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History of the Castle of Arta

The Castle of Arta, which is located on a low hill on the north side of the city, is an important landmark of the region. The site’s strategic importance had been noted already from antiquity. The Corinthian colonists, who founded the ancient city of Amvrakia, had erected city’s fortification on the foot of the same hill on which the Castle stands. Parts of the ancient defensive wall had been incorporated in the medieval Castle’s structure and can be seen until today in its east and north sectors.

The first formation of a fortress in the Middle Ages dates in the mid- Byzantine era, however, after the fall of Constantinople in 1204 AD, the city of Arta gained a prominent significance, as Michael Komnenos Doukas (1170-1215) fled to it and made it the center of his actions in order to intercept the spread of the crusading states. The result was the formation of an independent state, which played a major role in the events of the Balkan Peninsula until the middle of the 15th century. It is believed that the Castle’s current general form is a result of the works carried out by Michael II Komnenos Doukas (1206-1268), when the fortress was repaired and upgraded. During the next two centuries, many dramatic events took place in the Castle: sieges, uprisings, dynastic disputes, and conspiracies. The Castle was submitted to various rulers, to the Latin counts of Kefallinia, to Serbs and Albanians local rulers, until it was finally surrendered by treaty to the Ottomans in 1449.

During the late Ottoman period, the Castle was partially modernized by Ali Pasha and then it was besieged closely during the Greek Revolution of 1821 without being occupied. After the liberation of the area, the Castle came under the jurisdiction of the Greek Army until the early 1960s, when the Xenia Hotel was built within its walls.

Today, the Castle is open to the public, as an archaeological site, a living part of the city and as a valued monument of Arta’s historical course.

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