Ioannina (Greek: Ιωάννινα, often Γιάννενα Giannena, Yiannena or Γιάννινα Giannina, Yiannina); is a city in Epirus, north-western Greece, with a population of approximately 100,000. It lies at an elevation of 600 metres above sea level. It is the capital of Ioannina prefecture and of Epirus. The city lies on the western side of Lake Pamvotis (Greek: Παμβώτιδα).
The city has a General and a University Hospital; a University named University of Ioannina (5 km south of the city) with 16 departments and 13,000 students; as well as several departments of the Τechnological Educational Institute of Epirus, the headquarters of which are located in Arta.
The city is associated with Ali Pasha, the Ottoman-appointed ruler of Albania, Macedonia and Thrace, who was killed in 1822 by the Sultan's agents in the Moni Panteleimonos on the island at the center of Lake Pamvotis. The monastery (which was once Ali-Pasha's secret hideout) is now a museum containing paintings, information, and even re-creations of Ali-Pasha's living quarters on his island hideaway. 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. (About once every half hour, or more, in the spring and summer, much less in the winter.) 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. Some of the people of Ioannina even choose to make the tiny island their yearlong home, with simple rowboats moored outside their homes, or in small marines, just in case they need to get to Ioannina proper when the motorboats are not running.
Ioannina is famous for its spring water Zagori which is sold over much of Greece.
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. Embarking into the castle walls is an adventure unto itself...just make sure you trace your steps so you don't get lost. The bizarre layout of the castle's streets, with roads going in circles or leading to dead ends was designed to confuse pirates of old who breached the castle walls, so that they would get lost within the fortress, and hopefully be captured before escaping with their bounty. (Most of the time, it did, in fact, work.) There are still some Greeks today who get a lost trying to exit the fortress, even if they've been there before...that's how confounding the street design is. So, if you decide to visit the fortress, make sure you have no deadlines to meet, and plenty of time on hand in case you get lost...because you probably will!
The city's logo is orange and white with an the omikro, (a letter of the Greek alphabet) (it corresponds with the English letter "o") and portrays an orange drop on the top.
Ioannina is mentioned in the book The Count of Monte Cristo.
- Ioannina is famous throughout Greece for its silverwork, with many shops selling beautiful silver jewelry and decor (serving trays, recreations of shields and swords, trinkets, etc.) at quite reasonable prices. The ornate style of the jewelry and artwork reflects more Turkish, rather than Greek, sensibilities, due to the long Turkish occupation of the area. Ioannina is also one of the few places in Greece where one can purchase a hookah, a water-filled device which can be packed with ordinary or flavored tobaccos, and were very popular with the Ottomans during their occupation of the region. Hardly any Greeks smoke using hookahs; they are sold mainly to tourists as novelty items. The hookahs vary in size from tiny to enormous (sometimes 4-5 ft. tall) and are often quite attractive, even as a piece of decor if the purchaser chooses not to actually smoke out of one, or just don't smoke, period. For those who would like to experiment smoking with a hookah, most hookah merchants carry a wide variety of various flavored 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 island in lake Pamvotis has a traditional settlement. The monastery where Ali Pasha was killed is now a museum.
Ioannina has a major sport team and is named PAS Giannina FC.