"beautiful!" Top 5 Page for this destination Ioannina by mindcrime
Ioannina Travel Guide: 181 reviews and 605 photos
Ioannina is one of my favorite greek cities and I used to go there once a year. It’s located 450km NW of Athens at Epirus region, 60km south from Albania and 80km from the port of Igumenitsa.
The city is built at the western side of Pamvotida lake opposite Mitsikeli mountain.
It has about 130.000 inhabitants and because of the university thousands(more than 18.000) of students give mood to the nightlife with many cafes, pubs and taverns full of people all the time. The castle, the museums, the cozy promenade Molos by the lake, the old houses and the mosque are some of the reasons that I like this picturesque city but also the small island in the middle of the lake. The local cousine is great especially if you like meat but the vegetarians will find interesting plates like the famous pies of any kind (yes, they have meat pies also…). The sweets are also great and mainly similar to the Turkish sweets (baklavas, kadaifi etc). And above all the famous local tsipuro, a strong alcohol similar to raki from Crete or ouzo but much more stronger. Don’t forget that the locals drink it always with food and good company so beware :)
You can easily walk around the city, especially in the center of the city, inside the castle and of course take the ferry to the island of the lake and walk around (always a must do action for me every time we go there).
You can use buses for the surrounded villages but it will be much more easier if you rent a car (buy a map of Ioannina prefecture). Winters are really cold here, the Ioannina has the highest of amount of rain in Greece so yes, bring an umprella. :)
-Walk inside the castle, see the old city and visit the Byzantine museum, the mosque etc
-Go to the island of the lake by the small ferry and walk around it, visit the monasteries, the house of Ali Pasha and eat at the taverns of the village
-try to eat local products like several pies, feta, galotyri and great sweets
-Visit Perama for the Perama cave for the stalagmites etc
-Walk down the central square of Ioannina, at the heart of the modern city at Averof street where many jewelery shops are
-Buy unique silver items, the city is famous for the traditional handmade products of this material
-Visit the ancient site of Dodoni (22km away) and Bizani for the Vrellis museum (wax effigies)
-Visit some nice villages among the beautiful landscape of the mountains. Some great day trips are to Metsovo, Pramanta, Syrakko, or some of the Zagorochoria villages like Pappingo, Elafotopos, Ano Pedina, Kato Pedina, Vikos, Aristi etc
-Check also Valia Kalda valley, kayaking at Arachthos river etc
Although there was definitely human existence since the ancient times, we have to go at the 6th century to find the city that was founded by the Justinian the Great(482-565), the Byzantine emperor that became a saint for the orthodox church. He was the one that built the castle around the small village that was there. Agios Ioannis (St John) was the tutelar saint of the village and probably the city took the name because of this. Then the town was part of the Bulgarian empire and conquered by Normans in 1082.
The Despotate of Epirus emerged in the aftermath of the 4th Crusade in 1204 and had 2 major towns, Arta as a capital and Ioannina. Because of the privileges that the authorities from Istanbul gave to Ioannina it became a major economic and cultural center of the area. From 1430 when the Turks were in charge since the 1611 the privileges of the inhabitants were active. Then, all the Christians had to live outside of the castle because of the revolution against the Ottoman empire (organized by Dionisios Skylosophos). But it seems that they didn’t have any other problems so the cultural and commercial activities kept going, many migrated abroad and it is that period that many important schools were founded like Zosimea, Epiphanips and others that you can still see in the city. Most of them were from former immigrants that became rich and educated abroad.
Then, on 1788, Ali Pasha from Telepene (in Albania) ruled the area of Epirus and Thesaly and he is the most famous of all the turk leaders of the area (at least he’s the one I clearly remember from my school books). Ali Pasha kept the cultural activities of the city alive and had many connections with European leaders so he was declared guilty of treason from the Sultan. It was the year 1821 when the Greek Revolution began against the Ottomans. Then there was a period of decline since 21 February 1913 when Ioannina became part of Greece (see my Bizani page). All the turks moved to Turkey during the population exchange in 1922. It didn’t happen the same with the jewes some years later when the german army killed most of them (you can visit the jewish cemetery)
Just opposite the Municipal Hall is the Pyrrou square which continues to Dimokratias square that has houses many... more travel advice
Kouax (named after the sound of a frog, that’s how it sounds in greek! :) ) is a small café/tavern at the central square... more travel advice
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