Welcome to the prefecture of Arta, the former capital of Epirus during the Hellenistic period as well as the Byzantine times. Excellent examples of Byzantine architecture in bridges, churches, monasteries, along with archaeological sites, surrounded by lush forests and dense vegetation to reach all the way up to the mountains, forming rivers, valleys, canyons and wetlands, washed by the Amvrakian Gulf full of wonderful beaches, are the various elements to make Arta an ideal destination.
Visit the capital city Arta built at the banks of the Arachthos river to admire its magnificent legendary bridge, the castle and the Byzantine churches and feel the local way of living. Traditional villages across the mountains in Tzoumerka such as Kataraktis or Voulgareli well worth a visit, is also an opportunity to explore the natural treasures of the area. The region offers visitors all of the modern comforts and facilities of a modern city, yet the stunning landscape is one of a beautiful and natural environment.
Despite the fact that the prefecture of Arta is one of the least affluent regions of Greece, largely untouched by tourism, being its comparative advantage, is a very hospitable destination. The natural beauty and the slow paced lifestyle have added to the development of alternative and recreational tourism, with most of the hotels and pensions offering the chance to outdoor activities and sports.
The prefecture of Arta situated in the southern part of Epirus, can only by accessed by road as the nearest airport is the one of Preveza. The national bus services offer daily connection of the capital city with the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki, while there is an extensive network of bus services within the region. Those who wish to explore the beauties of the Artan countryside, car rental is highly recommended.
The City of Arta, built on the remains of ancient Amvrakia was the capital city of Epirus during the Hellenistic as well as the Byzantine era nowadays is a modern city, studded with archaeological sites, several Byzantine monuments with Skoufa Square being the place where the heart of the city beats, full of life, with charming pedestrian zones and modern shopping centres. The castle of the city, the famous arched stone bridge, the centuries old Plane Tree of Ali Pasha, the Byzantine churches, the green-blue water of Arahthos river and the wild forestlands with orange and olive groves surrounding Arta, create a unique and impressive environment. A visit at the area of Tzoumerka at the slopes of Athamanika mountains is an excellent choice, as the traditional villages of Kataraktis, Voulgareli and Agnanda and the historic hamlet of Komeno.
SIGHTSEEING & MONUMENTS
As Arta was inhabited since the 7th century B.C. and occupied by several conquerors, the area reveals monuments to underpin its history. The most distinctive site of the prefecture is the legendary stone Bridge of Arta. Initially built by the Romans to get its final shape in 1602 by the Ottomans, other than an architectural masterpiece with its beautiful arches spanning across the Arachthos river, the bridge is also widely known for the legendary story related to its construction. According to the myth, its construction had been an impossible feat for several years as the daily works were collapsing during the night. A bird gave a message that only after sacrificing a human being, the bridge would manage to stand, this person being the wife of the bridge's engineer who was actually buried alive at its foundations. A stroll around the city is ideal for the exploration of remnants of ancient walls, a small Amvrakian Theater, the Temple of Apollo and a cemetery. One of the most astonishing sites and well preserved is the Castle of Arta build during the 13th century on the ruins of the ancient Amvrakia walls that nowadays hosts summer events. Later on the same period, the Byzantine Church of Pareforetissa was built to feature an excellent example of architecture with an almost square three-storey building. The dinning room of the church hosts the Archaeological Museum of Arta, exhibiting Paleolithic, Hellenistic and Roman collections to illustrate the economical and civil growth of the ancient city of Ambracia, the capital of ancient Epirus. Finally the Church of Saint Theodora, built by the homonymous Despotate who lived there as a nun is another example of fine Byzantine arichitecture, same as numerous other churches monasteries such as Monastery of Kato Panagia, Panagia Vlaherna and many others. The city of Arta also houses several monuments from the Roman and Ottoman era, among which the originally cyclopean walls further supported during the Byzantine period, being the most distinctive. A couple of folkloric museums also reveal the local traditions and life style.
THINGS TO DO
The prefecture of Arta is a unique combination of both lush mountains and blue seas, both of equal natural beauty. However, as the mainland dominates the area, several activities within the green forests and the rivers of the area are available. Arachthos river is ideal for rafting while the canyons and waterfalls offer for canyoning lovers and the protected wetlands around Salaora and Koronisia are a hot destination for bird watchers. Mountains are often visited by climbers and mountain bikers, as well as horse riders, often practicing their archery skills. When reaching Arta as a summer holiday destination, swimming opts are available mainly around the area of Koronisia along Amvrakikos Bay next to the lagoons and the natural water parks of Salaora with several shallow, sandy and warm beaches, full of sea shells. Those who enjoy chilling waters have the option of having a dip at the local waterfalls, close to the traditional village Katafaktes. Finally Arta provides easy access to the Ionian islands, thus ideal destination for island hopping.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Arta Bus Services: +30 26810 27348
Arta Police: +30 26810 21450
Arta Tourist Police: +30 26810 77010
Arta Hospital: +30 26810 22222