Arta was built on the site of ancient Ambrakia a Dorian stronghold. Ambrakia did not participate in the Trojan War which was mostly an Ionian affair. In 625 BC, Corinthians conquered and settled the city. Ambrakia participated in the naval Battle of Salamis with 5 ships and in the Battle of Plataea with 500 hoplites.
In 295 BC Ambrakia became part of the Kingdom of Epirus of which it soon was made the capital by King Pyrrhos. The Romans conquered and looted the city in 189 BC.
In the 11th Century AD, Epirotes built upon the ruins of Ambrakia naming their city Arta. It became the capital of the Despotate of Epirus in 1204. In 1449 the city surrendered to the Ottoman Turks who ruled it until 1881 when it became part of Greece.