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Arta

Arta, the second largest town in Ipiros, is 360 km from Athens. The town is known for its famous stone bridge, the largest and oldest in Greece and for the numerous Byzantine monuments in and around the town. The Arta Bridge is on the outskirts of the town and spans the River Arahthos. Inside the town stands the large church of Panagia Parigoritissa (built in the 13th century), unique in style throughout Greece because it contains several elements of Western architecture in its interior and has a peculiar system of supports for its dome. Nowadays the church is used as a museum exhibiting finds belonging to various periods.

The town's ancient theatre and its fortress have also survived. Other churches belonging to Byzantine times, sited in the town of Arta, are those of Agion Theodoron which contains very attractive capitals and Agios Vasilios with excellent ceramic exterior decoration. At small distances in the surroundings of Arta, there is the Monastery of Kato Panagia, the Monastery of Vlachairnon and the churches of Agios Demetrios Katsoulis and Panagia Rodia, all belonging to the period when Ipiros was under Despotic rule (13th century).

With Arta as a point of departure, it is worth taking the road which follows the banks of the Arahthos River and goes through the villages of Rodavgi and Dafnoti to a spot known as Plaka where is a graceful, old stone bridge and from where the road leads on to Agnanda (58 kms from Arta) and thence to Pramanda (70 kms from Arta). Both are head villages or townships built in the large meadow surrounded by the tall peaks of the Southern Pindus range.

At a distance of 5 kms from Pramanda, there is the Anemotripa Pramandon cave. In the surrounding mountain area there are numerous villages to visit which retain B traditional characteristics, such as Mahouki, Melissourgi and others. Taking another road out of Arta one can drive to Skoulikaria (50 kms). Nearby stands the Monastery of Kimissis Theotokou originally an 11th century building which was burnt down during Greece's War of Independence in 1821 and was rebuilt in 1854.

A small distance short of Skoulikaria, near the village of Velentziko (45 kms) stands the Monastery of Rovelista, a prominent monastery during the centuries of Ottoman rule.

>> Epirus : Arta, Ioannina, Preveza, Thesprotia.


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