Ioannina! The Miraculous Land!

Ioannina is definitely the land that will amaze you with the combined beauties of nature! Rivers… Lakes… Gorges… Ancient Built Stone Bridges… Mountains… Forests… The Land that has it all! A photographer’s paradise! The place that once visited will never be forgotten!

Rich in evidence of its long and illustrious history, the past lives again… Is alive in the people… It is alive in their stories, music, and way of life. This is a place where yesterday and today blend harmoniously together!

Alley in the Castle of Ioannina by Nicholas V. K.
Alley in the Castle of Ioannina by Nicholas V. K.

This is the place of birth of the most important benefactors, scholars, intellectuals, traders, publishers of Greece and of course contributors to the Greek Enlightenment… The Maroutsis Family, Georgios Hadjikostas, Elisabeth Kastrisogia, Athanasios Psalidas, Georgios Stavrou, Nikolaos Saros, The Zosimas Brothers, Manthos and Georgios Rizaris and many more.

The land with unlimited places to reveal and unfold like… The City of Ioannina… The Little Island in Lake Pamvotis… The Zagoria Villages… The Rivers… The Vikos Gorge… The Cave of Perama… Vrellis Wax Museum… The National Park of Pindus Mountains… The Stone Bridges… The Museums… The Temples… The traditional cafes and restaurants… There is no other place with as much as Ioannina has to offer…

Lake Pamvotis, The jewel of the district!

Widely also known as Pamvotida or Lake of Ioannina this is one of the very few lakes that feature an island with over 600 residents! A lake that is believed to have been in existence for more than 10,000 years!

Lake Pamvotis extends in 23 square kilometres, 470 m above sea level. The lake was formed in 10.000 BC. The depth of the lake varies from 3 – 13 meters and has a perimeter of 33 km. Its maximum width is 5 km and is 7.5 km long. The city of Ioannina lies on the west side of the lake.

It is the most important lake in Epirus. The waters of the streams and the fountains (such as the fountain of Drabatova) around it gather their waters in the lake. The surplus water is lead through the Lapsista canal to the river Kalamas. Each year there are many sports even held in the lake, such as water skiing, canoeing, paddle, etc.

Ioannina
Ioannina © Menelaos Sykovelis

Ali Pasha, the notorious Turk commander, drowned lady Frosyni and 16 other women in the lake. Also, Dourahan Pasha of Roumeli crossed the frozen lake with his army, thinking it was land. He considered it a miracle and built the Christian monastery of Dourahani, In the years 1888, 1928, 1958 and 1992 the lake froze in the degree that the inhabitants of Nissi were going to Ioannina on boot or by bicycle over the frozen lake.

The small island in the lake is the only inhabited island in Greece without a name. It is simply called Nissi which in Greek means island. The Historical museum of Ali Pasha and the many post-Byzantine monasteries are some of the attractions of the island.

The Castle of Ioannina is One of the Oldest Castles in Greece!

An imposing presence impressing every visitor! Standing proudly through the ages the Castle of Ioannina is one of the oldest in Greece. A place to be admired! An harmonious blend of thousands of years of history and today’s life since the old city of Ioannina is still existent and vibrant behind the Castle’s walls.

The castle of Ioannina is one of the oldest castles built in 528. In 1082, the Norman Bohemund from Taranto added two citadels to the ruins of the Byzantine fortification and dug a fortification trench starting from the church of St. Nikolaos Kopanon.

Castle of Ioannina © Nicholas V. K.
The Castle of Ioannina © Nicholas V. K.

The Lords of the Despotate of Epirus and the rulers on added new fortifications until 1430, when the city surrendered to the Turks. The Franks left it ruined, until 1788 when Ali Pasha took over command. Ali rebuilt the fortification walls and built a second internal wall to protect his palace and his Command Center. The walls (2.000 meters long and up to 10 m. thick), the 250 cannons, the polygonal towers and the renewal of the trench ensured that the castle was impenetrable.

From the original fortification, only the tower of the Despot Thomas and a small part of the North West acropolis are today preserved. The castles of Ioannina and Rhodes are the most beautiful citadels in Greece.

Silversmiths Craft

An individual traditional craft has developed for centuries: the craft of processing silver by hand in order to make items of unique art.

During the last centuries, the workshops of Ioannina upgraded their technique and as a result, the well-known silverware of Ioannina is now recognised as the best of its kind.

The beginnings of the silversmith’s craft in Ioannina date back to the beginning of the history of the city of Ioannina as well. From various references, we know that the silver is processed in Ioannina since the years of the Byzantine Empire. In addition, Turkish documents refer that in 1430 the sector of the silversmith’s craft is at its peak. There is evidence that all these years the silversmiths from Ioannina have trading and exporting activity in places such as Belgrade, Venice, Bucharest, Prague, Vienna, even in Skopje and Russia.

There are about 90 workshops in Ioannina today that continue producing handmade The noted hand engraved utensils

  • The hand engraved ecclesiastical objects, such as hanging oil-lamps and holly icon
  • The cast utensils, such as teaspoons and dinner sets
  • The cast lamps
  • The filigree (“syrmatera” in Greek) jewels and utensils made entirely by silver wire twisted in patterns, all handmade, technique known since the years before Christ
  • The known Byzantine and Archaic jewels

Nightlife

Ioannina is a city full of life and energy. The locals are on foot day and night and they claim that the secret of their energy and nice mood is resulting out of the affect of the “Magical” powers of Lake Pamvotis.

So when the night falls over the city and the stars begin to be reflected on the surface of the lake, the lights in clubs and bars are lit and are inviting everyone in for an all night long fun!

Nightlife in this city starts quite early with a coffee or just a cocktail and goes on until dawn. The options offered are limitless and surely can satisfy even the most demanding.

Local Cuisine

Ioannina and the wider region of Epirus have a rich gastronomic tradition based on the use of high-quality fresh local produce. Menus vary with the seasons, reflecting the best that nature provides at different times of the year. The lamb and beef are succulent on their own, or in the many traditional meat-based dishes.

But vegetarians also love the local cuisine which offers them a variety of imaginative dishes featuring the organically produced vegetables of the region. Various fish dishes from the nearby wetlands are part of the unique traditional menu.

Fish from the lake is a specialty in the capital Ioannina while locally produced cheeses are a prominent feature on many menus. The food is enhanced by the use of fresh herbs grown in the traditional stone villages.

And needless to say that here too… there is even a local ‘eau-de-vie’, called Tsipouro, which has been distilled locally for generations.

If you are around you should not miss the opportunity to taste the most famous pies.Click To Tweet

And a little bit of History…

The city of Ioannina was the center of the Greek Enlightenment (1647-1830). Despite the hard times, the city managed to recover. Its inhabitants continued their commercial and handicraft activities which allowed them to trade with important European commercial centers like Venice and Livorno, where merchants from Ioannina established commercial and banking houses. All four Greek printers in Venice were Ioannites and produced significant books historical, theological, scientific and 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. The Epirotan Thomas Flanginios (Tomasso Flangini) founded a Greek College in Venice in 1664. These people were to be major national benefactors.

In the 17th century, Ioannina was a thriving city with respect to population and commercial activity. The great economic prosperity of the city was followed by a remarkable cultural activity.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, many important schools were established. The Epiphaniou was established in 1647 by a Greek merchant in Venice, Epiphaneios, the School of Gouma or Goumeios was founded in 1676 by a benefaction from another wealthy Ioannitan Greek from Venice, Emmanuel Goumas which was rechristened the Balaneios by its Rector, Balanos Vasilopoulos in 1725, the Maroutseios opened in 1742 and had been founded by a benefaction by yet another wealthy Ioannitan from Venice, Lampros Maroutsis.

The Maroutseios as the others suffered by the fall of Venice and closed in 1797 to be reopened as the Kaplaneios thanks to a benefaction from an Ioannitan living in Russia, Zois Kaplanis.

Neofitos Doukas a famous Epirot scholar wrote that during the 18th century, every author of the Greek world, was either from Ioannina or was a graduate of one of the city’s school.

Article © INAOSSIEN

in Love with The Med

Discover the Mediterranean through the eyes of a group of Greeks, Italians and British Bloggers! All passionate travellers and in love with the region!