Situated in Northwestern Greece, built by the spectacular LakePamvotis at the foot of Mt. Mitsikeli, Ioannina boasts an idyllic scenery characterized by an atmosphere full of legends and mystery created by the rich history of the region.
History and Culture
Ioannina, situated in the North-West of Greece, is the largest city of Epirus and capital of the prefecture with just over 100,000 citizens. Located on the Northwest side of LakePamvotida and surrounded by some of Greece’s most spectacular mountains, Ioannina is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, with an important course in the nation’s history.
It was founded in the 6th century during the Byzantine period and became an important commercial and cultural centre. In 1430 it was occupied by the Ottoman Turks, yet it enjoyed special privileges such as free trade and cultural independence. Ali Pasha, important lord of the city during the Turkish occupation, left his indelible marks in the city’s architectural life with three glorious mosques that predominate in the city among other monuments. Many legends originate from his charismatic personality. The drowning of Kyra Frosyni and the existence of a tunnel underneath the lake are examples that give the city an atmosphere full of pictures and mystery and become alive in front of one’s eyes when taking a stroll in the old town’s streets.
In the 20th century although the city was in turmoil twice (in 1917 under the Italian occupation and in 1944 under the German rule), its intellectual life developed rapidly. Schools and academies were founded, magazines and newspapers were published, libraries and museums were built, establishing Ioannina as the metropolis of Epirus.
Modern Life and Entertainment
With over 1/4th of its population being university students, Ioannina is a vibrant city buzzing with life. Taking a stroll along the legendary lake, enjoying its unique natural beauty or visiting the picturesque island situated in the middle of the lake is a thrilling experience leaving the visitor impressed by the unusual atmosphere of the place. After the sun sets, the old town’s cobbled streets fill with life. The ‘tsipouradika’ serve the local drink called ‘tsipouro’ with mezes (small portions of local food) and traditional music, invite people of all ages to experience the city’s nightlife. Walking along the old town’s picture-perfect neighborhoods that expand around the Castle and gazing at the well-preserved edifices, the beautiful squares and the folk art workshops that produce the famous Ioannina silverware, is definitely a stunning experience that evokes the spirit of a distant past.
Ioannina has a large academic community which brings a lively and creative dynamism to the city. Daily life is full of intellectual and artistic events such as photographic exhibitions, theatrical performances, festivals and concerts. Sport events are held at the lake and in the city’s stunning surroundings: in the impressive mountains, rivers, lakes and natural parks that conceal a truly unspoiled paradise.
Ioannina is an exhilarating escape for lovers of nature and for those who seek to experience a more traditional way of life.
Further Information and Useful Links