Arta is the capital city of the prefecture in Epiros. The population is about 20,000. Famous for its oranges. In Antiquity, it was called Ambracia, which was founded by the Corinthians in the second half of the 7th century. In the Hellnistic period, it was the capital of King Pyrrhos's kingdom of Epiros (in the photo right is his bronze statue in a square of Arta). In the 2nd century A.D., when Pausanias payed his visit, it was already in ruin. There are remains of temples and a theatre.
The site is strategically advantageous as surrounded by the Arakthos river by three sides and there is a hill the centre (as you see below).
The site regained its importance during the Byzantine period (see below). After the fall of Consantinople, Michail I Angelos founded the Despotate of Arta with the recognistion of the emperor Alexios III in exile. In 1449, it was conquered by the Ottomans, who then handed it to the Venetians. Ali Pascha of Ioannina held it under his sway for one period, but it was returned to the Ottoman's rule from 1822 and 1912.
In Arta, there are some important Byzantine churches like Aghia Theodora (constructed in 13th century), Aghios Vasilios (constructed in the 14th century), but the most important is the huge metropolitan church of Panaghia Parigoritissa (late 13th century).