The castle of Ioannina
The Castle of Ioannina is the city’s reference point. The present form due to Ali Pasha, who rebuilt the castle in 1815 nearly from scratch.
Access to the castle until 1913, was only possible if the internal lowered the connecting staircase that connected the outside world with its castle and that’s because the lake and the water moat touching the walls.
From the main gate, where the Turks hanged the martyr George, patron of Ioannina, we enter the castle. The portal is at the end of the street Averof.
Above the main gate discern the coat of arms of Ali Pasha. On the right side, rises above the wall the tower built during the Turkish occupation of the “Venetian” clock of the castle. The clock that disabling the Italians in 1917 and recently replaced by Ioannina.
The narrow streets lead us to the hill to the mosque of Aslan Pasha in northern citadel. Built in 1618 by the homonymous Pasha to commemorate the crash of the revolution of Dionysios Philosopher (1611) .Despozei in perhaps the most beautiful part of town overlooking the lake, the island and the city itself. In the place that occupies today the mosque, it was the church of St. John the precursor destroyed in 1611. Today the site serves as the Municipal Museum. Right and left, as it begins the uphill road, we find many buildings of Turkish rule.
On the right there are the Turkish baths (hamam), built with unique architecture (cross-shaped, with vaulted dome). They included changing rooms, bath rooms, and retreat. The baths were communication space, especially for women, for which planned and special preparation bath.
On the left our known Soufari Saray. It was storey building with a stone exterior staircase and wooden roof. This is the camp of Ali Pasha, where trained and protagonists of ’21 (Od. Androutsos Karaiskaki M. Botsaris Ath. Diakos, etc.).
The Turkish library built in the early 19th century. Includes room with square hallway and two rooms on the edges. It is exquisite art the vaulted roofs, survives intact, not only rescued books or manuscripts.
Leaving the north acropolis, we go inside the fortress, the Kale. Before we get to this place, we find the tree where martyred leader klephts Katsandonis, 1807.
The portal is kept in very good condition and is commanding. Above the arch of the two lions were embossed with the word “Aslan” stolen.
At the far left, rises the Fethiye Mosque which was built in 1618 in place of the Christian church of the Archangel Michael.Next to the mosque, stands the marble base of the family tomb of Ali Pasha. It only buried the headless body and his wife Emine.
His head was buried in Istanbul together with his children, Mukhtar, Veli, and Mehmet Salih, executed by order of the sultan. The nice iron railing stole possession. In the place where the Byzantine museum operates since 1995, was the Saray Ali Pasha, which was built in 1789 and was an administrative center, which burnt down in 1870.
Right from the Byzantine museum are the remains of the harem of Ali Pasha. Tower Voimoundos (bastion) is one of the few medieval buildings that survived. It bears the name of Norman conqueror of Ioannina (1082 AD). During the Turkish housed financial services in South of Ioannina Castle Citadel near the tower Voimoundos and in contact with the church of St. Anargyroi preserved historical gunpowder warehouses of Ali Pasha.
The island in the Pamvotida lake is an inseparable part of the history of Ioannina: it is related with the history and the death of Ali Pasha.
There are evidence already, from the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine period, of organized living on the island based on the eight monastery compounds.
The monastery Saint Nicholaos Philanthropinon (1292), Saint Nicholaos, also Diliou or Stratigopoulou, monastery Eleousis or Saint Nicholaos Goumaton (15th century), monastery of Metamorphosis Sotiros, compounds that are located on the north west side of the island and monastery Profiti Elia on the top of the hill, the monastery Kimiseos Theotokou and at last the monastery Saint Panteleimon. In the cells of this last monastery still exist the bulletholes that were fired against Ali Pasha when he tried to rescue himself from the siege by Hoursit Pasha.
In these monasteries and especially in the monastery of Saint Nicholaos Philanthropinon are being preserved wall paintings of splended art. It is remarkable that in the above monastery there are full body wallpaintings of seven ancient philosophers as Plato, Solon, Aristotelis, Plutarch, Thoukididis, Apollonius and Hilon.
Today the island is inhabited, which is seldom phenomenon worldwide, by 100 families who are all occupied with tourism and fishing.
It’s connected with the city of Ioannina by small boats which cross every half hour in the summer and every hour in winter. On the island there are shops with folk art items and restaurants which serve fishes, eels, frog-legs e.t.c. It represents an important pole of touristic development of Ioannina.
The cave of Perama
One of the most important caves in the world is located just 4km away from the centre of Ioannina. The existence of the cave was already known since the start of the last century, in 1940 it was used as a shelter by the people during the Italian bombardisms.
In 1945 there was the first scientific mapping by the known couple of caveologists Anna and Ioannis Petrochilou who had explored other caves around Greece.
It belongs to the horizontal caves with a length of about, 1km.The formings of stalagmites and stalactites, the natural richness and combination of colors create a landscape of amazing natural beauty.
Transportation: City bus, route Ioannina-Perama with starting point next to the city-clock.
Visiting hours: 8:00am-19:00pm daily.
Geographically the Vikos Gorge located in the area of Zagori and extends between the villages Tsepelovo and Klidonia from Zagori until shortly before Konitsa. Also close to the canyon are the villages: Kapesovo, Cocoon, Gardens, Vradeto, Monodendri, Aristi, etc.
The Vikos Gorge has a total length of 12 km and through the flows the river Voidomatis. The maximum height of the gorge is 1100 meters, while the average exposure is approximately 200 meters. At the narrowest point of the gorge has a width (opening) just 2 meters.
In the middle of the gorge joins another great ravine in the region, Mega Lakos, which starts from the mountains of Tymfi and ends in the ravine of Vikos.
The area boasts important flora and fauna. The flora of the area includes rare herbs, many of which have medicinal properties. The area also five endemic species which are found nowhere else in the world.
The fauna includes many rare species (eg dunlin, chionotsichla, mafrotsiklitara, golden eagle, osprey, etc.). Also, the region is home to species such as wild boar, wild goat, deer, the polecat, the bear, etc. For this reason, since 1973, has been designated a National Park and protected. The area of the gorge, is the core of the National Park Vikos Aoos.
You can enjoy the view of the gorge from the villages Monodendri(in Oxia) near Vradeto (instead Beloi) and the village of Vikos. The view of the canyon of these points is literally breathtaking and makes the visitor to admire the grandeur of wild nature Continental.
Visitors can also descend the ravine from many villages of Zagoria and enjoy the way to marked trails that cross the region. Crossing the entire gorge takes about 6 hours and offers visitors the opportunity to experience the best flora and fauna.