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Ioannina and Lake Pamvotida seen from Mitsikeli mountain
Ioannina and Lake Pamvotida seen from Mitsikeli mountain
Ioannina is located in Greece
Coordinates 39°40′N 20°51′E / 39.667°N 20.85°E / 39.667; 20.85Coordinates: 39°40′N 20°51′E / 39.667°N 20.85°E / 39.667; 20.85
Country: Greece
Periphery: Epirus
Prefecture: Ioannina
Mayor: Nikolaos Godas
Population statistics (as of 2001[1])
 - Population: 70,203
 - Area: 47.440 km2 (18 sq mi)
 - Density: 1,480 /km2 (3,833 /sq mi)
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (center): 480 m (1,575 ft)
Postal: 45x xx
Telephone: 26510
Auto: ΙΝ

Ioannina (Greek: Ιωάννινα, IPA: [joˈanina], often Γιάννενα, [ˈʝanena]) is a city of Epirus, north-western Greece, with a metropolitan population of approximately 100,000, and lies at an elevation of 600 metres above sea level. It is the capital of Ioannina Prefecture and of Epirus, lying on the western side of lake Pamvotis (Παμβώτις). Ioannina is located 450 km northwest of Athens, 290 km southwest of Thessaloniki and 80 km east of the port of Igoumenitsa in the Ionian Sea.

The city has both a General and a University Hospital, and is the seat of the University of Ioannina (situated 5 km south of the city, with 17 departments and 20,000 students) as well as several departments of the Τechnological Educational Institute of Epirus , 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 theatre of Dodona.

Of the two name forms in Greek, Ioannina is the formal name in its historically original shape, while the colloquial Jannena or Jannina represents the vernacular tradition of Demotic Greek. The demotic form also corresponds to those in the neighbouring languages (e.g. Albanian: Janinë, Aromanian: Ianina, Turkish: Yanya).





The first indications of human existence in the prefecture of Ioannina are dated back to the Paleolithic period (38.000 years ago). This is testified by the stone tools that were found in the cavern of Kastritsa.

Byzantine period

The city was founded in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It was named Ioannina, probably, meaning "(Town) of John" in Greek, because it was placed under the protection of St. John, in the early Christian period, supposedly in 510 AD. It was first mentioned in 527 AD by the historian Procopius who wrote about the founding of the city, the new Evroia.

However, it was not until 879 AD that the name Ioannina was used for the first time in the Acts of Constantinople. More specifically, the Acts of the 879 Synod, reference one Zacharias, Bishop of Ioannina. During Samuil the town was part of the Bulgarian Empire. The name Ioannina was also mentioned as an Episcopal Seat, under the self-governing (Autocephalous) Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid in 1020 in an imperial document by Basil II.

The city was conquered in 1082 by the Normans under the leadership of Bohemond of Taranto, who repaired the existing city walls in order to repel the offensive of emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Alexius I Comnenus nonetheless recovered the city in 1108.

Despotate of Epirus (1204-1430)

The 'Rule (Orismos) of Sinan Pasa' (9 Oct. 1430, written in Greek) which granted to the citizens a series of privileges.

In the 13th century, the creation of the Despotate of Epirus favoured Ioannina, which became its second most important city, after its capital, Arta. The founder of the Despotate, Michael I Komnenos Doukas settled Byzantine families of refugees, such as the Filanthropinoi, Strategopouloi, etc, who fled Constantinople after the fall of the city to the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade and later to the Bulgarians under Ivan Asen II[2]. These refugee families, together with the local nobility, took over the government of Ioannina in 1318 and broke away from Arta. In the same year, Ioannina became tributary to the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos and a little later to the Serbs, who had, by then, expanded their state over much of Byzantine and Bulgarian territory. The Byzantine emperor granted several privileges (administrative, economic, ecclesiastic) to the inhabitants of Ioannina. These privileges were honoured by the Serbs, too, and as a result Ioannina rose to a great economic and cultural level during the next centuries. In 1337-1340, Andronikos III Palaiologos, aided by John VI Kantakouzenos, dissolved the Despotate of Epirus and Ioannina became once again part of the Byzantine Empire. The city flourished in time, becoming an important financial and cultural centre. During the Byzantine times it was referred to as the "Metropolis of knowledge". In 1367 the Serb Thomas II Preljubović became the new overlord of Ioannina and after him the city surrendered to Esau de' Buondelmonti (1385–1411) and Carlo I Tocco (1411–1430).

Early Ottoman period (1430-1647)

The death of Tocco in 1430 signalled the submission of Ioannina to the Turks who granted several privileges to the town in exchange for its surrender. These were known as the Rule of Sinan Pasha, from the name of Karasinan Pasha who signed the treaty.

In 1611 the city suffered a serious setback as a result of a peasant revolt led by Dionysius the Philosopher (aka Skylosophos), Bishop of Larisa. The Greek inhabitants of the city were unaware of the intent of the fighting as previous successes of Dionysios 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 abolishment 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 Despoton at the Church of Taxiarches 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 a mosque, Aslan djami, today a museum [3].

Ioannina as a center of Greek enlightenment (1647-1830)

Kaplaneios School

Despite that blow, the city managed to recover. Its inhabitants continued their commercial and handicraft activities which allowed them to trade with important European commercial centres, such as Venice and Livorno, where merchants from Ioannina established commercial and banking houses. All four Greek printers in Venice were Ioannites: Nikolaos Glykys (1670), Andreas Ioulianos (17th C), Nikolaos Saros (1687) and Demetrios Theodosiou (1715) [4]. These presses produced significant books historical, theological as well as scientific, among them an Algebra funded by the Ioannitan benefactors Zosimades and books for use in the schools of Ioannina, including the “Arithmetica” of Balanos Vasilopoulos, as well as medical books. At the same time these merchants and enterpreneurs 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 [5]. These merchants were to be major national benefactors.

In the 17th century Ioannina was a thriving city with respect to population and commercial activity as both French and Turkish travellers Jacques Spon and Evliya Çelebi, respectively, attest. Evliya Çelebi visited the city in 1670 and mentioned the presence of 1,900 shops and workshops and 4,000 houses. The great economic prosperity of the city was followed by remarkable cultural activity. During the 17th and 18th centuries, many important schools were established[6]. The Epiphaniou was established in 1647 by a Greek merchant in Venice, Epiphaneios, who had been a student in the ‘’School of Despoton’‘ in Ioannina before its closure. The Epiphaniou taught not only Grammar and Philosophy but also the Physical Sciences. It continued operating until 1742. The School of Gouma or Gioumeios was founded in 1676 by a benefaction from another wealthy Ioannitan Greek from Venice, Emmanuel Goumas. It was rechristened the Balaneios by its Rector, Balanos Vasilopoulos in 1725. Here worked several notable personalities of the Greek Enlightenment, such as Vessarion Makris (1675–1683), the priest Georgios Sougdouris (1683–1714), the priest Anastasios Papavasileiou (1715-?), the monk Methodios Anthrakites (1715 -?), his student Ioannis Vilaras (1771–1823) and Cosmas Balanos (1760–1808). The Balaneios taught Philosophy, Theology and Mathematics. It suffered financially from the capture of Venice by the French and finally stopped its activities when the Sultan’s armies entered Ioannina in 1820. Another school had been founded by a benefaction by yet another wealthy Ioannitan from Venice, Lampros Maroutsis. The Maroutseios 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 Maroutseios also 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. Its first director 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 caused the interest and suspicion of Ali Pasha. The Kaplaneios was burned down as 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 for Greek Enlightenment.

Neofitos Doukas a famous Epirot scholar wrote, with a little exaggeration[7]:

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.

View of the Mosque of Aslan pasha.

In 1789 the city became the centre of the territory ruled by Ali Pasha, an area that included the entire northwestern Greece, Thessaly and parts of Euboea and the Peloponnese. The Muslim-Albanian lord Ali Pasha was one of the most influential personalities of the 18th century. Born in Tepelenë, he maintained diplomatic relations with the most important European leaders and his court became a point of attraction for many of those restless minds who were to evolve into major figures of the Greek Revolution (Georgios Karaiskakis, Odysseas Androutsos, Markos Botsaris and others). The period of his rule coincides with the greatest ever economic and intellectual era of the city. As a couplet has it "The city was first in arms, money and letters". The efforts of Ali Pasha to break away from the Sublime Porte were very alarming. In 1821 (the year the Greek War of Independence began) he was declared guilty of treason and Ioannina was besieged by Turkish troops. Ali Pasha was assassinated in the monastery of St Panteleimon on the island of the lake, where he took refuge while waiting to be pardoned by the Sultan.

Zosimaia School (19th century).


The Zosimaia was the first significant educational foundation after the Greek War of Independence. It was financed by a benefaction from the Zosimas brothers and began operating in 1828 and fully probably from 1833.[8] 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 Ioannitans after 1955.[9] The mansion of Angeliki Papazoglou became a school for girls called Papazogleios as an endowment following her death and operated until 1905. Today it is a public school.

In 1869, a great part of Ioannina was destroyed by fire. Nonetheless, the marketplace was soon reconstructed according to the plans of the German architect Holz and thanks to the personal interest of Ahmet Rashim Pasha, the local governor. The 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.

A woman weeps during the deportation of the Jews of Ioannina on 25 March 1944

Ioannina was incorporated into the Greek state on 21 February 1913 after the Balkan Wars. After the Asia Minor Catastrophe (1922) and the subsequent population exchange, the Turkish element left, and the city received Greek refugees from Asia Minor.

There was a Jewish community living in Ioannina before World War II, referred to as the Romaniote Jews. The Nazis deported the majority of them (1,860) to concentration camps during the final months of German occupation (1944). Almost all of the people deported were murdered on or shortly after 11 April 1944, when the train carrying them reached Auschwitz-Berkinau. Today only around 50 are left.[10][11]


Climate chart to the right is based on data recorded during 1958-1997. Absolute maximum temperature ever recorded was 42.4°C, while absolute minimum ever recorded was -13°C.

Ioannina, Greece
Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: ΕΜΥ


View of Lake Pamvotis with its islet
Main entrance to the castle
Ioannina city clocktower.
  • One of the most notable attractions of Ioannina is the islet on Lake Pamvotis. The island is referred to as "Nisaki" ('Νησάκι, Greek for "little island", literally) by everyone, including its inhabitants. 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, 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 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[3]: the monastery of St Nicholas (Ntiliou) or Strategopoulou from the 11th C, the Monastery of St Nicholas (Spanou) or Philanthropinon from 1292, St John the Baptist (1506 AD), Eleousis (1570 AD), St Panteleimon (17th C) and of the Transfiguration of Christ (1851 AD). The monasteries of Strategopoulou and Philanthropinon functioned also as colleges. In the latter taught Alexios Spanos, the monks Proklos and Comnenos and the Apsarades brothers, Theophanis and Nektarios.[3]. The school continued its activities until 1758, when it was superseded by the newer collegial foundations within the city.

  • 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. The bizarre, maze-like layout of the castle's streets, (many of which lead to dead ends, or just go around in circles) were allegedly designed to confuse pirates of old who breached the castle walls, so that they would get lost within the fortress, and be captured before escaping with their bounty.
  • The castle area. It ιs in the center of the town, and it was the heart of the Despotate of Epirus, and the Ottoman vilayet. The inner castle or citadel bears the name "Its Kale" (from Turkish: "İç/inner", "Kale/castle").
  • The Cathedral of St Athanasius was completed in 1933. It was built on the foundations of the previous Orthodox Cathedral that perished 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, St Nicholas of Kopanon and St 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.
  • 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.). The ornate style of the jewelry and artwork tends to reflect more Turkish sensibilities than Greek ones, likely due to the lengthy Turkish occupation of the area.
  • Ioannina is also one of the few places in Greece where one can purchase a hookah. Native Greeks rarely use hookahs for smoking; they are mainly 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 ones in particular can be quite striking, and are often purchased by Greeks and tourists alike to be used as decor. For purchasers who would like to experiment smoking with a hookah, most merchants carry a variety of flavored tobaccos.
  • Within the castle in the centre of Ioannina city, the mosque of Aslan Pasha houses the Municipal Ethnographic Museum, which includes works of folk art, as well as weapons and swords from the period of the Ottoman occupation of the area.
  • The neighbouring region of Zagori comprises many traditional villages, such as Papingo, Skamneli and Tsepelovo. The region is noted for its scenery and traditional food.
  • 10 km south of the city lies the Paul Vrellis Greek History Museum, a museum with wax statues, like the Madame Tussaud Museum in London, England.

Local products

The region of Ioannina is well known for the production of feta cheese. The area is also famous for its spring water Zagori, which is sold over much of Greece.

Municipal districts

  • Anatoli
  • Marmara
    • Ammos
    • Kardamitsia
    • Kato Marmara
    • Olympiada
  • Neochoropoulo
    • Kato Neochoropoulo
  • Stavraki
    • Penteli
    • Tsiflikopoulo
    • Velisari

Notable Ioannites

Sports teams

Ioannina is home to a major sports team called PAS Giannina, which currently competes in the Super League division. It is regarded as an inspiration for many of old as well as new supporters of the whole periphery of Epirus, even outside Ioannina.


Population data

Population of the Municipality of Ioannina.

Year Population Change Municipal population Change Density
1981 44,829 —/km²
1991 56,699 +11,870/+26.47% 63,725 143.7/km²
2001 61,629 +4,930/+8.66% 70,203 +6,478/+10.17% 182/km²

Population statistics, 1981-2001.


  1. ^ "Δείτε τη Διοικητική Διαίρεση" (in Greek). Hellenic Interior Ministry. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  2. ^ Военна академия "Г. С. Раковски"
  3. ^ a b c Γεώργιος Ι. Σουλιώτης Γιάννινα (Οδηγός Δημοτικού Μουσείου και Πόλεως 1975
  4. ^ Π. ΑΡΑΒΑΝΤΙΝΟΥ: Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Παιδείας παρ΄ Ελλησιν ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ Ε.Η.Μ., 1986
  5. ^ Π. Αραβαντινού Βιογραφική Συλλογή Λογίων της Τουρκοκρατίας ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ Ε.Η.Μ., 1960.
  6. ^ Π. Αραβαντινού Βιογραφική Συλλογή Λογίων της Τουρκοκρατίας ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ Ε.Η.Μ., 1960.
  7. ^ S. Mpettis. Enlightenment. Contribution and study of the Epirot enlightment. Epirotiki Estia. 1967. Pg. 497-499.
  8. ^ Κώστας Βλάχος Η ‘’Ζωσιμαία Σχολή Ιωαννίνων from the archives of the Zosimaia.
  9. ^ “Η Ζωσιμαία Σχολή Ιωαννίνων Ηπειρωτικόν Μέλλον, 15 Dec 1955, issue 97/328.
  10. ^ Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum, The Holocaust in Ioannina URL accessed 5 January 2009
  11. ^ Raptis, Alekos and Tzallas, Thumios, Deportation of Jews of Ioannina, Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum, 28 July 2005 URL accessed 5 January 2009

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Proper noun




  1. A city in Epirus, Greece.


See also

Simple English

Ioannina is a Greek town which is located in the northwest of Greece, in Ipiros district. Ioannina is the capital of Ioannina prefecture and Ipiros periphery. Its population is 67,384 inhabitants. Ioannina is built on the bank of Pamvotida lake. Around Ioannina there are many tall mountains. Beside the town is Mitsikeli mountain. In the east of Ioannina is the Pindos range.

Ioannina's lake

Ioannina is built next to the lake which is named Pamvotida or Ioannina's lake. Ioannina has a small port on the lake which connects Ioannina with the island of the lake. The island of the lake is a small island with very importants monuments and buildings. These buildings have been built during Ottoman period and Byzantine period

Sites of interest

Ioannina has many places of interest. The most interesting place is the castle beside the lake. Many old churches are also very interesting places. There are many interesting sites on the lake's island about which we mentioned above.


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