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Acheron river canyon.

The Despotate of Epirus (left, in red) c.1204.

Preveza and other Venetian possessions of the Ionian Sea.

The Battle of Actium, by Lorenzo A.Castro (1672), Oil Paint in National Maritime Museum of Greenwich, London (Director's Office).[1]

The Battle of Preveza (1538) by Ohannes Umed Behzad, painted in 1866.

Preveza (Greek: Πρέβεζα) is a town in the region of Epirus, northwestern Greece, located at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf. It is the capital of the regional unit of Preveza, which is part of the region of Epirus. The Aktio-Preveza Immersed Tunnel, the first and so far only undersea tunnel in Greece, was completed in 2002 and connects Preveza to Aktio in western Acarnania in the region of Aetolia-Acarnania. The ruins of the ancient city of Nicopolis lie 7 kilometres (4 miles) north of the city.

The Name "Preveza"

The name Preveza is of uncertain etymology. There are three versions about the origin of word Πρέβεζα:

  1. It might come from the old Slavic word perevoz meaning "crossing, passage" (Diogenes Charitonos and Fyodor Uspeski)[2] or
  2. from the old Albanian word prevëzë-za, that means transportation (Petros Fourikis and Konstantinos Amantos),[2] or
  3. from the Latin word prevesione, that means sustenance (victuals) (Max Vasmer, Peter Schustall, Johannes Conter),[1][3]


The present municipality Preveza was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, that became municipal units (constituent communities in brackets):[4]

  • Louros (Ano Rachi, Kotsanopoulo, Louros, Neo Sfinoto, Oropos, Revmatia, Skiadas, Stefani, Trikastro, Vrysoula)
  • Preveza (Flampoura, Michalitsi, Mytikas, Nicopolis, Preveza)
  • Zalongo (Cheimadio, Ekklissies, Kamarina, Kanali, Kryopigi, Myrsini, Nea Sampsounta, Nea Sinopi, Riza, Vrachos)

History of Preveza


In antiquity, the area of Preveza was inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Cassopeans, part of larger tribe of the Thesprotians. Their capital city was Cassope (near today's village of Kamarina). Near the site of modern Preveza in 290 BC King Pyrrhus of Epirus founded the town of Berenikea or Berenike, named after his mother-in-law Berenice I of Egypt.,[5][6] Today it is believed that Berenikea lies on the hills of the village of Michalitsi village, following the excavations of Sotirios Dakaris in 1965 (The Leo of Michalitsi, etc.). The Ambracian Gulf near Berenikea was the site of the naval Battle of Actium, on 2 September 31 BC, in which Octavian's (later Augustus) forces defeated those of Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Ancient Nicopolis (Νικόπολις, "Victory City") was built nearby by Augustus to commemorate his victory,[7] and today it is believed that at its peak it had a total population of 150,000.[8] In 90 AC, after a law of Emperor Diocletian, arrived in Preveza the philosopher Epictetus and established a school of philosophy. One from his students, Arrian became famous historian and wrote all books of Epictetus.[1]

Medieval period

Nicopolis continued under Roman and later Byzantine rule, experiencing brief periods of Bulgarian rule in the 10th century (920–922, 977–983, 996–997). According to one theory, modern Preveza grew around a military outpost built in the 9th century by the Bulgarians, following their conquest of Nicopolis.[9] The city was first attested in the Chronicle of Morea (1292).[10] However, Hammond places the foundation of Preveza much later, at the end of 14th century, possibly by Albanians.[11] After 1204, it came under the Despotate of Epirus (1204–1230, 1241–1338, 1356–1358), the Second Bulgarian Empire (1230–1241), the Serbian Empire (1348–1356), and the Despotate of Arta (1358–1401). It then came under Venetian rule until captured by the Ottomans.

First Ottoman Period

The Ottomans refounded Preveza probably in 1477, with a subsequent strengthening of the fortifications in 1495.[12] The naval Battle of Preveza was fought off the shores of Preveza in 29 September 1538, where the Ottoman fleet of Hayreddin Barbarossa defeated a united Christian fleet under the Genoese captain Andrea Doria. This day is a Turkish Navy National Holiday, and some of today Turkish submarines called "Preveze".

Venetian intervention

Preveza was hotly contested in several Ottoman-Venetian Wars. In September 1684, at the early part of the Morean War, the Venetians, aided by Greek irregulars, crossed from the island of Lefkada (Santa Maura) and captured Preveza as well as Vonitsa, which gave them control of Acarnania - an important morale booster towards the main campaign in the Morea.[13] However, at the end of the war in 1699 Preveza was handed back to Ottoman rule. Venice captured Preveza again in 1717, during its next war with the Ottomans and was this time able to hold on to the town and fort it - a meager achievement in a war which otherwise went very badly for the Republic. Venetian rule would persist until the very end of the Venetian Republicitself in 1797. During this period, in 1779, the Orthodox missionary Kosmas visited Preveza where it is said he founded a Greek school, which would be the only school of the city during the 18th century.[14] At the end of the 18th century, Preveza became a transit center of trade with western Europe (particularly France), which resulted in the increase of its population to approximately 10,000–12,000.[15]

Year of French Revolutionary rule, Ali Pasha's conquest and massacre-Second Ottoman Period

Following the Treaty of Campo Formio, where Napoleon Bonaparte decreed the final dissolution of the Venetian Republic, Preveza – like other Venetian possessions in Greece and Albania – was ceded to Revolutionary France. 280 French grenadiers arrived in Preveza under the commands of General La Salchette. The people of Preveza welcomed the French troops as friendly, as can be seen in the letters of the period, when they wrote "ΠΕΑ" ("Πρώτο Ετος Απελευθέρωσης", "First Year of Liberation")[16] and formed a pro-French civic militia. Around this same time the poet Rigas Feraios was combining support for the ideas of the French Revolution with calls for a Greek uprising against Ottoman rule. He was intercepted and killed by the Ottoman authorities when en route to meet Napoleon and directly ask for his help for the Greek cause. Napoleon Bonaparte, however, focused his attention in another direction, launching the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria, placing France at war with the Ottoman Empire and giving little thought to the fate of the small Preveza garrison exposed on the edge of Ottoman territory. In October 1798, the local Ottoman governor Ali Pasha Tepelena – having great ambitions to make himself a semi-independent ruler – attacked Preveza with an overwhelming force. In the Battle of Nicopolis on 12 October 1798[1] the 7,000 Turkish and Albanian troops of Ali Pasha and his son Mukhtar completely overwhelmed the 280 French grenadiers and their local allies, the 200 Preveza Civil Guards and 60 Souliote warriors under Captain Christakis. Over the next two days, 13–14 October 1798, a major massacre of the French troops and the local Greek population which defended the city took place in Preveza and Port Salaora, on the Ambracian Gulf, starting before Ali Pasha entered Preveza on 13 October but also continuing in his presence.[17] The so-called "Destruction of Preveza" ("Χαλασμός της Πρέβεζας") is still remembered as a notorious event in Greek history (el:Χαλασμός της Πρέβεζας).[18] On 14 October, Ali Pasha called on those citizens of Preveza who had escaped to the Acarnanian Mountains to return to the city, and declared that they would be in no danger. However, upon their return, 170 of them were executed by the sword at the Salaora Port Customs.[18][19] Many prisoners who survived the massacre died from the hardships on the road to Ioannina. In the grand return and reception held for his victorious troops, which Ali Pasha organized at Ioannina, surviving Greek and French prisoners were given the unpleasant role of walking at the head of the procession, holding the cut and salted heads of their companions, under the shouts and jeers of Ioannina's Turkish and Albanian residents.[18] From Ioannina, nine captured French grenadiers, and two officers were sent chained to Istanbul for questioning. One of them, Captain Louis-Auguste Camus de Richemont, was later released, possibly mediated by the mother of Napoleon Bonaparte, Maria Letizia Bonaparte, and eventually became a general. Some popularly circulating tales, of doubtful historical authenticity, link this incident with the origins of the Spoonmaker's Diamond, one of the most closely guarded treasures of Istanbul's Topkapı Palace.[18] Though Preveza would remain under Ottoman rule for more than a century, this event – both the short period of Greek militias active in the city and the shock of the massacre that followed – and the influence of the ideas of the French Revolution had a part in the development of Greek nationalism towards the Greek War of Independence, which broke out three decades later.

Third Ottoman Period - 19th-century Ottoman rule

Battle of Nicopolis (1798)
Part of French Revolutionary Wars (specifically related to French Campaign in Egypt and Syria)
Date12 October 1798
LocationEnvirons of Preveza, near the ruins of Nicopolis
Result Decisive Ottoman victory (Preveza was captured by Ottomans)
France French Army
Preveza Greek Civil Guard
Ottoman Empire Ottoman troops, de facto serving Ali Pasha Tepelena as a semi-independent ruler
Commanders and leaders
France General La Salchette
Captain Christakis commanded the Souliote warriors
Ottoman Empire Ali Pasha Tepelena
Ottoman Empire Mukhtar Pasha
280 French Grenadiers
200 Preveza Civil Guards
60 Souliote warriors
7,000 Turkish and Albanian troops
Casualties and losses
Heavily decimated in battle and in the massacre which followed unknown
File:Decree signed by Ottoman Sultan.jpg

1892 decree signed by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II which documents possession of a state farm in Preveza passing to the Sultan's ownership

From 1798 to 1820, Preveza was under the rule of the semi-independent Ali Pasha Tepelena. Following his death in 1822 at Ioannina, Preveza was more directly controlled from Istanbul. Preveza became the seat of a province (the Sanjak of Preveze) in 1863, until the year 1912 when the city joined Greece.

Preveza, 19th century

In 1835, educational activity in the city revived with the foundation of a new Greek school, the Theophaneios, named after its sponsor, Anastassios Theophanis. In the following decades, this school became a centre of education in the surrounding area and in 1851 it also hosted a female and a secondary school.[20] In the later part of the 19th century, Preveza – like the whole of Epirus – became embroiled in the conflicting claims of Greek and Albanian nationalists. This came to a head which came to a head in the wake of the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878, when territorial changes in the hitherto Ottoman parts of the Balkans were put on the agenda. The 1878 Congress of Berlin was inclined to ignore the demands of the newborn Albanian nationalism – Germany's Otto von Bismarck even proclaimed that an Albanian nation did not exist. Greek nationalism was far longer established on the European scene, and according to the treaty of Berlin in 1878 Preveza was to be ceded by the Ottoman Empire to the Kingdom of Greece.

On the other hand, the Albanian League of Prizren strongly objected to the Greek positions[21] through its local branch, the Albanian Committee of Preveza.[22][23] Between 11 and 13 January 1879, 400 Albanian representatives – 200 Cham and Lab Albanian leaders joined on the last day by 200 Northern Albanians – gathered in Preveza to attend the "Assembly of Preveza" (Albanian language: Kuvendi i Prevezës) organised by the League of Prizren and its local committee.[24] The assembly resolved to create lobbying committees to prevent the Ottoman Empire from ceding Epirus (or Chameria, as Albanians named the region) to Greece.

The final demarcation of the border was to take place at Preveza, with delegates of Greece and the Ottoman Empire meeting at Preveza on 6 February 1879. Part of the population demonstrated, demanding that there be no such demarcation inside Epirus. On 28 February 1879, forty-nine delegates representing the Albanian population of the Ottoman Empire signed a petition in Preveza, with a threat to take arms to prevent an annexation of Preveza to Greece. In the event, Albanian protests prevailed and only Arta was ceded to Greece, leaving Preveza and the rest of Epirus under the Ottoman Empire for the time being.[25] Greek national ambitions were mollified by the Ottomans ceding Thessaly, in which Albanians had no interest. Greek claims to Preveza remained in force, however, and would come to the fore again in the Balkan Wars three decades later.

After the delineation of borders, the Ottoman Empire changed the governor of Preveza and appointed one from Gjirokastër, in order to deal with the spreading nationalist activities of the Albanian population of Preveza, led by Abdyl Frashëri.[26][verification needed] On the other hand the Greek organisation, Epirote Society, founded at 1906 by members of the Epirote diaspora, Panagiotis Danglis and Spyros Spyromilios, aimed at the annexation of the region to Greece.[27] by supplying local Greeks with firearms.[28]

Modern history of Preveza after Liberation of 1912

Siege of Preveza, 1912

The city of Preveza remained under Ottoman control until finally taken by the Greek Army on 21 October 1912, during the First Balkan War. The city was liberated after the Battle of Nicopolis, by the Greek Army forces under Colonel Papagiotis Speliades. A garrison of the 8th Infantry Division (Greece) was stationed in the city by December. Later on in the same war, on 8 February 1913, the inhabitants of Preveza were involved in the first instance in world history of a combat pilot being shot down in combat. The Russian pilot N. de Sackoff, flying for the Greeks, had his biplane hit by ground fire following a bomb run on the walls of Fort Bizani. He came down near Preveza, and with the help of local townspeople repaired his plane and resumed his flight back to base.[29] In the following months there arrived in Preveza the famous Swiss photographer Frederic Boissonnas, and a lot of photographs from this period are available today. Preveza along with the rest of southern Epirus formally became part of Greece via the Treaty of London in 1913.

Second World War

Along with the rest of Greece, Preveza was occupied by Italy (1941–1943) and Germany (1943–1944) during World War II. After the departure of the Wehrmacht from Preveza, in September 1944, an episode of the Greek Civil War known as the Combat of Preveza took place, lasting for 16 days, between armed forces of partizans of EDES (rights) and ELAS(lefts). The fights stopped after the Convention of Kazerta (Italy) between GB (Scoby)-EDES (Zervas)-ELAS (Sarafis).

Modern period

The port.

Today Preveza is a commercial harbour and tourist hub, with a marina, 4 Museums, two cinemas, an open theatre, a music Hall (OASIS), many clubs, taverns and cafes, benefiting from its proximity to the nearby Aktion National Airport and the nearby island of Lefkada, a major tourist destination. There are in the city University of Financial (TEI) and Commercial Navy Academy. The Aktio-Preveza Immersed Tunnel, opened on 2002, is an important work of infrastructure for what has traditionally been a remote and underdeveloped region, and links Preveza to Actium (Greek: Άκτιο, Aktio) on the southern shore of the Ambracian Gulf, greatly shortening the distance of the trip to Lefkada.

Notable sights in Preveza

Mosaic from the Roman Villa of Manius Antoninus, Nicopolis.


The clock tower of the city.

View of the promenade.

  • Ancient Nicopolis area (Walls, Basilica of Alkisson, Basilica of Domitius, Roman Odeon, Nympheum, Roman Baths, Cemetery, Theatre, Augustus Monument, Roman Stadium, Roman Villa of Manius Antoninus etc.)
  • Ancient Cassope (400 BC), 25 km (16 mi) from Preveza
  • Ancient Trikastron citadel (700 – 300BC), 30 km (19 mi) from Preveza
  • Ancient Berenikea, Michalitsi village hills (270 BC).
  • State Archaeological Museum of Nikopolis
  • Private Museum of Arts and Sciences of Epirus of Dr. Harry Gouvas
  • St. Charalampos Church (1715–1793)
  • St. Varnavas Church
  • St. Abassos Church
  • Forest of Lekatsas, in Myrsini village
  • Fortress of Laskara, Ali Pasha period (1810)
  • Fortress of Pantokrator, Ali Pasha period (1810)
  • Fortress of St. Andreas, Venetian (1701–1717) and Ottoman period (1810)
  • Fortress of St. George (1718)
  • Fortress of Reniassa (or Fortress of Despo) in Riza (1280)
  • St. Elias prophet church (1780)
  • Aktio-Preveza Undersea Tunnel, 2002
  • Kostas Karyotakis' statue and last residence
  • Madonna Church of Foreigners (Panagia ton Xenon) (1780)
  • Monolithi beach and Monolithi forest
  • National Bank of Greece building (1931)
  • Odysseus Androutsos' marble statue
  • Ottoman baths of Ali Pasha Tepelena
  • Seytan Pazar, traditional street
  • St. Thomas Port, Preveza
  • Margarona traditional boatyard
  • Venetian clock tower of Preveza
  • Zalongo monument

Notable natives and residents

  • Abedin Dino, founding member of the League of Prizren and leading figure of the Albanian National Awakening.
  • Odysseas Androutsos, a hero of the Greek War of Independence.
  • Athanasia Tsoumeleka, athlete and Olympic Games Gold winner, in Fast Running.
  • Alexios Vlahopoulos, hero of the Greek War of Independence.
  • Ali Dino (1890–1938), famous Albanian cartoonist and member of the Hellenic Parliament.
  • Athina Papayianni, athlete.
  • Evaggelos Avdikos, sociologist, professor of University of Larissa.
  • Jannis Kallinikos, scholar and intellectual.
  • Kostas Provatas (1906–2001), popular painter from Nikopolis.
  • Nikolaos Konemenos (1837–1906), scholar.
  • Nikos Karabelas, writer and president of the foundation "Actia Nicopolis" in Preveza.
  • Kleareti Malamou-Dipla (1898–1977), poet and writer.
  • Rasih Dino (1865–1928), diplomat and signatory of Albania to the Treaty of London.
  • Shahin Dino, deputy of the sanjak of Preveza in the Ottoman Parliament and later Minister of Interior of Albania.
  • Theodoros Grivas (1797–1862), hero of the Greek War of Independence.
  • Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos (1897–1989), Hellenic Army chief and ambassador.


Preveza is linked by road to Igoumenitsa and other coastal settlements through the E55 national road, and is also linked with other cities in Epirus such as Ioannina and Arta. The Aktio-Preveza Undersea Tunnel links Preveza by road to Aetolia-Acarnania in Central Greece. Preveza also has a small commercial and passenger port and is served by the nearby Aktion National Airport, which also serves the island of Lefkada.

Historical population statistics

Year Community Municipal unit Municipality
1981 13,624
1991 13,341 16,886
2001 17,724 19,605
2001 20,795 22,853 31,733

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Preveza is a founding member of the Douzelage, a unique town twinning association of 24 towns across the European Union. This active town twinning began in 1991 and there are regular events, such as a produce market from each of the other countries and festivals.[30][31] Discussions regarding membership are also in hand with three further towns (Agros in Cyprus, Škofja Loka in Slovenia and Tryavna in Bulgaria).

  • Spain Altea, Spain – 1991
  • Germany Bad Kötzting, Germany – 1991
  • Italy Bellagio, Italy – 1991
  • Republic of Ireland Bundoran, Republic of Ireland – 1991
  • France Granville, France – 1991
  • Denmark Holstebro, Denmark – 1991
  • Belgium Houffalize, Belgium – 1991
  • Netherlands Meerssen, the Netherlands – 1991
  • Luxembourg Niederanven, Luxembourg – 1991
  • Portugal Sesimbra, Portugal – 1991
  • United Kingdom Sherborne, United Kingdom – 1991
  • Finland Karkkila, Finland – 1997
  • Sweden Oxelösund, Sweden – 1998
  • Austria Judenburg, Austria – 1999
  • Poland Chojna, Poland – 2004
  • Hungary Kőszeg, Hungary – 2004
  • Latvia Sigulda, Latvia – 2004
  • Czech Republic Sušice, Czech Republic – 2004
  • Estonia Türi, Estonia – 2004
  • Slovakia Zvolen, Slovakia – 2007
  • Lithuania Prienai, Lithuania – 2008
  • Malta Marsaskala, Malta – 2009
  • Romania Siret, Romania – 2010


See also

  • Actium
  • The Naval Battle of Actium (31 BC)
  • Ancient Nicopolis (31 BC)
  • The Naval Battle of Preveza (1538 AC)
  • The Battle of Nicopolis-Preveza (1798 AC)
  • The Combat of Preveza, Greek Civil War, 1944
  • The Aktio-Preveza Undersea Tunnel, 2003
  • The Assembly of Preveza (1879 AC)
  • New Archaeological Museum of Nikopolis 2009
  • Museum of Arts and Sciences of Epirus, 2013
  • List of settlements in the Preveza regional unit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Gouvas: "History of Preveza Prefecture", edition 2009, ISBN 978-960-87328-2-7
  2. 2.0 2.1 Petros Fourikis: "Nikopolis Preveza" first edition, Athens 1930
  3. Max Vasmer: "Die Slaven in Griechenland", 1970 (reprint), p. 64 "Preveza"
  4. Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  5. Plutarch: Life of King Pyrrhus, Kaktos editions, Athens
  6. Green, Peter (1993). Alexander to Actium: the historical evolution of the Hellenistic age. Hellenistic culture and society. University of California Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-520-08349-0. 
  7. Plutarch: Life of Marc Antony, vol.III
  8. Konstantinos Zachos: "Ancient Nicopolis", The Greek Ministry of Culture,2003
  9. Guide Bleu, Greece. Hachette-Livre, 2000. p.680
  10. Isager Jacob. Foundation and destruction, Nikopolis and Northwestern Greece. Danish Institute at Athens, 2001, ISBN 978-87-7288-734-0, p. 47.
  11. Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey (1967). Epirus: The Geography, The Ancient Remains, The History and the Topography of Epirus and Adjacent Areas. Oxford University Press. p. 46.,+meaning#search_anchor. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  12. Isager Jacob: "Foundation and destruction, Nikopolis and Northwestern Greece". Danish Institute at Athens, 2001, ISBN 978-87-7288-734-0, p. 60.
  13. Finlay, p. 209
  14. Sakellariou M.V.:"Epirus, 4,000 years of Greek history and civilisation", Ekdotikē Athēnōn, 1997, ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 306
  15. Mikropoulos A. Tassos:Elevating and Safeguarding Culture Using Tools of the Information Society: Dusty traces of the Muslim culture. Earthlab. ISBN 978-960-233-187-3, p. 313-315.
  16. Kostas Filos: Collection of private letters of 18th century, "The Museum of Arts and Sciences Harry Gouvas", in Preveza
  17. Fleming Katherine Elizabeth: The Muslim Bonaparte: Diplomacy and Orientalism in Ali Pasha's Greece. Princeton University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-691-00194-4, p. 99
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Dr.Harry Gouvas:"History of Preveza Prefecture", 2009, ISBN 978-960-87328-2-7
  19. Nikos Karabelas: "Foreign travellers in Preveza", Newspaper Kathimerini, 28 January 2001
  20. Sakellariou M. V.: "Epirus, 4,000 years of Greek history and civilisation". Ekdotikē Athēnōn, 1997, ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 306
  21. Medlicott William Norton. Bismarck, Gladstone, and the Concert of Europe University of London, Athlone Press, 1956, p. 77
  22. Jelavich, Barbara (1989). History of the Balkans: Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Joint Committee on Eastern Europe Publication Series. Cambridge University Press. p. 365. ISBN 0-521-27458-3. 
  23. Skendi, Stavro (1967). The Albanian national awakening, 1878–1912. Princeton University Press. p. 70. 
  24. Anamali, Skënder and Prifti, Kristaq. Historia e popullit shqiptar në katër vëllime. Botimet Toena, 2002, ISBN 99927-1-622-3.
  25. Gawrych, George (2006). The crescent and the eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874–1913. I.B.Tauris. pp. 54. ISBN 1-84511-287-3. 
  26. Ortayli, İlber (1998). Belleten. Belleten. 62. Türk Tarih Kurumu. p. 153. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  27. Sakellariou, M. V. (1997). Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotike Athenon. pp. 310. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2. 
  28. Sakellariou, M. V. (1997). Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotike Athenon. pp. 360. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2. 
  29. Baker, David, "Flight and Flying: A Chronology", Facts On File, Inc., New York, New York, 1994, Library of Congress card number 92-31491, ISBN 0-8160-1854-5, page 61.
  30. " Home". Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  31. " Member Towns". Retrieved 2009-10-21. 

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