Ioannina prefecture is located at the northwest far end of Greece and it is characterized by its extremely beautiful natural environment. It is mainly a mountainous prefecture with forests, picturesque lakes, rivers, traditional villages, rocky bridges, abundant in flora and fauna. At the region are located many important Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. Sport and alternative tourism is quite developed in balance with the rich cultural heritage and local tradition. Practice sports as mountain hiking, skiing, rafting, canyoning, climbing etc.
Ioannina is the capital of the prefecture as well as administrative and financial centre of Epirus, built at the shores of the lake Pamvotida, a beautiful modern town that combines the historic tradition with the legends. The first ever reference of the capital is dated back to 9th century using the name Episkopi. During the Ottoman Empire and especially at the era of Ali Pasha, Ioannina prospered financially and intellectually. The town’s history is reflected to the Castle, the churches, the mosques, the mansions and the Island with the amazing monasteries.
The region is inhabited since prehistoric times. In various spots have been found tombs and remains of settlements dated back to the Bronze Age until the Hellenistic period that demonstrate the importance of the region in the antiquity. At that time thrived the cities Passaron and Tekmon, the place where was situated the sanctuary of Dodoni, an important religious centre of Greek range. During the reign of Pyrrhus (4th-3rd century B.C.) the region entered into the phase of its maximum prosperity. In the 2nd century B.C. the Romans destroyed most of the monuments while in the Byzantine Ages are founded many monasteries and churches.
During the Ottoman Occupation, the region gets into a period of great prosperity. Ioannina became an important commercial centre, while the special privileges given to its habitants lead to a great financial and intellectual heyday. The merchants transacted in Greece and abroad. From that era is known the story of Ali Pasha and the story of the drawing of Kyra Frosini in the lake. In 1913 the region of Ioannina became a part of the Greek state and during the Greco-Italian War in its mountains the Greek warriors made history with its feats.
In Ioannina city
- The Castle. Into the castle stand two citadels. Into the first one were built the mansions of the Byzantine sovereign and later at the top was built the Aslan Pasha mosque that is saved until nowadays. The other one is called Its Kale and houses in its centre the Byzantine Museum. Inside the castle stand many buildings as the Turkish Library, the Hebrew Synagogue, the Fethiye Mosque, Aslan Pasha Mosque, the tomb of Ali Pasha, as well as the Voimoundos Tower, dated back to 11th century, and Thomas’ tower.
- The Lake of Ioannina (Pamvotida) or Lake of Kyra Frosini and inside it the Island of rich historic tradition. Over the island are saved monasteries with amazing murals dated back to Byzantium and Tourkokratia.
- The monasteries of Aghios Panteleimon dated back to the 15th century and Aghios Nikolaos of Philanthropenoi with the amazing murals
In the Prefecture
- The archaeological site of Dodoni that used to be a religious center in antiquity. Its sanctuary was known as its priests were giving the predictions. During the reign of Pyrrhus (3rd century) were built and saved until nowadays the ancient theatre with a capacity of 17.000, ruins of Bouleuterion and the acropolis.
- The cave of Perama, inside the hill of Goritsa, that was discovered accidentally by the farmers in 1940. Its interior is characterized by maze routes of stalagmites and stalactites.
- Zagorochoria, a region of amazing beauty that is located between Konitsa and Metsovo. The area is alpine of imposing mountains, dense forests of pine trees, firs, rivers, torrents, small lakes with crystal waters, picturesque rocky bridges, traditional villages with mansions and old churches. The region is divided into the east, central and west Zagori, an ideal destination for the nature lovers.
- The Monastery of Vellas at Kalpaki dated back to the 11th century that was named after the homonymous town that used to stand there.
- The Wax Museum of Greek History by Paul Vrellis at Bizani
- At Greveniti, the monastery of Voutsas or Panagia Pogoniotissa that was built by the emperor Constantine the Bearded (Contastinus Pogonatos) in 672 with the notable murals dated back to 17th century.
- At Vovousa the single-arched bridge that was built in 1743
- At Aristi, the Monastery of Pangia Spileotissa dated back to 17th century
- The settlements Papingo and Mikro Papingo at Zagorochoria inside the amazing natural landscapes, the stone built houses, the paved alleys and the fountains with the crystal clear waters.
- Vikos-Aoos National Park that includes the ravines of Vikos and Aoos, the mountain range of Tymfi, Drakolimni, a region abundant in flora, fauna with rare plant and animal species.
- At Vitsa, the ancient settlement
- The church of Aghios Nikolaos at Vitsa that was built in 1612 with the wooden carved iconostasis.
- At Monodendri the Monstery of Aghia Paraskevi dated back to 1413-14 and the church of Aghios Minas (17th century).
- The stone bridge at Konitsa
- The mansions of Hussein Sisko and Hamko, mother of Ali Pasha.
- The monastery of Stomio dated back to 1774 that was named after the mouth of Aoos ravine where is located.
- The Byzantine Monastery of Molyvdoskepastos
- The environmental park of Bourazani with deer, roes, wild boars and other animals in an idyllic region
- At Plaghia, Zermas Monastery with the beautiful murals.
- At the picturesque Metsovo, known for its livestock products, in the range of Pindus, the church of Aghia Paraskevi, the monasteries of Panagia and Aghios Nikolaos.
- At Metsovo, the Averoff Gallery with artworks of the most important Greek artists of the 19th and 20th century.
- Pindus National Park (Valia-Kalda) with rich fauna and flora. It has been characterized as one of 12 most sensitive regions in the world. At Valia Kalda can be found rare mammals and birds.
- Tsoukas Monastery at Elliniko, built on the top of a hill. It was founded by the emperor Isaac II Angelos in 1190 but it was renovated and adorned with murals in the 18th century.
- At Zitsa, the Monastery of Pateres, dedicated to The Dormition of the Mother of God, founded in 16th century.
- At Zitsa, The Monastery of Prophet Elias, dated back to 17th century where was accommodated Lord Byron
- Theogefyro (the bridge of god), at Zitsa, a natural bridge that unites the two shores of the river Kalama
- The War Museum of Kalpaki with exhibits from the Greco-Italian Wars in 1940.
From Thessaloniki and Athens
Ioannina KTEL (Public Bus Service)
0030 26510 27442
Macedonia KTEL (Public Bus Service)
Macedonia Public Bus Service
0030 2310 595442
Athens KTEL (Public Bus Service) – Kifisos station
0030 210 5129363
Ioannina airport “King Pyrros” 0030 26510 83600
Distance: 5 km from Ioannina city
Area: 4.990 τ.χλμ.
Ioannina prefecture administratively belongs to the Region of Epirus.