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A historical journey to Orraon, the fortified city of the Molossians

Orraon, the historic fortified city of the Molossians, overlooks Arta and the Ambracian Gulf from the slopes of Xerovouni.

On the slopes of Xerovouni, where nature merges with history, rises the hill “Kastri,” hosting the ruins of the small but historic fortified city of Orraon, near the modern settlement of the same name.

The village Ammotopos in the background

The excavation of this ancient treasure took place between 1976 and 1978 near the village of Ammotopos in Arta, revealing an entire town that spans approximately 55 acres, surrounded by an impressive wall nearly one kilometer long.

Orraon was founded by the Molossians, an ancient tribe that inhabited central Epirus, around the middle of the 4th century BC. Settled in a strategic location, Orraon offered an unobstructed view of the plain of Arta and the Ambracian Gulf, a landscape that still takes the breath away today.

The Roman historian Livios mentions that it was one of the four cities of Epirus that were destroyed by the Romans when they attempted to resist their power. Nevertheless, the settlement continued to exist until the founding of Nicopolis by Octavian Augustus in 31 BC, where the inhabitants were forced to relocate.

During the 4th century BC, as part of the urbanization of Epirus, a series of fortified residential units were developed in strategic locations. Orraon was connected to a series of acropolises that guarded the main passage leading from the Ambracian Gulf to the plain of Ioannina, which was the area of the Molossians. Thus, Orraon was protected on three sides by strong fortification, except for the south, which was inaccessible due to the steep slopes of the hill.

Despite its small size, the settlement followed the urban planning of a large city, having Ambracia as a model. With its geometric organization, the settlement had parallel streets intersecting with perpendicular ones, creating rectangular building blocks. Each block hosted a house, while the free public space was where citizens gathered. Outside the settlement was the cemetery, and among the most impressive public works was the rainwater collection tank, with a capacity of about 180 cubic meters, constructed from limestone boulders and coated with hydraulic plaster to waterproof it.

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