“Ioannina, leading the arms, the finance and the education”
This expression is used to characterize Ioannina, a city that is unique in Greece for its natural beauty, the people, its great history. I live in this city and every day that passes, i feel how special it is. A city that gave birth to important Greek benefactors and scholars, a city where the trade and the arts thrived, the city of Ali Pasha. Ioannina with the scenic lake and the small island were an important center of the Neohellenic enlightenment and nowadays they are a modern city, a vivid, full of energy university city! They keep changing, becoming more beautiful, with more green spaces while pedestrian’s ways form the, once full of cars, roads!! Definitely is a city to live in! This winter we travel to Ioannina and check here what you are about to see in the beautiful capital of Epirus.
1. The castle
The famous castle is one of the most important sights of the city! Built in 538 A.D, by emperor Justinian, served as an important stronghold of the Byzantine empire and later, under the Ottoman rule of Ali pasha, was one of the biggest commanding centers in Greece. Its high walls are preserved exceptionally and impress with their construction! The castle is a vivid part of the city, since its inhabited, thus forming the heart of the old city! Visit it, disappear in its narrow alleys and enjoy a travel in time!!
2. The mosques
During the Ottoman occupation, many mosques were built in the city of Ioannina and the best preserved ones are located inside the castle’s walls! In the northwest citadel of the castle you can find the Aslan pasha mosque, where now days, the municipality museum is housed. Many exhibits of Greek, Islamic and Jewish interest are exposed there. In the same area there is a museum that houses the items of collector Fotis Rapakousis, mainly arms and jewels. On the southeast inner citadel, also known as Its kale, you will see the Fethiye mosque, which is a great sample of Ottoman architecture, as well as the notable Byzantine museum. Next to the mosque is the tomb of Ali pasha where, according to tradition, lies his headless body.
Municipality museum: 08:00-15:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00-17:00 on weekends (winter period), Everyday 08:00-20:00 (summer period). Ticket 3 euros and 1 euro reduced price.
Museum Fotis Rapakousis: Everyday 08:00-15:00 (winter period) and 08:00-20:00 (summer period). euros and 1 euro reduced price.
Byzantine museum: 08:30-17:00 Apart from Mondays and holidays.
3. The lake
The lake Pamvotis is indeed the jewel of the city. Its one of the most beautiful and scenic lakes, with interesting flora and fauna, that follows step by step Ioannina’s history. In the lake’s waters, Ali pasha drawn Kira Frosini and over its frozen surface Dourahan Pasla passed with his troops. It gives life and beauty to Ioannina. The lake side route is full of people that chooses it either for walking, running on bicycle riding! Whenever you travel to Ioannina go for a walk by the lake! You will instantly feel the serenity that it offers and you will admire the marvelous view of the mountain Mitsikeli! Alternatively take one of the boats for a nice ride in its waters and see the castle from a different point of view!!
Fly to Ioannina with Aegean
4. The island
The small island in the lake of Ioannina is special for 2 reasons. Firstly it doesn’t have a name, probably because it doesn’t need one, since it relates with the lake Pamvotis. Secondly it is inhabited, thus being the only island, as people say, in a lake that has permanent residents. Form the scenic port take one of the boats and after a while you will get there! A visit there will reveal you a beautiful, scenic traditional settlement with narrow alleys to walk around, tourist shops and restaurants. The eels, crayfishes and fishes are in the menu. In the island there is also the house (now a museum) of Ali pasha, in which he was killed in 1822. On the flour you can still see the holes of the bullets that killed him. Other important sights are the monasteries that are located on the island and more specific the monastery of Filanthropinon with its unique pieces of iconography.
5. The cave of Perama
Just in the outskirts of Ioannina the famous cave of Perama is located! In the deep chambers of the nearby hill, a magical world is hidden and was hidden until 1940. People’s need for protection led to its discovery. Now you can visit it and admire nature’s magnitude. Stalactites and stalagmites, various rocky formations are some of the sights of a cave which is considered to be among the best in the world. The temperature of the interior is 18°C, so it would be nice to have a jacket with you. The tour guide will offer you a unique tour of the cave, lengthwise its 1100 meters and through its different underground chambers and will describe with details the natural wonders that you look. Its open daily from 09:00 to 17:00.
Ticket price: 7 Euro, 5,5 for groups and 3,5 reduced ticket
6. The museum of wax figurines
On the road to Athens you will find the museum of wax figurines of Paul Vrellis. A unique museum, throughout the Greek territory, similar to the one of Madame Tyssauds in London! Through its wax exhibits, it covers various moments and periods of the Greek history. Made in natural size, the wax figurines are located in different rooms, where the moments of the Greek history are represented accurately! The features and the events are presented exceptionally due to the talent and personal work of the Greek sculptor. I will never forget, when i visited the museum as a child, the representation of the scene of the Ali pasha assassination in the small island of the lake. It was such a vivid and accurate scene. The museum is open from 10:00 to 16:00 ( winter time ) and from 09:30 to 17:00 ( summer time ).
Ticket price: 6 Euros, 5 for group and 4-3 depending, reduced ticket.
7. The silverware
Ioannina were famous for the trade and one of these fields was the one of the silver crafting. The silversmiths from Ioannina were considered to be among the best in Greece, creating jewels and items of exceptional craftsmanship and style. Today all the silversmiths that have left continue preserving their skill in a high level. You will be impressed by the incredible level of detail in their creations of the silversmiths. While walking around you will find in the shops silver jewels, objects of lower and higher value. After all a silver crafted jewel from Ioannina is probably one of the best gifts that you can give to someone you love!
Find hotels in Ioannina in great prices
8. The sweets
What can anyone say about the local sweets! All who have visited the city still talk about the famous syrupy sweets. The sweets have direct influences from the Ottoman period following however their own path. Baklava, Kantaifi, the Gianniotiko, a sweet that combines both the Baklava and the Kantaifi, Custard filled pastry, Rice pudding, various jams and Turkish delights are only some of the sweets that you will feel free to try. Their taste is amazing, since the used ingredients are pure and their preparation’w experience great. They are simply famous all over Greece. So visit the various patisseries and spoil you selves.
9. The ancient theater of Dodoni
Not far away from Ioannina the ancient theater of Dodoni is located. In an area of exceptional beauty, next to the homonym village lies one of the best preserved ancient theaters in Greece. Built by Pyrros, the king of Epirus, it was one of the biggest theaters, with a capacity of 18.000 spectators.It is a very important archaeological monument which along with the homonym oracle served as a religious place for worshiping Zeus! The oracle was one of the oldests and most important in Greece and dates back to 2600 B.C. A visit is worthy in such a famous, during the antiquity, holy place, a place of civilization and worship.
10. The village Ligkiades
Across the city of Ioannina, high above the Mitsikeli mountain is the village of Ligkiades. Many of its residents were executed at that place during WWII, from the German occupation troops. The monument that was built as a memorial, still reminds that dark moment in history. Apart from their historical value, the Ligkiades village offer the best panoramic view of the lake and the city of Ioannina! Drive your way up there and enjoy the magic moment when the sun sets!!
So don’t wait any further!! The scenic city of Ioannina is your ideal destination!! A city both old and modern! A city that waits you to be discovered!! Pack your luggage and you are off to Ioannina!!!!