Arta, Greece Tourist Attractions
Árta, chief town of a nomos (district) in Epirus, lies on the left bank of the river Árakhthos, on the site of ancient Ambrakia, which gave its name to the almost completely land-locked Ambracian Gulf on the Ionian Sea.
Founded in the seventh century B.C. by settlers from Corinth, Ambrakia became in 297 B.C. the capital of the Molossian king Pyrrhos of Epirus. In 31 B.C. the population of the town was transferred to the newly founded city of Nikopolis. In the A.D. 13th century the town, now known as Árta, became capital of the Despotate of Epirus, the rulers of which were related to the Imperial house of the Angeloi and for a time, during the Frankish occupation of Constantinople, themselves bore the title of emperor. This period left its mark on Árta in the form of the castle built on the site of the ancient acropolis (now occupied by the Xenia Hotel) and a number of churches in the town and monasteries in the surrounding area. In 1318 Árta fell into the hands of the Norman lordship of Kefalloniá; in 1340 it returned briefly to Byzantine control; in 1348 it became part of the Serbian principality of Ioánnina; in 1449 it was occupied by the Turks; and in 1881 it was united with Greece.Bus connections with Athens and towns in Epirus.
On a hill on the north side of the town, near Platía Skoufas, stands the church of the Panayía Parigorítissa (Mother of God the Swiftly Consoling), built about 1290 by Despot Nikifóros, a massive and imposing cube-shaped structure, with three superimposed tiers of columns supporting the 79ft/24m high dome. The church was partly built with material from the ruins of the Roman city of Nikopolis. The dome has mosaics of Christ Pantokrator and prophets. On the iconostasis is an icon of the church's patroness, the Mother of God the Swiftly Consoling.
The Parigoritissa Museum houses some of the archeological finds from the region, others are in the museum in Ioánnina.
Opening hours: Jan 1 to Dec 31: 8:30am-3pm; Sun: 8am-3pm; Sat: 8am-3pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Greek National Day (Mar 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Easter - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €2.00, Concession or reduced rate €1.00, Students from EU FREE, Child 18 & under FREE
Useful tips: Admission is free on Sundays between November and March.
Ayía Theodóra Church
The church of Ayía Theodóra dates from the 13th century. It was enlarged by the mother of Despot Nikifóros, Theodóra (later recognized as a saint), after the murder of her husband, Michael II (1271). In the narthex is her sarcophagus, the front of which has a fine relief carving of Theodóra and her small son. Her dual role as ruler and as saint is expressed by her dress, with a nun's veil over her royal robes, and her attitude, with her right hand holding a scepter and her left raised in the gesture of blessing.
Áyios Vasílios and the Turkish Bridge
Features of interest in Árta include the 14th century church of Áyios Vasílios, with brick and tile decoration on the exterior, and a gracefully arched stone bridge over the Árakhthos (on the right of the road to Ioánnina).
St Basil of the Bridge Church
The little church of St Basil of the Bridge Church lies northwest of the Árta bridge. The church, which dates to the 9th Century, was unearthed in the early 1970s.
Káto Panagía Church & Vlakhernai Monastery
Around the town of Árta are numerous churches and monasteries, notably the church of Káto Panayía to the north and the Vlakhernai monastery to the northeast (both 13th C.).
Koronissia - Church of the Virgin Mary
The Church of the Virgin Mary in Koronissia was built in the 11th 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.
Recent excavations at Amvrakia brought to light the theater of which the small orchestra and four rows of seats have been preserved, the foundations of the Doric temple of Pythian Apollo (fifth century B.C.), sections of the ancient walls, and the base of a sixth century B.C. monument.
Brioni - Church of the Virgin Mary
The Church of the Virgin Mary at Brioni, is located near the village of Neokhoraki. It dates to the 11th century and is known for its ceramics.
Plisii - Áyios Dimítrios Katsourís
At Plisii is the 11th Century St Dimítrios Katsourís Church.