Ioannina Walk

This walk in Ali Pasha's Ioannina also takes in the city's main museums, the citadel, and a ferry ride to the island of Nissi to visit the Ali Pasha Museum.

Ioannina, with the Island of Nissi in the DistanceIoannina

In some parts of Ioannina you may be forgiven for thinking  that you have somehow wandered into a Middle Eastern city, or at any rate a Turkish one. Five hundred years of Turkish rule have left a significant legacy. No one had more impact on the city than the evil ruler Ali Pasha, and this walk takes in some of the sites associated with him, beginning with the citadel from where he ruled with an iron fist.

a Scooter In the Backstreets of IoanninaIn the Backstreets of Ioannina

The walk begins at the main entrance to the citadel, which is the second entrance through the thick fortress walls on your right as you walk down Karamanli from Plateia Neomart Yioryiou. A small shrine is in the wall beside the entrance. Go through the entrance and turn immediately left along Ioustinianou. You will pass on your right the Old Synagogue, which is only open by appointment. This was built in 1790. At one time Ioannina had a big Jewish community which dated back to the 13th century, but only a few dozen Jewish people survived World War II.

Aslan Pasha Tzami MosqueAslan Pasha Tzami Mosque

Continue along Ioustinianou till the end, where it bends to the right and leads you towards the Aslan Pasha Tzami mosque. This contains the Municipal Ethnographic Museum of Ioannina. The other rooms around the courtyard are not open to the public, and it was in these that one of the worst episodes of Ali's tyrannical rule took place. He raped the mistress of his eldest son, then threw her and seventeen other women into the lake in weighted sacks so that they could not reveal his dreadful crime.

The Byzantine Museum in IoanninaThe Byzantine Museum

On leaving the mosque by the way you came in, turn left to resume the walk. Keep to the left, just inside the citadel walls, and ignore the sign that directs you to the lake through a gateway. Instead, carry on ahead and through the entrance gates into the inner citadel. On the left is a cafe and the building ahead of you is the Byzantine Museum, with the Fethiye Tzani (not open to the public) to its left, in front of which is the probable tomb of Ali Pasha. The Silversmithing Museum is in an annex over to your right, housed in what was Ali Pasha's Treasury building.

Return to the gate that gives access to the lake and take the steps down to the lakeside, turning left until you reach the departure point for the ferries to the island of Nissi (whose name simply means 'island'). The little ferryboats sail back and forth every 30 minutes in summer, and every hour in winter, from 8am-11pm, though always check in case timetables have changed. Take the ferry across to the island. No doubt you'll be in the company of a few other visitors, but for the most part with islanders returning from their errands.

Sailing to Nissi from IoanninaSailing to Nissi from Ioannina

Nissi

On reaching the island, turn left to walk through a small network of streets, following the signs that direct you to the Ali Pasha Museum. It has an interesting collection of Ali Pasha's artifacts, and you can see the holes left by the bullets that killed him. You can read the details on our Ioannina page.

Reedbeds on Nissi, Ioannina, GreeceReedbeds on Nissi

From the museum you can continue on and take the path that goes all the way round the island, which is surrounded by reed beds and has abundant wildlife, especially birds. There are lovely views across to the Pindus Mountains, and back across the lake to Ioannina, although in places you will be unaware of the busy city's existence. Carry on along the path, where you might see fishermen mending their nets, until you return to the ferry quay for the boat back to Ioannina... or perhaps first a meal at one of the excellent fish tavernas here.

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