In the past the founding of Ioannina has traditionally been attributed to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, but new archaeological research has uncovered evidence of prior Hellenistic settlements in the same area that point to its earlier existence. The settlement flourished in the late Byzantine period (XIII-XV centuries). Ioannina became part of the Despotate of Epirus following the Fourth Crusade. Many rich Byzantine families fled there following the sacking of Constantinople, in no small part due to the city’s great prosperity and considerable autonomy. In 1430 Ioannina surrendered to the Ottomans and until 1868 it was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the XVIII-XIX centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment. In 1913 Ioannina was ceded to Greece following the Balkan Wars.
During World War II in 1940 the capture of Ioannina became one of the major aims of the Italian Army, but the Greek defense in Kalpaki pushed back the invading Italians. The city was intensively bombed by the German forces in April 1941 even during the negotiations that led to the capitulation of the Greek army. During the subsequent Axis occupation of Greece, the Jewish community in Ioannina was rounded up by the Germans in 1944.
In 1970 the University of Ioannina was funded, until then, higher education faculties in the city had been part of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Ioannina makes up one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the Epirus region. Its capital is the city of Ioannina. It is the largest regional unit in Epirus, and one of the largest regional units of Greece, with population of 130,000 people.
Ioannina is responsible for 56,5% of the total GDP of the Region of Epirus. For the Municipality of Ioannina, out of the total Economically Active Population 42.781 persons declared they are “employed” and 8.231 persons declared they are “unemployed”, According to the Greek Statistic Agency in 2011.
The modern development of Ioannina is marked by its advancement in arts, literature, trade and tourism and is supported by the development of the regional infrastructure including Ioannina National Airport (King Pyrrhus), the Water Sports Center, the motorways and the city’s hospitals. The University of Ioannina, with its extensive research and technological activity, and the Technological Institute of Education (Τ.Ε.Ι.) of Epirus.
Ioannina is famous across Greece for its silverwork, with a plethora of shops selling silver jewellery, bronzeware and decorative items.
Isle of Lake Pamvotis
The island is one of the most notable attractions in Ioannina and it is most often known as the Island of Ioannina. By a short ferry trip from the mainland the island can be reached on small motorboats running on varying frequencies depending on the time of the year. The monastery of St Panteleimon, where Ali Pasha spent his last days, is now a museum housing artefacts and relics of his period. On the island one can find a total of six monasteries: the Monastery of St Nicholas or Strategopoulou, the Monastery of St Nicholas or Philanthropinon, St John the Baptist, Eleousis, St Panteleimon, and of the Transfiguration of Christ. The streets of the island are home to many churches, gift-shops, taverns and bakeries.