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Panoramic view of Ioannina
Panoramic view of Ioannina
Seal of Ioannina
Ioannina is located in Greece
Coordinates39°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
Regional unit:Ioannina
Mayor:Filippas Filios
Population statistics (as of 2001)[1]
 - Population:111.745
 - Area:402.0 km2 (155 sq mi)
 - Density:0 /km2 (1 /sq mi)
Municipal unit
 - Population:111.745
 - Area:46.6 km2 (18 sq mi)
 - Density:2 /km2 (6 /sq mi)
Time zone:EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (center):480 m (1,575 ft)
Postal code:45x xx
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Panoramic view of Ioannina
Panoramic view of Ioannina
Seal of Ioannina
Ioannina is located in Greece
Coordinates39°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
Regional unit:Ioannina
Mayor:Filippas Filios
Population statistics (as of 2001)[1]
 - Population:111.745
 - Area:402.0 km2 (155 sq mi)
 - Density:0 /km2 (1 /sq mi)
Municipal unit
 - Population:111.745
 - Area:46.6 km2 (18 sq mi)
 - Density:2 /km2 (6 /sq mi)
Time zone:EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (center):480 m (1,575 ft)
Postal code:45x xx

Ioannina (Greek: Ιωάννινα, Greek pronunciation: [ioˈanina]), often called Jannena (Γιάννενα, Greek pronunciation: [ˈʝanena]) within Greece, is the largest city of Epirus, and also the capital city of Epirus, north-western Greece, with a population of 111.740 (in 2011). It lies at an elevation of approximately 500 meters above sea level, on the western shore of lake Pamvotis (Παμβώτις). It is located within the Ioannina municipality, and is the capital of Ioannina regional unit and the region of Epirus. 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.

Founded by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, Ioannina flourished following the Fourth Crusade, when many wealthy Byzantine families fled there in the early 13th century following the sack of Constantinople. It was the capital of the Despotate of Epirus from 1358 to 1416, before surrendering to the Ottomans in 1430. Between 1430 and 1868 the city was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the 16th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment.[2][3][4][5] Ioannina joined Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars.

The city has both a General and a University Hospital,[6] and is the seat of the University of Ioannina (situated 5 km south of the city, with 17 departments[7] and 20,000 students) as well as several departments of the Τechnological Educational Institute of Epirus,[8] 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 theater of Dodona.



The city's formal name, Ioannina, means "Town of John" in Greek. There are two name forms in Greek, Ioannina being the formal and historical name, while the colloquial and more commonly used Jannena or Jannina (Greek: Γιάννινα) represents the vernacular tradition of Demotic Greek. The demotic form also corresponds to those in the neighbouring languages (e.g. Albanian: Janina or Janinë, Aromanian: Ianina, Turkish: Yanya).



The ancient theatre of Dodona, near Ioannina.

The first indications of human existence in the regional unit 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. The first recorded inhabitants of the area were the Epirote Greek tribe of the Molossians.

Byzantine period

The main entrance to the medieval fortress of the city.

It is unknown when exactly the city was founded, but an unnamed new, "well-fortified" city, recorded by the historian Procopius (De Aedificiis, IV.1.39–42) as having been built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) for the inhabitants of ancient Euroia, is usually identified with Ioannina.[9]

However, it was not until 879 AD that the name Ioannina was used for the first time in the Acts of the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 879, which refer to one Zacharias, Bishop of Ioannine. During the time of Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria, the town was part of the Bulgarian Empire. The name Ioannina was also mentioned as an Episcopal See, under the self-governing (Autocephalous) Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid in 1020 in an imperial document by Basil II (r. 976–1025).

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 Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118). Alexios I nonetheless recovered the city in 1108.

Despotate of Epirus (1204–1430)

The Despotate of Epirus (in green) from 1230 to 1251.
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 favored Ioannina, which became its second most important city after its capital, Arta, and the capital of a thema of Ioannina.[9] The founder of the Despotate, Michael I Komnenos Doukas settled refugee noble Byzantine families, such as the Philanthropenoi, Strategopouloi, Dragovitsoi, Zervoi, etc., who fled Constantinople after the fall of the city to the Fourth Crusade.[citation needed] 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 (r. 1282–1328). The city was elevated to a metropolitan bishopric, and in 1319 Andronikos II issued a chrysobull conceding wide-ranging autonomy and various privileges and exemptions on its inhabitants.[9]

In 1337–1340, Andronikos III Palaiologos (r. 1328–1341), aided by John Kantakouzenos, dissolved the Despotate of Epirus and Ioannina became once again part of the Byzantine Empire. A few years later however it fell to the Serbs, who had, by then, expanded their state over much of Byzantine and Bulgarian territory to form the Serbian Empire. The city's privileges were also honored by the Serbs, and as a result Ioannina rose to economic and cultural prominence over the next century. The city flourished, becoming an important financial and cultural center. During the Byzantine times it was referred to as the "metropolis of knowledge".

The city was the capital of the restored Despotate of Epirus from 1358 to 1416. In 1366/67 the Serb Thomas II Preljubović became the new overlord of Ioannina, under whose rule the city stood against Albanian attacks. After Preljubović's death in 1384, the city surrendered to Esau de' Buondelmonti (1385–1411) and Carlo I Tocco (1411–1430).[10]

Early Ottoman period (1430–1647)

The death of Tocco in 1430 signaled the submission of Ioannina to the Ottoman 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 Kara Sinan Pasha, who signed the treaty. Ioannina became a seat of the Ottoman Sanjak of Ioannina.

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 abolition 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 Camii, today a museum.[11]

Center of Greek Enlightenment (1647–1830)

A depiction of Zosimaia School (19th century).

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 centers, such as Venice and Livorno, where merchants from Ioannina established commercial and banking houses. The first three Greek owned printing presses that were operating in Venice and published thousands of books for the Ottoman ruled Greek people were established by members of the Ioannite diaspora: Nikolaos Glykys (1670), Nikolaos Sarros (1687) and Dimitrios Theodosiou (1755).[12] Ioannina was the centre through which the books printed on these presses were channelled into Greece.[13] These were significant historical, theological as well as scientific works, including an algebra book funded by the Zosimades family of Ioannitan benefactors, books for use in the schools of Ioannina such as the Arithmetica of Balanos Vasilopoulos, as well as 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. 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 travelers 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.[14] The Epiphaniou was founded in 1647 by a Greek merchant in Venice, Epiphaneios Igoumenos.[15] The School of Gouma or Gioumeios was founded in 1676 by a benefaction from another wealthy Ioannitan Greek from Venice, Emmanuel Goumas. It was renamed to Balaneios by its Rector, Balanos Vasilopoulos in 1725. Here worked several notable personalities of the Greek Enlightenment, such as Bessarion Makris, the priests Georgios Sougdouris (1685/7–1725) and Anastasios Papavasileiou (1715-?), monk Methodios Anthrakites, his student Ioannis Vilaras and Kosmas Balanos. The Balaneios taught Philosophy, Theology and Mathematics. It suffered financially from the capture of Venice by the French and finally stopped in 1820. The school's library that hosted several manuscripts and epigramms was also burned the same year due to Ali Pasha's activities.[16] Another school founded by a benefaction by merchants of the Maroutsis family, which were also active Venice. The Maroutsaia School 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 Maroutsaia 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 schoolmaster, 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 the Greek Enlightenment. Neophytos Doukas a famous Epirote scholar wrote, with a little exaggeration[17]:

During the 18th century, every author of the Greek world, was either from Ioannina or was a graduate of one of the city's schools.

In 1789 the city became the center of the territory ruled by Ali Pasha, an area that included the entire northwestern Greece, Thessaly and parts of Euboea and the Peloponnese. The Ottoman-Albanian lord Ali Pasha was one of the most influential personalities of the region in the 18th and 19th century. Born in Tepelenë, he maintained diplomatic relations with the most important European leaders of the time and his court became a point of attraction for many of those restless minds who would become major figures of the Greek Revolution (Georgios Karaiskakis, Odysseas Androutsos, Markos Botsaris and others). Although during this time Ali Pasha committed a number of atrocities against the Greek population of Ioannina, culminating with the sewing up of local women in sacks and drowning them in the nearby lake,[18] this 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 alarmed the Ottoman government, and in 1820 (the year before the Greek War of Independence began) he was declared guilty of treason and Ioannina was besieged by Turkish troops. Ali Pasha was assassinated in 1822 in the monastery of St Panteleimon on the island of the lake, where he took refuge while waiting to be pardoned by Sultan Mahmud II.

Period 1830–1943

Naval gun of 1820 from Ioannina's fortress (used during the Greek War of Independence)
Greek lithography showing the surrender of Ioannina by Essat Pasha to the Greek Crown Prince future Constantine I during the First Balkan War
The deportation of the Jews of Ioannina on 25 March 1944.

The Zosimaia was the first significant educational foundation after the outbreak Greek War of Independence (1828). It was financed by a benefaction from the Zosimas brothers and began operating in 1828 and fully probably from 1833.[19] 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.[20] 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. During the spring of 1877 the Albanian leaders organized a congress in the city regarding the decisions of the Constantinople Conference and sent a memorandum to the Ottoman government demanding among others the establishment of Albanian language schools.[21][22] In May 1877 the Albanians of the city led by Abdyl Frashëri formed the Albanian Committee of Janina, an organization with the aim of defending Albanian rights.[23] On the other hand, the Greek population of Ioannina region authorized a committee in order to present to the European governments their wish for union with Greece and Dimitrios Chasiotis, a notable member of this committee, published a memorandum in Paris in 1879.[24]

Ioannina was incorporated into the Greek state on 21 February 1913 after the Battle of Bizani in 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.

Jewish community

According to oral folklore Jewish communities inhabited the site of the modern city as early as 70 AD. According to Greek scholar P. Aravantinos a synagogue destroyed in the 18th century bore an inscription, which dated its foundation in the late 9th century AD.[25] The existing synagogue is located in the old fortified part of the city known as "Kastro", at 16 Ioustinianou street. Its name means "the Old Synagogue". It was constructed in 1829. Its architecture is typical of the Ottoman era, a large building made of stone. The interior of the synagogue is laid out in the Romaniote way: the Bimah (where the Torah scrolls are read out during service) is on a raised dais on the western wall, the Aron haKodesh (where the Torah scrolls are kept) is on the eastern wall and at the middle there is a wide interior aisle. The names of the Ioanniote Jews who were killed in the Holocaust are engraved in stone on the walls of the synagogue.

There was a Romaniote Jewish community living in Ioannina before World War II. The Nazis deported the majority of them (1,860) to concentration camps during the final months of German occupation in 1944.[26] Almost all of the people deported were murdered on or shortly after 11 April 1944, when the train carrying them reached Auschwitz-Birkenau. Today the remaining community has withered to a number of 50 mostly elderly people.[27][28] The Kehila Kedosha Yashan Synagogue remains locked, only opened for visitors on request. Immigrant Romaniotes return every summer and open the old synagogue. The last time a Bar Mitzvah (the Jewish ritual for celebrating the coming of age of a child) was held in the synagogue was in 2000, and was an exceptional event for the community.[1]


Ioannina has a Mediterranean climate tempered by its inland location and elevation. Summers are typically hot and dry, while winters are wet and colder than on the coast. Ioannina is the wettest city in Greece. The absolute maximum temperature ever recorded was 42.4°C, while the absolute minimum ever recorded was −13°C.[29]

Climate data for Ioannina
Average high °C (°F)10.1
Daily mean °C (°F)4.7
Average low °C (°F)0.2
Precipitation mm (inches)124.2
Avg. precipitation days13.312.412.812.611.
Source: Greek National Weather Service [2]

Landmarks and sights

A street in Ioannina
View of Lake Pamvotis with its islet
Church of the Assumption, Pamvotis island
Clocktower of Ioannina
A street in the city of Ioannina at night

Ioannina has a wealth of attractions and museums. Given the wide dispersal of sights and the city's traffic difficulties, a visitor would find it difficult to visit them all. The most notable attractions are the following:

Local products

Feta cheese with olives.


Ipirotikos Agon is a locally published newspaper.


The present municipality Ioannina was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 6 former municipalities, that became municipal units (constituent communities in brackets):[32]

Notable Ioannites

Sports teams

The emblem of PAS Giannina F.C..

Ioannina is home to a major sports team called PAS Giannina, which currently promoted to Superleague. Its an inspiration for many of old as well as new supporters of the whole region of Epirus, even outside Ioannina.


Egnatia Odos near Ioannina.

Population data

Population of the Municipality of Ioannina.

YearTown populationMunicipality population

Population statistics, 1981–2001.

Sister cities


  1. ^ Detailed census results 2001 PDF (39 MB) (Greek) (English)
  2. ^ Sakellariou M. V.. Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotikē Athēnōn, 1997, ISBN 978-960-213-371-2 p. 268
  3. ^ Fleming Katherine Elizabeth. The Muslim Bonaparte: diplomacy and orientalism in Ali Pasha's Greece. Princeton University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-691-00194-4. p. 63-66
  4. ^ The Era of Enlightenment (late 7th century-1821). Eθνικό Kέντρο Bιβλίου, p. 13
  5. ^ Υπουργείο Εσωτερικών, Αποκέντρωσης και Ηλεκρονικής Διακυβέρνησης Περιφέρεια Ηπείρου: "Στη δεκαετία του 1790 ο νεοελληνικός διαφωτισμός έφθασε στο κορύφωμά του. ΦορέαA_1του πνεύματος στα Ιωάννινα είναι ο Αθανάσιος ΨαλίδαA_."
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, p. 1006, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
  10. ^ Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, pp. 445, 1006, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
  11. ^ a b c Γεώργιος Ι. Σουλιώτης Γιάννινα (Οδηγός Δημοτικού Μουσείου και Πόλεως 1975
  12. ^ Sakellariou 1997, p. 261
  13. ^ Sakellariou 1997, p. 261
  14. ^ Π. Αραβαντινού, Βιογραφική Συλλογή Λογίων της Τουρκοκρατίας, Εκδόσεις Ε.Η.Μ., 1960.
  15. ^ Sakellariou 1997, p. 268
  16. ^ Bruce, Merry (2004). Encyclopedia of modern Greek literature. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 11. ISBN 978-0-313-30813-0. "...were destroyed in this vast act of arson by Ali"
  17. ^ S. Mpettis, Enlightenment. Contribution and study of the Epirote enlightment. Epirotiki Estia, 1967, pg. 497–499.
  18. ^ Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond. Collected Studies: Alexander and his successors in Macedonia. A.M. Hakkert, 1993, p. 404.
  19. ^ Κώστας Βλάχος Η., "Ζωσιμαία Σχολή Ιωαννίνων" from the archives of the Zosimaia.
  20. ^ “Η Ζωσιμαία Σχολή Ιωαννίνων Ηπειρωτικόν Μέλλον, 15 Dec 1955, issue 97/328.
  21. ^ Somel, Selçuk Akşin (2001). The modernization of public education in the Ottoman Empire, 1839–1908: Islamization, autocracy, and discipline. BRILL. p. 209. ISBN 978-90-04-11903-1. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  22. ^ Skendi, Stavro (1967). The Albanian national awakening, 1878–1912. Princeton University Press. p. 41. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  23. ^ Trencsényi, Balázs; Kopeček, Michal (2006). Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945): texts and commentaries. Late Enlightenment – Emergence of the Modern National Idea. 1. Central European University Press. p. 348. ISBN 963-7326-52-9.
  24. ^ Sakellariou M. V.. Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotikē Athēnōn, 1997, ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 293
  25. ^ Ellis, Steven G.; Klusáková, Lud'a (2007). Imagining frontiers, contesting identities. Edizioni Plus. p. 148. ISBN 978-88-8492-466-7. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  26. ^ An interview with the Holocaust survivor Artemis Batis from Ioannina
  27. ^ Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum, The Holocaust in Ioannina URL accessed 5 January 2009
  28. ^ Raptis, Alekos and Tzallas, Thumios, Deportation of Jews of Ioannina, Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum, 28 July 2005 URL accessed 5 January 2009
  29. ^ Greek National Weather Service
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Harry Gouvas: "Ioannina Cultural Sights", Newspaper "Topiki Phoni", Preveza, 2006
  31. ^ "Views of Greece". Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  32. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  33. ^ Sakellariou 1997, p. 410
  34. ^ Özdalga, Elisabeth (2005). Late Ottoman society: the intellectual legacy. Psychology Press. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-415-34164-6. Retrieved 19 November 2010.


External links