Nikopolis was founded by Julius Caesar's heir apparent Octavian Augustus in 30BC after his victory at Actium, the name meaning 'Victory City'. Octavian had blockaded and then wiped out the fleets of Antony and Kleopatra which had intended to invade Italy, and his reward for this rather important victory was his elevation from military commander to Roman Emporer (hence the title 'Augustus').
The site was chosen because the army had camped there previous to the battle, concentrating his forces, but was a poor geographical choice with both water and the populace having to imported from some distance. The inhabitants were resettled from most of the towns of Aetolia and Akarnania, and the new Roman colony made a member of the Amphictyonic League.
The Actian games were also transferred here. Tradition has it that St. Paul spent a winter here, perhaps around 64AD, where he wrote his Epistle to Titus. By 67 AD the city was the capital of an Ipirot province. The philosopher Epictetus had a school here (around 60-140AD) and it was the supposed birthplace of Pope St. Eleftherios (175-179). It flourished during the time of Strabo, but was plundered by Alaric, Genseric and Totila. Justinian re-fortified it during the 6th century AD, but with the Slav invasions (and earthquakes), the Byzantines removed themselves to Nafpaktos and the town declined, with most of its inhabitants returning to their original homes. It has been excavated at intervals since 1913 by The Greek Archaeological Service.