Ambracian Gulf

The Ambracian Gulf, also known as the Gulf of Arta or the Gulf of Actium, and in some official documents as the Amvrakikos Gulf ( _el. Αμβρακικός κόλπος), is a gulf of the Ionian Sea in northwestern Greece. About 40 km long and 15 km wide, it is one of the largest enclosed gulfs in Greece. The towns of Preveza, Amphilochia (formerly Karvassaras), and Vonitsa lie on its shores.

The entrance to the gulf is through a 700-meter wide channel between Aktio (ancient Actium) on the south and Preveza on the north; a recent road tunnel connects the two. The gulf is quite shallow, and its shore is broken by numerous marshes, large parts of which form an estuary system. The Louros and Arachthos (or Arta) rivers drain into it; for this reason it is warmer and less salty than the Ionian, and a current flows from the gulf into the sea. It is rich in grey mullet, sole, and eel.

The gulf takes its name from the ancient city of Ambracia located near its shores. Its alternate name comes from the medieval (and modern) city of Arta, located in the same place as ancient Ambracia.

From Greek independence (Treaty of Constantinople, 1832) until the Second Balkan War (Treaty of Bucharest, 1913), the Gulf formed part of the border between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire.

The remains of numerous ancient cities lie on its shores: Actium at the entrance, where the famous Battle of Actium was fought in 31 B.C.; Nicopolis, Argos Ippatum, Limnaea, and Olpae.


*James Wolfe, "Observations on the Gulf of Arta, Made in 1830" "Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London" 3:77-94 (1833) [ at JSTOR]

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