Ioannina (or Jannena) in the north-western Greece, is situated about half a kilometre above sea level by the lake Pamvotis. The road leading to it, through the Katara (bad spell) Pass, was pretty dangerous in winter until recently, when a tunnel was built to bypass it. However, it remains one of the most scenic drives in Greece.
Ioannina was founded by Justinian the Byzantine and became the refuge of wealthy Constantinople refugees from the Ottomans, until it too surrendered in the early 15th century. Eventually Ioannina joined Greece after the Balkan wars in 1913. It’s one of the few Greek cities with a unique emblem.
Ioannina’s weather can be pretty harsh for Greece. The country’s wettest city, winter temperatures can drop below −10°C. However, the summers are generally cooler than the rest of the country, making it a ‘cool’ holiday destination for Greek connoisseurs.
Places to visit in Ioannina include the National Archaeological Museum with its centuries-spanning exhibits from the Epirus region at Litharitsia Castle Square, the Epirus Despotate and Ottoman stronghold Ioannina Castle with its charming citadel in the town centre and the Fethiye and Aslan Pasha Ottoman Mosques. The latter now houses the three local nationalities/faiths (Muslims, Christians and Jews) Municipal Ethnographic Museum.
The Islet on lake Pamvotis (Nisaki), reached by a 15 minute sail, with its peaceful Agios Panteleimon monastery/museum and charming tavernas is a must-visit. There are also another five historic monasteries on the islet, all associated with education, resistance against the Ottoman Turks and Byzantine tradition.
Ioannina’s museums include the Byzantine Museum built on a Turkish palace ruin and the Museum of Fotis Rapakousis. Unfortunately, the Old Ottoman Library building is in ruins.
The Historic Centre of Ioannina and Arcade Loulis display traditional wares, representative of Ioannina’s three main populations. Finally, the Municipal Gallery in the neoclassical Pyrsinela building contains a vast and very intricate collection of arts and crafts of the locality, ranging from the modern to ancient.
Posted : Thursday, August 9th, 2012 at 10:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save