106km (65 miles) E of Igoumenitsou; 452km (280 miles) N of Athens

Once a sleepy medieval town, Ioannina changed in 1204, when Greeks fleeing Constantinople (after its capture by the Crusaders) arrived and made it the capital of the Despotate of Epirus. The first despot, Michael I, started building the walls that over the next centuries would be enlarged and strengthened by various conquerors -- Greeks, Italians, Serbs, and Turks -- to become the magnificent walled old town and the lively contemporary city that appeals to many of us today.