Arriving in Epirus and the city of Ioannina, there is so much to see and do, but much more to learn about the ‘Infinite Country’, as Epirus was called in ancient times.
Ioannina is a city with a vibrant history and a centuries-old cultural heritage, which becomes immediately apparent once you take a walk around the centre of the town. This is a place where fairy tales are born and history and legend are inextricably entangled! In order to get a taste of the city’s history, you are definitely going to need a full day of tours and visits to the museums and remarkable historical sites. From wherever you start, you will not need more than half an hour’s drive to reach the centre of Ioannina. Tip: Try getting there reasonably early in the morning to make sure you have more time to explore, although not before 9am, since that’s when most of the museums in the city open their doors.
The recommended starting point is the Castle of Ioannina, a castle city still very much alive even today. There are picturesque streets to walk and two citadels to explore, as well as 5 museums to visit, including the Byzantine Museum, and the latest crowning acquisition of the city, the Silversmiths Museum, located in the western bastion of southeast citadel (Its Kale), which opened its doors in September 2016.
You will definitely need about 4 hours to explore the interior of the castle fully, and you’ll also have the opportunity to admire cobbled streets, flower-filled courtyards, typically traditional Ioannina houses renovated with care by the owners, all of which successfully maintain the fairytale setting.Taking a pause, you can sit and enjoy traditional Greek coffee and ‘loukoumi’ (Turkish delight) at the Its Kale citadel or in one of the small tasteful shops there, and you’ll feel a part of its history.
Completing your tour of the castle and if you have the energy, you can continue on to little island in the middle of Lake Pamvotida. Make your way down to the pier and board one of the boats. In less than 15 minutes, you’ll be on the island.For the local people, the lake is just the Lake and the island is just the Island. Plain and simple, no name. Just a capital letter!
On the island, you’ll discover more of the religious history of the region and beyond. You can visit the most important monastery, the Agios Nikolaos Monastery of Philanthropenoi, but also that of Agio Panteleimon, the final resting place of Ali Pasha. Altogether there are seven monasteries with a great history, but unfortunately not all of them are open to the public. You’ll certainly need at least 2 hours to get to know the Island, and if you have the appetite, you can extend your stay a little in order to taste frog legs and eel, for which the Lake is known. The boats connecting the city of Ioannina with the island run every half hour from early morning until late at night during the summer months.
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Ioanniton Municipality Castle & Island of Ioannina
Arriving in Epirus and the city of Ioannina, there is so much to see and do, but much more to lea...