site. The church itself, is covered by an inclined roof from the western side, and the frescoes date back to the XVII C.
At the little taverns along the cost of Koronisia, one should not miss the opportunity to taste the variety of fish from the Ambracic Gulf, which are wonderfully prepared and served.
Voulgareli is a pretty village of beautiful rock fountains, hid in the vast greenness of 740 km of altitude and watered by the numerous springs of the region. The red Church (Kokkini Ekklisia) is found in the proximity of the village. The church takes the of cross, has no dome, was built in the XIII C., and consecrates the Virgin Mary. Unfortunately, there no longer remain the frescoes that once decorated the church.
Komboti (12 km) is known in Greece for being the homeland of Nikolaos Skoufas, the founder of the Society of Friends (Filiki Etairia- 1815). This village is one of the most prosperous in the region and was built under Turkish occupation.
Peta, a historical fort, famous for having been the stage of a battle between the Greeks and Turks in 1822 was also the place where about 80 philhellenes perished. The church of Agios Georgios protects magnificent grave stones dating back to 1642.
The monastery of Seltsou founded in 1697, thanks to the gift of two vessel captains by the names of Nikos and Apostolis, made it in 1804 well known headquarters.
This is where the villagers of Souli, under the command of Kitsos Botsaris, fought against the Turks for four months. Finally, the monastery was invaded and the women and children preferred to fall from a neighboring precipice, rather than fall into the hands of the enemy.
The monastery of Skoulikaria, of which only the church remains, dedicated to the Sleeping of the Virgin (reconstructed in 1867), is also bound to the war of Independence, because General George Karaiskakis was born in one of the cells.
In Arta one also finds many mountain villages bordering with the seashores, which have conserved their traditional character and charm the visitor with their natural beauty and architecture, like Ammotopos, which was constructed on the ruins of ancient Orraon.
The waters of the Ambracic Gulf, the orange-tree plantations, the olive groves and the massive imposition of the Tzoumerka mountains, compose an admirable frame of nature, which offers another aspect of Greece.
The lagoons of the Logaros, of Tsoukalios, and of Rodias, at the shore of the Ambracic, count among the most important Greek aquatic biotopes, which are protected by the international RAMSAR treaty, by reason of the enormous ecological interest, which it presents. The flora and fauna are particularly rich. One finds, among other, a small and rare species of pelicans, the Pelecanus crispus. The lagoons were well-known during the Byzantine times for their fish farms and breeding of eels.
But, the Ambracic Gulf is not just a source of life; it is also a source of inspiration for painters and writers. This scenery has largely been used in theater backgrounds and served as a frame for several good movies.
It is for all those reasons that many specialists, after having studied the many possibilities this region has to offer, have proposed diverse solutions to make use of the region's values. Among others:
a. The development of scholarly tourism (Greek and foreign) for the creation of new State youth hostels and religious organizations, which would make use of the already existent cells.
b. The promotion and taking value of classical and Byzantine antiquities.
c. The development of mountain tourism for the creation of refuges and paths on the Tzoumerka mountains.
d. The development of assembly tourism for better usage of the Center of Municipal Expositions of Arta, unique in its Greek genre, in combination with the Center of Municipal Assembly involved with construction.
e. Development of sports tourism for the creation and installation of sports on the Arachthos mountains and also founding a Center for Sports Medicine at a national level in Arta.
f. Development of ecological tourism by reason of the ecological characteristics particular to Arta.
All these projects cannot be projects cannot be carried out unless there is a re-evaluation and protection of the environment. Any tourist development must be founded on the respect of historical sites of Arta and their value.
The development of tourism will be a great cultural act with guarantees for future societies as much as are democratic programs.
Villagers of Arta and visitors- Greeks and foreigners- let us circulate in the streets in celebration of the city, united by the spirit and dialogue of a new civilization.