A Stroll Around the Frourio: the Walled Old Town & Citadel
For many of the centuries that Ioannina fell under the occupation of foreign conquerors, city walls enclosed the most important structures. There's not much of historic or architectural importance outside the citadel except on the islet of Nissi. A moat -- now filled in -- separated the fortress from the mainland. An esplanade circles the lakeside below the walls, and there are several openings in the wall, but most people enter the walls from Plateia Giorgio, which is lined with tavernas and shops.
A left turn inside the Plateia Giorgio gate onto Ioustinianou leads (in about 2 blocks) to the synagogue. Dating from 1829, this white-walled synagogue remains locked. You must track down someone who can let you in -- best is to ask at the shop of Mrs. Allegra Matsa, 18 Anexartisias (tel. 26510/27-008). Continue around the inside perimeter of the walls until you come to a large clearing. From here, ascend a cobblestoned slope to Aslan Pasha Cami, a 17th-century school with cells for Islamic scholars. Its mosque now houses the Municipal Popular Art Museum. In summer, it's open daily from 8am to 8pm; in winter, hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 3pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 3pm. Admission is 4€. Aslan Pasha built the mosque in 1618 on the site of an Orthodox church he razed to punish the Christian Greeks for a failed revolt. The exhibits, which include traditional costumes, jewelry, weapons, documents, and household wares, are grouped around the three major religious-ethnic communities of Ioannina: Orthodox Greeks, Muslims, and Jews. When an adjacent minaret and the mosque are illuminated each night, the scene from the lake is captivating.
In the opposite and far corner of the walled town is the innermost citadel, known by its Turkish name, Itz Kale. Within it are the Victory Mosque (Fethiye Camiles), the remains of Ali Pasha's palace, and the alleged tombs of Ali Pasha and his wife. The Greek army occupied this part of the citadel for years; its structures, now restored, include the Byzantine Museum, in the rebuilt palace and harem. The former houses icons and other church-related objects; the latter concentrates on silverwork. Hours are daily from 9am to 3pm; admission is 4€.
A Stroll Around Modern Ionnina
Ioannina has become a busy commercial center for all of northwestern Greece (pop. 100,000), and its streets can be crowded and noisy. One interesting retreat is the old Turkish Bazaar, near the walled town just off the main street, Averoff. In its tiny shops, you may see a few men practicing the old crafts -- metalsmiths, jewelry makers, cobblers, tailors, and the like. Averoff leads into the edge of the Central Square with the clock tower on the left. Up behind this is the city's Archaeological Museum . When you leave the museum, stroll across the broad, terraced gardens built over the site of what was once the walled kastro, where the Christians lived during the Turkish era. Returning to the main street, you are now on the Central Square (Plateia Pyrros), with its share of cafes and restaurants.
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