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Situated at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf, Preveza is linked to Epirus and the rest of the mainland by Greece’s first undersea tunnel. When you exit the tunnel, the city greets you with a smile. Sandwiched between two bodies of water, the Ionian Sea and the Ambracian Gulf, Preveza will charm you with its lovely jetty, yacht-filled marina, dozens of restaurants and meze-bars, pedestrianised centre and stylish shops. Just outside town, you’ll encounter Augustus, Antony and Cleopatra at ancient Nikopolis. And after that, there are some 60km of beaches to explore, from Preveza all the way to Parga.
Preveza will make you think you’ve reached an island, particularly if you arrive by boat. Buy an ear of grilled corn from a sidewalk vendor and walk along the seaside esplanade where cafes and restaurants are sandwiched between neoclassical buildings. In the pedestrianised centre, you’ll come across surprises at every corner: bookshops, belle epoque teahouses, outdoor tables overflowing with tasty titbits, cosy bars, restaurants and avant-garde photoshops.
Among the many sights in Preveza are the Seïtan Bazaar, Archaeological Museum; the clock tower and its sun dial; the church of Agios Haralambos with its carved wooden iconostasis, and the religious paintings from 1780 in the church of Agios Athanasios and Pantokrator Castle, built in 1807 by Ali Pasha to control the straits.
Octavian, later to become Augustus, won a decisive victory against the combined forces of Antony and Cleopatra at the naval battle at nearby Actium in 31 BC and he founded Nikopolis (victory city) to commemorate his triumph. Much later, the emperor Justinian strengthened the fortifications, the reason the walls are still standing today. In this huge archaeological site, you’ll come across the remains of 5th and 6th century basilicas, among much else. And don’t miss the Archaeological Museum of Preveza for major finds from the city’s long history.
Sixty kilometres of sandy beaches and fine swimming await you from Preveza to Parga: Loutsa, Valtos, Lychnos, Ammouthia, Lygia, Kastrosykia…the list goes on. Some are secluded and practically untouched, some organised with busy beach bars.
Kostas Karyotakis, Greece’s ‘poet of sadness’, took his own life in Preveza in 1928. His house is on Dardanelion Street and his bust is in the square of the same name.
Listed as a wetland of international importance and protected under the Ramsar Treaty, the Ambracian Gulf attracts about 280 species of birds in its seven main lagoons.
One of antiquity’s most important naval battles occurred at Actium (Aktio today), on the south side of the entrance to the gulf, opposite Preveza. Octavian’s victory made him emperor Augustus of Rome and the most powerful man in the known world.
Preveza is heaven for seafood lovers: Grilled sardines and shrimps are typical delicious local fare but it is the preserved roe of the grey mullet that takes pride of place. Called the caviar of the Ambracian Gulf by the locals, the roe is salted, dried and coated with beeswax. It is then usually sliced thinly and served with crusty bread and ouzo.