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Ioannina: The Jewel of Epirus

Ioannina: The Jewel of Epirus

from Ioanna Vennieri

Blessed with charm, generous and rich cultural heritage, Ioannina or Yannena, is a city full of mystery from ancient times, that is today modern and dynamic, filled with a vibrant pulse! We are invited this Fall to discover her beauties and to take unforgettable excursions to the alluring mountain villages that surround her and enchant us…

The manorial capital of Epirus, Ioannina, is a city that harmoniously combines the past and present. It spreads next to the calm waters of Lake Pamvotida, at an altitude of 500 m., and between the slopes of Mount Mitsikeli.

To discover its mystical charm, we will promenade by the shores of its lake, we will stroll in the streets of its castle, but also in its beautiful neighborhoods.

The modern city of Ioannina, full of vitality and freshness, fits perfectly with the old city, which takes you to another era, full of secrets and legends.

Near the castle, we will walk in the pedestrian streets of the market with the Ioannina silversmith workshops, for which the city is famous.

The beauties of the land…

The lakeside road with the plane trees, next to the calm waters of Lake Pamvotida allows for a beloved stroll for the locals and visitors alike, who want to experience the essence of the city.

This pathway is also suitable for jogging and cycling. Those who love fishing, enjoy it for hours on the shores of the lake… 

In the city center we can visit the remarkable Archaeological Museum of Ioannina and the Historical Museum of Ioannina Agios Nikolaos.

The landmark Clock in the city’s main square, a work by Pericles Melirritos, catches our eye. One of the special sights of Ioannina that is worth visiting is the Cave of Perama, where we will see impressive stalactites and stalagmites.

A few kilometers outside of Ioannina, on the road to Arta, we will find the famous Museum of Greek History by Pavlos Vrellis with the wax figures, which has been operating since 1995.

A tribute to the anonymous and eponymous heroes whose lives and history were interwoven with the place.

In the imposing Castle…

Of course, we will take the time to discover the Castle City of Ioannina, which has historical memories that are still very much alive…

It was built in 528 AD by the Emperor Justinian. In the 19th century, it became the largest administrative center of Turkish-occupied Greece. Great military leaders came here to attend the war schools of Ali Pasha, who sought their favor.

Here rises the imposing Fethiye Mosque, on the Acropolis of the Castle, overlooking Lake Ioannina. Right next to it is the tomb of Ali Pasha.

The Aslan Pasha Mosque and the elegant building of the Library dominate with their presence in the northeast side of the Castle.

The Byzantine Museum and the Municipal Museum are also worth a visit.

Excursion to the Island of Ioannina…

In front of the Castle there are boats that will take us in ten minutes (every hour in winter) to the picturesque island of Kyra Frosini.  You will be “sailing” in the waters of Lake Pamvotida. Overgrown with pines, plane trees and cypresses, it hides legends and stories …

It is tied to the story of Ali Pasha and “Kyra” (lady) Frosini, who enchanted his son.

Walking on the paved cobbled path of the island we will reach the Ali Pasha Museum, where he lived until his violent death.

Holes in the floor can be seen from the bullets that killed him. We will also see the “onda” (living room) of Ali Pasha, local costumes, documents of the time, personal items, etc.

On the island there are important monasteries, such as Agios Panteleimon, Agios Nikolaos, Agios Ioannis Prodromos and Agios Nikolaos Gkoumatos, with the 15th century miraculous icon of Panagia Eleousa.

It is worth discovering the Island walking in its cobbled streets, to see its traditional houses with flower gardens and the shops exhibiting traditional folk art, the silver jewels, and the ornate objects, all intricately decorated with knowledge and passion.

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We will even visit the Information Center of Lake Pamvotida, a remarkable exhibition space.

In the taverns of the island, we will enjoy exquisite, special local delicacies, such as frog legs and eels.

Escapes to the surroundings and activities…

From Ioannina we will easily ascend to the village of Ligiades to enjoy the panoramic view of the Lake with backdrop the City. The best time is at sunset.

Having Ioannina city as our reference point, we will have the opportunity to take many interesting excursions to the famous Zagorochoria (Aristi, Megalo and Mikro Papigo, Kipou, Monodendri etc.), to admire the divinely inspired stone villages of Zagori and the impressive rivers of the area. Other excursions that are worthwhile are in traditional Metsovo, but also in the mountain villages of Syrrako and Kalarrytes, the stone ornaments of Tzoumerka!

Lovers of alternative tourism can enjoy the interesting hiking trails in the Vikos Canyon, rafting in the crystal-clear waters of the river Voidomatis and horseback riding in the forests.

Excellent food with traditional flavors such as flour pie, we will enjoy in the taverns of these mountain villages.

Taste of tradition…

The evening will find us in Ioannina, where in the taverns and restaurants of the city we will enjoy very good food and fine wine from the area of Zitsa or local tsipouro.

Cheese pies, green pies, grilled meats, delicious home cooked delicacies, but also seafood. Of course, we will try the traditional syrup sweets such as Gianniotiko baklava, kadaifi, flutes, galaktoboureko, milk pie, saragli, walnut pie, because we will definitely not be able to resist them.

What to buy

Silver and golden jewelry and objects made with mastery from local craftsmen.

Best places are KE.PA.V.I at the Castle nearby the Silversmithing Museum and of course the historical IOANNIDIS since 1890 jewelry shop.

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