Discover the historic and beautiful city of Ioannina with the Grand Serai Congress & Spa proposals
The city was named Ioannina, and put under the patronage of St. John, in the early Christian period, supposedly in 510 AD. The city was founded in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It was first mentioned in 527 AD by the historian Prokopios who wrote about the founding of the city, the new Evroia.
SIGHTS OF INTEREST
One of the most notable attractions of Ioannina is the islet on Lake Pamvotis. 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.
Tourists can visit the Moni Panteleimonos monastery (Ali Pasha's refuge while waiting to be pardoned by the Sultan) which has been converted into a museum containing information and paintings, as well as re-creations of Ali-Pasha's lounging and living quarters. The museum is not the only attraction on the island: there are many gift-shops, tavernas, churches and bakeries on the island's quaint, winding streets.
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 layout of the castle's streets, which either go around in circles or lead to dead ends, were supposedly designed to confuse pirates who breached the castle walls, so that they would get lost within the fortress, and be captured before escaping with their bounty.
Ioannina is famous throughout Greece for its silverwork, with many shops selling silver jewellery and décor (serving trays, recreations of shields and swords, trinkets, etc.). The ornate style of the jewellery and artwork reflects more Turkish, rather than Greek, sensibilities, 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. Greeks rarely use hookahs; they are mainly sold to tourists as novelty items and vary in size from tiny to quite large (some are 4-5 ft. tall.) The larger ones in particular can be quite attractive and are often purchased by Greeks and tourists alike to be used as décor. For those who would like to experiment smoking with a hookah, most hookah merchants carry a variety of flavoured tobaccos.
Within the castle in the centre of Ioannina city, the mosque of Aslan Pasha houses the Municipal History 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 Monodendri. The region is noted for its scenery and traditional food.