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View of Lake Pamvotis and the Ioannina Castle with the Fethiye Mosque.
View of Lake Pamvotis and the Ioannina Castle with the Fethiye Mosque.
Dimos ioannitwn seal.jpg
Ioannina is located in Greece
Coordinates: 39°40′N 20°51′E / 39.667°N 20.850°E / 39.667; 20.850Coordinates: 39°40′N 20°51′E / 39.667°N 20.850°E / 39.667; 20.850
Country Greece
Administrative region Epirus
Regional unit Ioannina
 • Mayor Thomas Begas
 • Municipality 403.32 km2 (155.72 sq mi)
 • Municipal unit 47.44 km2 (18.32 sq mi)
Elevation 480 m (1,570 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Municipality 112,486
 • Municipality density 280/km2 (720/sq mi)
 • Municipal unit 80,371
 • Municipal unit density 1,700/km2 (4,400/sq mi)
 • Population 65,574 (2011)
 • Area (km2) 17.355
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 45x xx
Area code(s) 26510
Vehicle registration ΙΝ

Ioannina (Greek: Ιωάννινα, Greek pronunciation: [io̞ˈɐ.ni.nɐ]), often called Yannena (Γιάννενα, Greek pronunciation: [ˈʝɐ.ne̞.nɐ]) within Greece, is the capital and largest city of Epirus, an administrative region in north-western Greece. Its population is 112,486, according to 2011 census. It lies at an elevation of approximately 500 metres (1,640 feet) above sea level, on the western shore of lake Pamvotis (Παμβώτις). It is the capital of Ioannina regional unit and the region of Epirus. Ioannina is located 450 km (280 mi) northwest of Athens, 290 kilometres (180 miles) southwest of Thessaloniki and 80 km (50 miles) east of the port of Igoumenitsa in the Ionian Sea.

The city's foundation has traditionally been ascribed to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, but modern archaeological research has uncovered evidence of Hellenistic origins. Ioannina flourished in the late Byzantine period (13th–15th centuries). Part of the Despotate of Epirus following the Fourth Crusade, many wealthy Byzantine families fled there following the sack of Constantinople, and the city experienced great prosperity and considerable autonomy, despite the political turmoils. It surrendered to the Ottomans in 1430. Between 1430 and 1868 the city was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the 18th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment.[2][3][4][5] Ioannina joined Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars.

The city has both a General and a University Hospital,[6] and is the seat of the University of Ioannina (situated 5 km (3 mi) south of the city, with 17 departments[7] and 20,000 students) as well as several departments of the Τechnological Educational Institute of Epirus,[8] the headquarters of which are located in Arta.

The city's emblem consists of the portrait of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian crowned by a stylized depiction of the nearby ancient theater of Dodona.


The city's formal name, Ioannina, is probably a corruption of Agioannina or Agioanneia, "place of St. John", and is said to be linked to the establishment of a monastery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, around which the later settlement (in the area of the current Ioannina Castle) grew.[9][10]

There are two name forms in Greek, Ioannina being the formal and historical name, while the colloquial and more commonly used Υannena or Υannina (Greek: Γιάννενα, Γιάννινα) represents the vernacular tradition of Demotic Greek. The demotic form also corresponds to those in the neighbouring languages (e.g. Albanian: Janina or Janinë, Aromanian: Ianina, Enina, Turkish: Yanya).


Antiquity and early Middle Ages[edit]

The main entrance to the medieval fortress of the city.

The first indications of human presence in Ioannina basin are dated back to the Paleolithic period (20,000 years ago) as testified by findings in the cavern of Kastritsa.[11] During classical antiquity the basin was inhabited by the Molossians and four of their settlements have been identified there. Despite the extensive destruction suffered in Molossia during the Roman conquest of 167 BC, settlement continued in the basin albeit no longer in an urban pattern.[12]

The exact time of Ioannina's foundation is unknown, but it is commonly identified with an unnamed new, "well-fortified" city, recorded by the historian Procopius (De Aedificiis, IV.1.39–42) as having been built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) for the inhabitants of ancient Euroia.[13][14] This view is not supported, however, by any concrete archaeological evidence.[15] Early 21st-century excavations have brought to light fortifications dating to the Hellenistic period (4th–3rd centuries BC), the course of which was largely followed by later reconstruction of the fortress in the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The identification of the site with one of the ancient cities of Epirus has not yet been possible.[15][16]

It is not until 879 that the name Ioannina appears for the first time, in the acts of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, which refer to one Zacharias, Bishop of Ioannine, a suffragan of Naupaktos.[14] After the Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria, in 1020 Emperor Basil II (r. 976–1025) subordinated the local bishopric to the Archbishopric of Ohrid.[14] The Greek archaeologist K. Tsoures dated the Byzantine city walls and the northeastern citadel of the Ioannina Castle to the 10th century, with additions in the late 11th century, including the south-eastern citadel, traditionally ascribed to the short-lived occupation of the city by the Normans under the leadership of Bohemond of Taranto in 1082.[15][17] In a chrysobull to the Venetians in 1198, the city is listed as part of its own province (provincia Joanninorum or Joaninon).[18] In the treaty of partition of the Byzantine lands after the Fourth Crusade, Ioannina was promised to the Venetians, but in the event, it became part of the new state of Epirus, founded by Michael I Komnenos Doukas.[18]

Late Middle Ages (1204–1430)[edit]

Under Michael I, the city was enlarged and fortified anew.[18] Michael I settled there refugee noble Byzantine families who fled Constantinople and other parts of the Empire that fell to the Latins of the Fourth Crusade. Despite frictions with local inhabitants who tried in 1232 to expel the refugees, the latter were eventually successfully settled and Ioannina gained in both population and economic and political importance.[19] The presence of Varangians is attested in the city in 1220, and in 1225, a thema of Ioannina is mentioned. The city is often mentioned in the writings of the contemporary churchmen John Apokaukos and Demetrios Chomatenos.[18] In the aftermath of the Battle of Pelagonia in 1259, much of Epirus, including the capital, Arta, was occupied by the Empire of Nicaea, and Ioannina was placed under siege. Soon, however, the Epirote ruler Michael II Komnenos Doukas, aided by his younger son John I Doukas, managed to recover Arta and relieve Ioannina, evicting the Nicaeans from Epirus.[18][20] In c. 1275 or c. 1285, John I Doukas, now ruler of Thessaly, launched a raid against the city and its environs, in retaliation for the abduction of his son Michael, who was sent as a hostage to Constantinople, by his half-brother Nikephoros, ruler of Epirus.[18][21] The city was besieged unsuccessfully by an army from the restored Byzantine Empire, most likely in the summer or autumn of 1292.[22] Following the assassination of the last native ruler, Thomas I Komnenos Doukas by his nephew, Nicholas Orsini, in 1318, the city refused to accept the latter and turned to the Byzantines for assistance. On this occasion, Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328) elevated the city to a metropolitan bishopric, and in 1319 Andronikos II issued a chrysobull conceding wide-ranging autonomy and various privileges and exemptions on its inhabitants.[18][23] A Jewish community is also attested in the city in 1319.[24] In the Epirote revolt of 1337–1338 against Byzantine rule, the city remained loyal to Emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos (r. 1328–1341).[18]

In c. 1342, Ioannina fell to the Serb ruler Stephen Dushan, taking advantage of the Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347. The city remained part of the new Serbian Empire until Dushan's death in 1355. It then passed to Dushan's half-brother Simeon Uroš, but he was soon evicted by Nikephoros II Orsini. Nikephoros' attempt to restore the Epirote state failed disastrously in the Battle of Achelous against the Albanian tribes that had invaded the region.[25][26] Simeon Uroš then took again control of Epirus and Thessaly, ruling as "emperor of the Serbs and Greeks". Following Achelous, however, much of southern Epirus, including Arta, was overrun and settled by the Albanians; Ioannina escaped this fate, and served as a place of refuge for many Greeks of the region of Vagenetia.[27][28] In 1366/67, responding to the pleas for aid of the Ioannites, Simeon Uroš appointed his son-in-law Thomas II Preljubović as the new overlord of Ioannina. Thomas proved a tyrannical ruler, disrespecting the privileges of the citizens, confiscating Church property in favour of his Serb followers and driving the Metropolitan Sebastianos to exile; nevertheless, he was able to repel successive attempts by the Albanian chieftains Peter Losha and John Bua Spata to capture the city, most notably the great surprise attack of 1379, whose failure the Ioannites attributed to intervention by their patron, Saint Michael.[29][30]

The "Rule of Sinan Pasha" (9 October 1430), written in Greek, which granted to the citizens a series of privileges

In 1382, the Ottomans appeared in Epirus, and Thomas Preljubović lost no time in securing their aid against the Albanians.[31] After his murder in December 1384, the citizens of Ioannina offered their city to Esau de' Buondelmonti, who married Thomas' widow, Maria. Esau took care to recall those exiled under Thomas, and restore the properties confiscated by him. In 1389, Ioannina was besieged by John Bua Spata, and only with the aid of an Ottoman army under a certain Melkoutzes was Esau able to repel the Albanians. Despite the ongoing Ottoman expansion and the conflicts between Turks and Albanians in the vicinity of Ioannina, Esau managed to secure a period of peace for the city, especially following his second marriage to Spata's daughter Irene in c. 1396. From this point on Esau and the Spatas were allied, even undertaking a common attack on John Zenevisi in 1399.[32] Following Esau's death in 1411, the Ioannites turned against his unpopular widow, Eudocia Balšić, and invited the Count palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos, Carlo I Tocco, who had already been expanding his domains into Epirus for the last decade, as their new ruler. Despite early reverses, by 1416 Carlo I Tocco had managed to capture Arta as well, thereby reuniting the core of the old Epirote realm, and received recognition from both the Ottomans and the Byzantine emperor. Ioannina became the summer capital of the Tocco domains, and Carlo I died there in July 1429.[32] His oldest bastard son, Ercole, called on the Ottomans for aid against the legitimate heir, Carlo II Tocco. In 1430 an Ottoman army, fresh from the capture of Thessalonica, appeared before Ioannina, and the city surrendered soon after, after its commander, Sinan Pasha, promised to spare the city and respect its autonomy.[33]

Ottoman period (1430–1913)[edit]

Under Ottoman rule, Ioannina remained an administrative centre, as the seat of the Sanjak of Ioannina, and experienced a period of relative stability and prosperity.[10] The first Ottoman tax registers for the city dates to 1564, and records 50 Muslim households and 1,250 Christian ones; another register from 15 years later mentions Jews as well.[10]

View of the Aslan Pasha Mosque.

In 1611 the city suffered a serious setback as a result of a peasant revolt led by Dionysius the Philosopher, the Metropolitan of Larissa. The Greek inhabitants of the city were unaware of the intent of the fighting as previous successes of Dionysius had depended on the element of surprise. Much confusion ensued as Turks and Christians ended up indiscriminately fighting friend and foe alike. The revolt ended in the abolition of all privileges granted to the Christian inhabitants, who were driven away from the castle area and had to settle around it. From then onwards, Turks and Jews were to be established in the castle area. The School of the Despots at the Church of the Taxiarchs, that had been operating since 1204, was closed. Aslan Pasha also destroyed the monastery of St. John the Baptist within the city walls, killed the monks and in 1618 erected in its place the Aslan Pasha Mosque , today housing the Municipal Ethnographic Museum of Ioannina.[34] The Ottoman reprisals in the wake of the revolt included the confiscation of many timars previously granted to Christian sipahis; this began a wave of conversions to Islam by the local gentry, who became the so-called Tourkoyanniotes (Τoυρκογιαννιώτες).[10] The Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi, who visited the city in c. 1670, counted 37 quarters, of which 18 Muslim, 14 Christian, 4 Jewish and 1 Gypsy. He estimated the population at 4,000 hearths.[10]

Center of Greek Enlightenment (17th–18th centuries)[edit]

The old Zosimaia School, now municipal school

Despite the repression and conversions in the 17th century, and the prominence of the Muslim population in the city's affairs, Ioannina retained its Christian majority throughout Ottoman rule, and the Greek language retained a dominant position; Turkish was spoken by the Ottoman officials and the garrison, and the Albanian inhabitants used Albanian, but the lingua franca and native language of most inhabitants was Greek, including among the Tourkoyanniotes, and was sometimes used by the Ottoman authorities themselves.[10]

The city also soon recovered from the financial effects of the revolt. In the late 17th century Ioannina was a thriving city with respect to population and commercial activity. Evliya Çelebi mentions the presence of 1,900 shops and workshops. The great economic prosperity of the city was followed by remarkable cultural activity. During the 17th and 18th centuries, many important schools were established.[35] Its inhabitants continued their commercial and handicraft activities which allowed them to trade with important European commercial centers, such as Venice and Livorno, where merchants from Ioannina established commercial and banking houses. The Ioannite diaspora was also culturally active: Nikolaos Glykys (in 1670), Nikolaos Sarros (in 1687) and Dimitrios Theodosiou (in 1755) established private printing presses in Venice, responsible for over 1,600 editions of books for circulation in the Ottoman-ruled Greek lands, and Ioannina was the centre through which these books were channeled into Greece.[36] These were significant historical, theological as well as scientific works, including an algebra book funded by the Zosimades brothers, books for use in the schools of Ioannina such as the Arithmetica of Balanos Vasilopoulos, as well as medical books. At the same time these merchants and entrepreneurs maintained close economic and intellectual relations with their birthplace and founded charity and education establishments. These merchants were to be major national benefactors.

Zois Kaplanis, Greek philanthropist from Ioannina, founder of the Kaplaneios School

Thus the Epiphaniou School was founded in 1647 by a Greek merchant of Ioannite origin resident in Venice, Epiphaneios Igoumenos.[37] The Gioumeios School was founded in 1676 by a benefaction from another wealthy Ioannite Greek from Venice, Emmanuel Goumas. It was renamed Balaneios by its rector, Balanos Vasilopoulos, in 1725. Here worked several notable personalities of the Greek Enlightenment, such as Bessarion Makris, the priests Georgios Sougdouris (1685/7–1725) and Anastasios Papavasileiou (1715–?), the monk Methodios Anthrakites, his student Ioannis Vilaras and Kosmas Balanos. The Balaneios taught philosophy, theology and mathematics. It suffered financially from the dissolution of the Republic of Venice by the French and finally stopped operation in 1820. The school's library, which hosted several manuscripts and epigrams, was also burned the same year following the capture of Ioannina by the troops the Sultan had sent against Ali Pasha.[38] The Maroutses family, also active in Venice, founded the Maroutsaia School, which opened in 1742 and its first director Eugenios Voulgaris championed the study of the physical sciences (physics and chemistry) as well as philosophy and Greek. The Maroutsaia also suffered after the fall of Venice and closed in 1797 to be reopened as the Kaplaneios School thanks to a benefaction from an Ioannite living in Russia, Zoes Kaplanes. Its schoolmaster, Athanasios Psalidas had been a student of Methodios Anthrakites and had also studied in Vienna and in Russia. Psalidas established an important library of thousands of volumes in several languages and laboratories for the study of experimental physics and chemistry that aroused the interest and suspicion of Ali Pasha. The Kaplaneios was burned down along with most of the rest of the city after the entry of the Sultan’s armies in 1820. These schools took over the long tradition of the Byzantine era, giving a significant boost to the Greek Enlightenment. Neophytos Doukas, a famous Epirote scholar wrote, with a little exaggeration:[39]

During the 18th century, every author of the Greek world, was either from Ioannina or was a graduate of one of the city's schools.

Ali Pasha's rule (1789–1822)[edit]

In 1789 the city became the center of the territory ruled by Ali Pasha, an area that included the entire northwestern part of Greece, southern parts of Albania, Thessaly as well as parts of Euboea and the Peloponnese. The Ottoman-Albanian lord Ali Pasha was one of the most influential personalities of the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. Born in Tepelenë, he maintained diplomatic relations with the most important European leaders of the time and his court became a point of attraction for many of those restless minds who would become major figures of the Greek Revolution (Georgios Karaiskakis, Odysseas Androutsos, Markos Botsaris and others). Although during this time Ali Pasha committed a number of atrocities against the Greek population of Ioannina, culminating in the sewing up of local women in sacks and drowning them in the nearby lake,[40] this period of his rule coincides with the greatest economic and intellectual prosperity of the city. As a couplet has it "The city was first in arms, money and letters".

When the French scholar François Pouqueville visited the city during the early years of the 19th century, he counted 3,200 homes (2,000 Christian, 1,000 Muslim, 200 Jewish).[10] The efforts of Ali Pasha to break away from the Sublime Porte alarmed the Ottoman government, and in 1820 (the year before the Greek War of Independence began) he was declared guilty of treason and Ioannina was besieged by Turkish troops. Ali Pasha was assassinated in 1822 in the monastery of St Panteleimon on the island of the lake, where he took refuge while waiting to be pardoned by Sultan Mahmud II.

The Zosimaia was the first significant educational foundation established after the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence (1828). It was financed by a benefaction from the Zosimas brothers and began operating in 1828 and fully probably from 1833.[41] It was a School of Liberal Arts (Greek, Philosophy and Foreign Languages). The Zosimaia was badly damaged in an air raid by Italian planes in 1940 and was rebuilt on a new more spacious location with donations from Ioanniotes after 1955.[42] The mansion of Angeliki Papazoglou became the Papazogleios school for girls as an endowment following her death; it operated until 1905. Today it is a public school.

Last Ottoman century (1822–1913)[edit]

Greek lithography showing the surrender of Ioannina by Essat Pasha to the Greek Crown Prince future Constantine I during the First Balkan War.
Ioannina's central square (1932)
Main street (Dodonis Avenue) of the city (1940s or 1950s)

In 1869, a great part of Ioannina was destroyed by fire. The marketplace was soon reconstructed according to the plans of the German architect Holz, thanks to the personal interest of Ahmet Rashim Pasha, the local governor. Communities of people from Ioannina living abroad were active in financing the construction of most of the city's churches (the Cathedral, St. Nicholas of the Agora, St. Marina, Archimandrio etc.), schools and other elegant buildings of charitable establishments. The first bank of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Bank, opened its first branch in Greece in Ioannina, which shows the power of the city in world trade in the 19th century. During the spring of 1877, Albanian leaders organized a congress in the city regarding decisions of the Constantinople Conference and sent a memorandum to the Ottoman government demanding, among other things, the establishment of Albanian language schools.[43][44] In May 1877 various Muslim Albanians of the Vilayet formed in Ioannina a committee which aimed at defending Albanian rights, but it was inactive in general.[45][46] On the other hand, the Greek population of the Ioannina region authorized a committee in order to present to European governments their wish for union with Greece; Dimitrios Chasiotis, a notable member of this committee, published a memorandum in Paris in 1879.[47]

According to the Ottoman censuses of 1881/1893, the city and its environs (the central kaza of the Sanjak of Ioannina), had a population comprising 4,759 Muslims, 77,258 Greek Orthodox (including both Greek and Albanian speakers), 3,334 Jews and 207 of foreign nationality.[10] While a number of Turkish-language schools were established at the time, Greek-language education retained its prominent position. Even the city's prominent Muslim families preferred to send their children to well-established Greek institutions, notably the Zosimaia. As a result, the dominance of the Greek language in the city continued: the minutes of the city council were kept in Greek, and the official newspaper, Vilayet, established in 1868, was bilingual in Turkish and Greek.[10]

Modern period (since 1913)[edit]

Ioannina was incorporated into the Greek state on 21 February 1913 after the Battle of Bizani in the First Balkan War. The day the city came under the control of the Greek forces, aviator Christos Adamidis, a native of the city, landed his Maurice Farman MF.7 biplane in the Town Hall square, to the adulation of an enthusiastic crowd.[48]

After the Asia Minor Catastrophe (1922) and the subsequent population exchange, the Muslim element of the population left, and the city received Greek refugees from Asia Minor. A small Muslim community of Albanian origin continued to live in Ioannina after the exchange, which in 1940 counted 20 families and decreased to 8 individuals in 1973.[49]

In 1940 during World War II the capture of the city became one of the major objectives of the Italian Army. Nevertheless the Greek defense in Kalpaki pushed back the invading Italians.[50] In April 1941 Ioannina was intensively bombed by the German forces even during the negotiations that led to the capitulation of the Greek army.[51] During the subsequent Axis occupation of Greece, the city's Jewish community was rounded up by the Germans in 1944 and mostly perished in the concentration camps.[10]

The University of Ioannina was funded in 1970; until then, higher education faculties in the city had been part of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.[52]

Jewish community[edit]

Woman weeps during the deportation of the Jews.

According to the local Greek scholar Panayiotis Aravantinos, a synagogue destroyed in the 18th century bore an inscription, which dated its foundation in the late 9th century AD.[53] The existing synagogue is located in the old fortified part of the city known as "Kastro", at 16 Ioustinianou street. Its name means "the Old Synagogue". It was constructed in 1829. Its architecture is typical of the Ottoman era, a large building made of stone. The interior of the synagogue is laid out in the Romaniote way: the Bimah (where the Torah scrolls are read out during service) is on a raised dais on the western wall, the Aron haKodesh (where the Torah scrolls are kept) is on the eastern wall and at the middle there is a wide interior aisle. The names of the Ioanniote Jews who were killed in the Holocaust are engraved in stone on the walls of the synagogue.

There was a Romaniote Jewish community living in Ioannina before World War II, in addition to a very small number of Sephardi. According to Rae Dalven, 1,950 Jews were living in Ioannina in April 1941. Of these, 1,870 were deported by the Nazis to concentration camps on 25 March 1944, during the final months of German occupation.[54] Almost all of the people deported were murdered on or shortly after 11 April 1944, when the train carrying them reached Auschwitz-Birkenau. Only 181 Ioannina Jews are known to have survived the war, including 112 who survived Auschwitz and 69 who fled to join the resistance leader Napoleon Zervas and the National Republican Greek League (EDES). Approximately 164 of these survivors eventually returned to Ioannina.[55]

Today the remaining community has shrunk to about 50 mostly elderly people.[56][57] The Kehila Kedosha Yashan Synagogue remains locked, only opened for visitors on request. Emigrant Romaniotes return every summer and open the old synagogue. The last time a Bar Mitzvah (the Jewish ritual for celebrating the coming of age of a child) was held in the synagogue was in 2000, and was an exceptional event for the community.[58] A monument dedicated to the thousands of Greek Jews who perished during the Holocaust was constructed in the city in a 13th-century Jewish cemetery. In 2003 the memorial was vandalized by unknown antisemites.[59] The Jewish cemetery too was repeatedly vandalized in 2009.[60] As a response to the vandalisms, citizens of the city formed an initiative for the protection of the cemetery and organized rallies.[61]


Ioannina lies at an elevation of approximately 500 metres (1,640 feet) above sea level, on the western shore of lake Pamvotis (Παμβώτις). It is located within the Ioannina municipality, and is the capital of Ioannina regional unit and the region of Epirus. Ioannina is located 450 km (280 mi) northwest of Athens, 290 kilometres (180 miles) southwest of Thessaloniki and 80 km (50 miles) east of the port of Igoumenitsa in the Ionian Sea.

The municipality Ioannina has an area of 403.322 km2, the municipal unit Ioannina has an area of 47.440 km2, and the community Ioannina (the city proper) has an area of 17.335 km2.[62]


The present municipality Ioannina was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 6 former municipalities, that became municipal units (constituent communities in brackets):[63]

  • Ioannina (Ioannina, Exochi, Marmara, Neochoropoulo, Stavraki)
  • Anatoli (Anatoli, Bafra, Neokaisareia)
  • Bizani (Ampeleia, Bizani, Asvestochori, Kontsika, Kosmira, Manoliasa, Pedini)
  • Ioannina Island (Greek: Nisos Ioanninon)
  • Pamvotida (Katsikas, Anatoliki, Vasiliki, Dafnoula, Drosochori, Iliokali, Kastritsa, Koutselio, Krapsi, Longades, Mouzakaioi, Platania, Platanas, Charokopi)
  • Perama (Perama, Amfithea, Kranoula, Krya, Kryovrysi, Ligkiades, Mazia, Perivleptos, Spothoi)


Ioannina has a borderline humid subtropical (Cfa) and Mediterranean climate (Csa) in the Köppen climate classification, since only two summer months have less than 40 millimetres (1.6 in) of rainfall, preventing it from being classified as solely humid subtropical or Mediterranean, and is tempered by its inland location and elevation. Summers are typically hot and moderately dry, while winters are wet and colder than on the coast with frequent frosts and occasional snowfall. Ioannina is the wettest city in Greece. The absolute maximum temperature ever recorded was 42.4 °C (108 °F), while the absolute minimum ever recorded was −13 °C (9 °F).[64]

Climate data for Ioannina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.7
Average low °C (°F) 0.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 124.2
Average precipitation days 13.3 12.4 12.8 12.6 11.0 6.9 4.8 4.8 6.5 9.7 13.7 15.2 123.7
Average relative humidity (%) 76.9 73.7 69.5 67.9 65.9 59.1 52.4 54.4 63.6 70.8 79.8 81.5 68.0
Source: Greek National Weather Service[65]


Population of the Municipality of Ioannina.

Year Town Municipal unit Municipality
1981 44,829
1991 56,699 63,725
2001 61,629 70,203
2011 65,574 80,371 112,486

Population censuses, 1981–2011.


Landmarks and sights[edit]

Isle of Lake Pamvotis[edit]

One of the most notable attractions of Ioannina is the Ioannina Island on Lake Pamvotis. The island's official name is "Nisos Ioanninon" «Νήσος Ιωαννίνων» (Island of Ioannina). Passengers are ferried back and forth from the mainland to the island (about a 15-minute ride each way) on small motorboats which run on varying schedules, according to the season (about once every half-hour, or more, in the spring and summer, but much less frequently in the winter). Tourists can visit the monastery of Agios Panteleimon which has been converted into a museum containing information and paintings, as well as re-creations of Ali Pasha's lounging and living quarters. Ali Pasha spent the last days of his life in St Panteleimon, waiting for a pardon from the Sultan. The Island Museum is not the only attraction on the island: there are many gift-shops, tavernas, churches and bakeries on the island's winding streets. Some of the people of Ioannina even choose to make the tiny island their yearlong home, with simple rowboats moored outside their homes, or in small marinas, in the event they need to get to Ioannina proper when the motorboats are not running. The island of Ioannina in Lake Pamvotis has six monasteries: the monastery of St Nicholas (Ntiliou) or Strategopoulou from the 11th century, the Monastery of St Nicholas (Spanou) or Philanthropinon from 1292, St John the Baptist (1506 AD), Eleousis (1570 AD), St Panteleimon (17th century) and of the Transfiguration of Christ (1851 AD). The monasteries of Strategopoulou and Philanthropinon functioned also as colleges, at the latter of which taught Alexios Spanos, the monks Proklos and Comnenos and the Apsarades brothers, Theophanis and Nektarios.[34] The school continued its activities until 1758, when it was superseded by the newer collegial foundations within the city.

Ioannina Castle[edit]

View of the castle

Located in the center of the town, this was the heart of the Despotate of Epirus, and the Ottoman vilayet. The maze-like layout of the castle's streets (many of which lead to dead ends) was allegedly designed to confuse pirates of old who breached the castle walls: they would get lost within the fortress, and thus be captured before escaping with their booty. The south-eastern citadel bears the name Its Kale (Ιτς Καλέ, from Turkish Iç Kale, "inner fortress").[66] The Fethiye Mosque is located in Its Kale. The name means Victory Mosque; it was built in 1430 on the ruins of a Byzantine church. Its final form was given by Ali Pasha in 1795.[66] The city's Byzantine Museum is housed in a building rebuilt on the ruins of the seraglio of Ali Pasha in Its Kale, which were completely destroyed by fire in 1870. The museum opened in 1995 in order to preserve the findings of the wider region of Epirus, chronologically covering the early Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine period.

Greek Orthodox churches[edit]

The Cathedral of St Athanasius was completed in 1933. It was built on the foundations of the previous Orthodox Cathedral which was destroyed in the fires of 1820. It is a three-aisled basilica. It has become a place of pilgrimage for the martyrdrom of St George of Ioannina, an orphaned youth hanged in public by the Turks in 1838 for proclaiming his Christian faith. The churches of the Assumption of the Virgin at Perivleptos, Saint Nicholas of Kopanon and Saint Marina were rebuilt in the 1850s by funds from Nikolaos Zosimas and his brothers on the foundations of previous churches that perished in the great fire of 1820.

Ottoman mosques[edit]

The Fethiye Mosque is located in Its Kale. The name means Victory Mosque; it was built in 1430 on the ruins of a Byzantine church. Its final form was given by Ali Pasha in 1795.[66] From the Ottoman past of the city, another two mosques survived. One is located within the walls of the castle, the Veli Pasha Mosque. Outside the walls there is as well as the Kaloutsiani mosque, located in the area of Kaloutsiani.

Jewish Synagogue of Ioannina[edit]

The Jewish Synagogue of Ioannina is located within the walls of the Castle. During the Ottoman period, the Jewish community, both Sepharadi and Romaniote, experienced a flowering. The Jews of Ioannina were an active presence in the city's life until March 1944, when the German occupation troops arrested the entire population, 1,870 strong at the time, along with Jews from Preveza, Arta and Corfu, and deported them to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where most perished. Today the community consists of about 50 persons. The synagogue (7th century) lies inside the Castle of Ioannina.[66]


Loulis Arcade is a commercial center in which co-existed for many years the three religious groups in the city: Christians, Jews and Muslims. Initially the gallery operated as an inn and then became a commercial center. The House Hussein Matei House (= Bishop House). The building is a ruin, but can be seen from outside.[66] Botanically, the region of Ioannina is dominated by robust, fragrant pine trees, many of which grow within the city itself, especially around the old castle, or fortress walls.


Street near the castle
Clocktower of Ioannina.
The city hall

Culinary specialties[edit]

  • The region of Ioannina is well known for the production of Feta cheese.
  • Ioannina is also widely famous for its Baklava.[67]

Museums and Galleries[edit]

The National Archaeological Museum of Ioannina, Litharitsia Castle Square. Includes archaeological exhibits from four regional units of Epirus. You can see here the history of Epirus from prehistoric times through the 19th century.[66] Notable exhibits include palaeolithic tools, finds from Dodona, bronze vessels and votive bronzes and Frankish/Byzantine capitals taken from a church of that period.

The city's Byzantine Museum is housed in a building rebuilt on the ruins of the seraglio of Ali Pasha in Its Kale, which were completely destroyed by fire in 1870. The museum opened in 1995 in order to preserve the findings of the wider region of Epirus, chronologically covering the early Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine period. The museum's cultural center hosts musical and theatrical events, and issues periodic reports, among other activities. The collections include early Christian and Byzantine sculptures plus exhibits of the arts, ceramics, books, pictures and a valuable collection of silverware. During the summer season the museum operates Mondays 12.00-19.00 hours and other days 08.30-19.00. The museum is accessible to people with disabilities.

The Municipal Ethnographic Museum and its three departments, Greek, Ottoman Muslim and Jewish is hosted in Aslan Pasha Mosque, in the castle. Of particular interest are the Epirote costumes on display. The Museum of Fotis Rapakousis is located in the Aslan Mosque complex. By agreement between the city and the collector, the collection has been hosted on these premises since 2000, in cooperation with the Municipal Folklore and Ethnographic Museum, housed in the Aslan Mosque. The entire collection contains 6,000 objects, grouped in four categories: weapons with their accessories, jewelry from the 18th and 19th centuries, ceramics (Islamic art pottery of Greece, Tsanak Kale) Opening hours: 9:00 to 16:00.[66]

Near Ioannina, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of the city, lies the Pavlos Vrellis Greek History Museum, a wax museum which covers events and personalities from Greek history. Established in 1995, this second Museum of Pavlos Vrellis (died 2010) is the result of the personal work of one man.[66]

The Municipal Art Gallery of Ioannina (Dimotiki Pinakothiki): Housed since 2000 in the Pyrsinela neoclassical building, built in 1890. Basil Pyrsinella who served as mayor of Ioannina, donated his movable and immovable property in 1958 to the municipality of Ioannina. In 1960 he created the first Regional Municipal Art Gallery in Greece. The gallery's collection displays major modern works of painters and sculptors, collected through purchases and donations from various collectors and artists. This includes about 500 works, paintings, drawings, prints, pictures and sculptures.[66]


The University of Ioannina (Greek: Πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων, Panepistimio Ioanninon) is a university located 5 km southwest of Ioannina, Greece. The university was founded in 1964, as a charter of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and became an independent university in 1970.

As of 2014, there is a student population of 15,000 enrolled at the university (11,000 at the undergraduate level and 3,500 at the postgraduate level) and 580 faculty members, while teaching is further supplemented by 171 Teaching Fellows and 132 Technical Laboratory staff. The university Administrative Services are staffed with 420 employees.[68][69]

The University of Ioannina is one of the leading academic institutions in Greece.[70][71][72][73][74]

The Technological Educational Institute (T.E.I.) of Epirus was founded in 1994 in the northwestern part of Greece. It is a Public Institution, completely self-governed, and belongs to the technological sector of Greek Tertiary Education. It functions under the supervision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs. It has its main Campus and administrative centre in Arta and Departments in Ioannina, Preveza and Igoumenitsa. In Ioannina there is the Faculty of Health & Welfare Professions of the Institute.

Local products[edit]

  • The area is also famous for its spring water Zagori, which is sold over much of Greece.
  • Ioannina is famous throughout Greece for its silverwork, with a plethora of shops selling silver jewelry, bronzeware and decorative items (serving trays, recreations of shields and swords, etc.).
  • Hookahs (ναργιλές) are sold to tourists as novelty items and vary in size from small (3 inches in height) to quite large (4-5 ft (2 m). tall). The larger sized hookahs are often purchased by Greeks and tourists alike to be used in home decor.


Notable Ioannites[edit]


Ioannina is home to a major sports team called PAS Giannina. It's an inspiration for many of old as well as new supporters of the whole region of Epirus, even outside Ioannina. Rowing is also very popular in Ioannina; the lake hosted several international events and serves as the venue for part of the annual Greek Rowing Championships.

Sport clubs based in Ioannina
Club Founded Sports Achievements
PAS Giannina 1966 Football Long-time presence in A Ethniki
AGS Giannena 1967 Basketball, Volleyball Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki volleyball
AE Giannena F.C. 2004 Football Earlier presence in Gamma Ethniki
Giannena AS 2014 Volleyball Presence in A2 Ethniki volleyball


International relations[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Ioannina is twinned with:

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]