History of Arta

Indications, dating back as far as the Palaeolithic Age in the prefecture of Arta, confirm the inhabitation of the region for a long time. The settlement that was found in the city of Arta is dated back in the 9 th century B.C. During the 8 th century B.C, the Corinthians colonized the Ionian Sea creating in the region of Arta a colony which would become the ancient city of Amvrakia in 625 B.C, leaded by Gorgos.

In contrast to Kerkyra, the next big colony in the area, Amvrakia remained loyal to its metropolis. During the Persian Wars, Amvrakia joined the Greeks in two very important battles won by the Greeks; the Battle of Salamis and the Battle Plataea, where they contributed seven ships and 500 soldiers respectively. In the years to come, Amvrakia remained loyal to Korinthos, supporting it against Kerkyra and participating in the Peloponnesian War and grew the confidence to extend its borders to the neighbouring region of Akarnania.

During the golden age of the Macedonian Empire, Amvrakia managed to avoid the Macedonian occupation thanks to the family bonds between the royal families of the Molossians and Macedonians.

At the peak of its prosperity, Amvrakia was ruled by King Pyrrhus and was proclaimed capital of Epirus in 259 B.C. During that time, the city was privileged with great monuments, worthy of a Greek capital city. The tragic death of Pyrrhus was the beginning of the end for the Molossian dynasty which ended with the murder of Queen Deidamia in 232 B.C, the last queen to rule Amvrakia. Since then, democracy was installed in Amvrakia.

As the years passed by, the Roman influence was becoming stronger in the Greek regions. In 89 B.C Amvrakia was under attack by the Romans and eventually forced to sign a treaty. In the years to follow, the western part of Greece had become the base for military action by the Romans. Octavian fought Antonius and Cleopatra in Aktio in 29 B.C and established the city of Nikopolis in the area which is known today as Preveza. The people of Amvrakia were forced to settle in the newly-established city, taking with them many construction materials from the monuments of Amvrakia. At the same time, many of the treasures of Amvrakia were transferred in Rome, resulting in the decay of the city.

For the next 10 centuries there are no reports for Amvrakia and the city was as if it never existed, although the region was still inhabited and was one of the most fertile regions in Epirus. This is probably why it was named Arta!

Epirus and Arta were revitalised when the Byzantine Kings Aggeloi Komninoi Doukes were settled in Arta after the 1204 crusades in Constantinople. The Castle of Arta, which was built to fortify the defence of the city, Byzantine Temples and Monasteries are some of the constructions of the time that still create a sense of awe in all the visitors of Arta.

At the dusk of the Byzantine Empire the region was at the epicentre of battles and fights. Until 1449 A.C and the Turkish Occupation, Arta was occupied in turns by Orsins, Serbians, Albanians and Carlo Tocco. The city was also burned in a devastating fire, followed by an equally devastating flood.

The end of the Greek Revolution in 1821 signalled the failure of the Greeks to include Arta within the borders of the newly born Greek country, although the borders were up to Amvrakikos bay. The movements in the area of Tzoumerka Mt. failed and the revolted Greeks were defeated in the Battle of Peta with staggering losses for the Greek and foreign troops who were volunteered.

Indicative of the urge for freedom shown by the people of Arta is the fact that one of the founding members of Filiki Etairia, Nikolaos Skoufas is from Arta. Additionally, General Makriyannis and the father of the Greek Revolution Georgios Karaiskakis have also roots connecting them with the city of Arta. Arta became finally part of Greece, along with Thessaly, according to the Berlin Convention in 1881.

This urge for freedom was the reference point that made the mountain areas of Arta one of the birthplaces of the Greek Resistance during World War II against the German-Italian occupation. A spirit that remained integral even after the holocausts that took place in Kommeno and Kompoti.