3 days in Arta

3 days in Arta

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First day in Arta

First day in Arta

Very close to the legendary bridge is the Archeological Museum of Arta.It was built in 2006 and its permanent exhibition includes three big units: the public life, cemeteries and the private life of the inhabitants of Amvracia. Most of the exhibits belong to the Hellenistic times, a period that happens to be the economical and political peak of the city, as then it was the capital of the State of Epirus.

The Archaeological Museum of Arta is where culture and history combine with modern displays of the region’s “treasures.” It will surely satisfy even the most demanding visitors.

Arta is a city you can easily explore on foot, allowing you to admire its 2,700 years of history up close. For those who choose to spend a day in our city, we suggest the “Cultural Route.”

Begin with the Sacred Way and the Western Cemetery of Amvracia, the most significant of the ancient city’s cemeteries. It was built along a road that led from the city’s south gate to Amvracos, the harbor of Amvracia, 20 km away in the Amvracian Gulf.

The Sacred Way, 12 meters wide, was cobblestone-covered and flanked by monumental tombs. A public cenotaph here features the first reference to the city’s name, “Anprakia.”

Next, visit the Byzantine Church of Panagia Parigoritissa (Saint Mary of Consolation). Built between 1285-1289, its impressive size includes a dome with a 7-meter diameter and sides over 20 meters wide and tall. The main dome’s unique support system creates the illusion of floating in the air. According to legend, the master builder and his assistant fell from the roof, turning into two stones behind the church. Saint Mary appeared to console the assistant’s mother, hence the church’s name.

Our next stop is the Ancient Theatre of Amvrakia. During King Pyrrhus’s time, Amvracia had two theatres, with the small theatre being the smallest of all ancient Greek theatres. Built at the end of the 4th century B.C., it was used until the mid-2nd century B.C.

Continuing to the main walking boulevard, Skoufa Street, you’ll find the heart of the city. A coffee break or shopping here will rejuvenate you. This area also boasts a vibrant nightlife.

For the romantics, admire the wonderful mansions and neoclassical houses with exquisite architecture that transport you to another era!

A few streets away, you’ll find the Byzantine Church of Agia Theodora, the city’s patron saint. Built in the 11th century, it became a convent where Queen Theodora lived as a nun. The church houses two silver coffins with the relics of Agia Theodora and a 17th-century icon. The saint is celebrated on March 11th with ceremonies attended by bishops, politicians, and philharmonic orchestras from all over Greece.

Nearby, discover another Byzantine masterpiece, Agios Vasilios of Agora (“Saint Basil of the Market”). Built in the late 13th century, it was home to the Manolaki School from 1662 to 1821. Although overshadowed by other Byzantine treasures, it remains a significant monument in the hearts of the city’s people.

In this part of the city, explore the remnants of the once-flourishing Jewish Quarter and the Synagogue, and visit the Holocaust Monument in the Square of the Jewish Martyrs.

Next, visit the Castle of Arta and the Clock Tower. Built on the ruins of Amvracia’s ancient fortress, the castle showcases Byzantine architecture with later additions. Inside is the Akropolis/citadel, a refuge for the besieged. Makriyiannis was imprisoned here during the 1821 Revolution against the Ottoman Empire. Today, the castle hosts cultural events during summer.

Around the Castle of Arta, stroll through Souliou, Gorgou, Komnenon, and Nikiforou Angelou streets for a trip to the city’s most picturesque areas.

The 21-meter-tall Clock Tower, built between 1630-1650 A.D., is the oldest clock in Epirus and one of Greece’s oldest. Ottoman explorer Evliya Celebi noted its 24-hour rotation and a bell audible from an hour’s distance. The clock signified the city’s high economic status, as building and maintaining a clock tower was costly.

After a full day, relax in one of the traditional ouzeries or tsipouradikos. Enjoy local tsipouro made from the “zambela” grape variety, along with delicious meze or other local foods. Don’t miss out on Arta’s famous products like oranges, kiwis, spoon sweets, and excellent cheeses, canned goods, eel, and caviar.

In the evening, unwind or enjoy Arta’s nightlife. Whether you choose a drink in the picturesque squares or near the historical bridge, you’ll have a great time and create lasting memories.

Second day in Arta

Second day in Arta

A first choice would be to visit the Monastery of Kato Panagia, which is not far from the center of the town. It is dedicated to the birth of Saint Mary and it was built upon the order of the Governor of the region – Michael II Komnenos Doukas. Today it is a well preserved convent and the beauty of its interior can hardly be described in words.

Begin your day with a trip to the scenic hills of Arta and the picturesque Amvrakikos Gulf. Renowned for its natural beauty and historical significance, the Hills of Arta played a pivotal role in the region’s development. Notably, during the Ottoman era, it belonged to Valide Sultan, the Sultan’s mother, and was known as “the sweet field.”

En route to the Amvracian Gulf, discover charming villages adorned with vibrant churches and monuments nestled amidst nature. For a unique experience, take the coastal country road from Vigla to Strongili, alongside the lagoon, where you can explore Panagia Rodias and the Hermitage of Agios Vlasios of Sevastia. With luck, you may even spot water buffaloes, a rare species surviving in the Rodia lagoon.

For those with energy to spare, visit the Roman Court and the oil mill in Strongili, showcasing ancient millstones unearthed through archaeological excavations.

Considering extending your stay in Arta? It’s well worth it! Spend your day exploring the nearby countryside rather than staying in the city.

Continue your journey with a visit to Koronisia, a picturesque village recently connected to the mainland. Experience crossing the narrow strip of land between the Amvracian Gulf and a lagoon dotted with traditional fishing “ivaria.” Here, indulge in fresh seafood at local tavernas, including famous prawns and sardines.

Koronisia is renowned for kite and windsurf competitions and offers opportunities for sea kayaking to explore hidden gems of the Amvracian Gulf. Climb the hill to Panagia Koronisia, an ancient Byzantine church dating back to the 10th century AD, near Koulia, a small castle reminiscent of Lascara Fortress in Preveza.

Witness one of the most beautiful sunsets at Koronisia, gazing over the serene waters of the Amvracian Gulf, a significant European wetland ideal for birdwatching.

Return to Arta city rejuvenated after a fulfilling day. Unwind at the lakeside park of Arta, a versatile venue for cultural events and a favorite spot among locals for leisurely strolls, coffee breaks, and relaxation.

Alternatively, just 5 km from the city lies Chanopoulo village, home to the Chanopoulo Baths. Relax in the therapeutic waters of this natural spa, renowned for its healing properties akin to those found abroad. Delight in the village’s rich history and warm hospitality.

A short detour reveals the oldest Ottoman architectural gem in Epirus – the Faik Pasha Mosque. Once part of a charitable complex called Imaret, which included a madrassa, hammam, poorhouse, and inn, this mosque offers a glimpse into the region’s historical depth.

Third day in Arta

Third day in Arta

The trip begins from the picturesque village of Vlaherna, built on the hill opposite the town of Arta.The Byzantine Church of Panagia Vlaherna, built in the 10th century, is of particular interest, and so are the two tombs inside. Elements of their decoration – such as the two headed eagle, the symbol of the Despotate of Epirus – suggest that the two sons of Despot Michael the II and of Queen Theodora are buried here.

Vlaherna today boasts traditional cafes and tavernas offering delicious cuisine. Alternatively, a few kilometers away lies Peta village, known for its significance during the Greek Revolution of 1821. This vibrant area is perfect for relaxation while enjoying views of Arta city.

We recommend continuing your journey to the scenic villages of Arta and Tzoumerka. For a detour, explore the ancient Orraon, dating back to the 4th century BC, known for its impressive acropolis of Molossians. Notably, the remarkably preserved structures of Orraon, particularly “House 1” with walls standing at 5-7 meters high, are rare in Greece for that period.

A short distance away, marvel at the Roman aqueduct amidst a scenery reminiscent of a Hollywood production. This ancient superstructure, spanning 50 kilometers, once supplied water to ancient Nikopolis. Scholars estimate it took the Romans over 30 years to complete this monumental feat.

For your third day in Arta, explore the mountain villages in the region.

Returning to the hilly villages of Arta, including Pistiana, Rodavgi, Skoupa, Paleochori, Dafnoti, immerse yourself in their charm, untouched by mass tourism. These villages are renowned for their warm hospitality, offering an ideal setting for romantic getaways. Don’t miss Faneromeni village, just before Rodavgi, which offers breathtaking views of Lake Pournari, the Amvrakian Gulf, and Tzoumerka mountains.

Rodavgi stands out as the most popular village, celebrated for its stone-built church Agia Paraskevi, vibrant square, and cultural events in summer, including the Chestnut and Tsipouro Festival in autumn. As you ascend, you’ll enter the renowned Tzoumerka region, famous for its scenic villages such as Agnanda, Ktistades, Kataraktis, Pramanda, Melissourgi, and Tsopela. The lush landscapes of rivers, lakes, and mountains create a setting worthy of the world’s best filmmakers.

Another recommended route starts from Arta, leading to Peta and exploring the eastern Tzoumerka region. Visit Kipseli, Vourgareli with its famous Red Church, and Theodorianna, perched at 1000 meters altitude with numerous water sources, a unique feature in Greece. Alternatively, journey towards Skoulikaria, birthplace of Giorgos Karaiskakis, then to Kalentini and Piges villages, where you can visit monasteries like Rovelista, Seltsou, and Megalochari. This route also leads to the historic Valley of Acheloos River, witness to the Revolution of Radovizians.

Extra tips for travel escape

Extra tips for travel escape

The list of possible routes could be really long as Epirus is so unique that no matter how many times one may have come here, it always feels like the first time.

Considering the strategic location of Arta, we recommend day trips to the serene beaches of the Ionian Sea in Parga, or exploring other major cities in Epirus. You might also enjoy a visit to the mystical Acheron River and Nekromanteion. Here are some other notable sights to explore:

  • Peranthi Hill
  • The artificial lake and dam of Pournari, the second tallest in Greece at 107 meters
  • Ziros Lake and the nearby hills of red clay
  • The historic martyr village of Kommeno
  • The port of Kopraina with its impressive lighthouse
  • Xirovouni Mountain, offering beautiful trails and various alternative activities
  • Byzantine monuments and archaeological sites such as the Temple of Apollo, the Covent of Pantanassa, Saint Dimitrios of Katsouris, Saint Paraskevi of the Dragon, Saint Vasileios of the Bridge, and the Faik Pasha Mosque
  • Cultural sites including the Public Art Gallery “Giannis Moralis,” the Information Center of Salaora, the Information Center of Ziros Lake, as well as museums and the library affiliated with the “Skoufas” Association
  • Last but not least, the enchanting beaches of the Amvracian Gulf!

Combine these with the hospitality of the locals, diverse activities available throughout the area, and culinary delights waiting to be discovered! Arta and Epirus offer more than just historical landmarks; they provide enriching experiences in nature and community, inviting you to step away from daily routines and discover what truly matters in life.

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