Ioannina is located in North-Western Greece, 466 km away from the nation's capital, but with a distance of only 65 km to the Albanian border. For historic reasons, Ioannina is closely linked to the country of Albania and Albanian culture. After communism fell in that country, turning it into one of Europe's (little) economic power houses, this proximity gained new meaning, both for Ioannina and for Albania. Today, cross-border trade is highly developed and further expected to grow.
Ioannina has a population of just over 70 thousand, and it is the capital of the prefecture of the same name.
Lake Pamvotis gives the city its soul, for Ioannina is located right on the border of that picturesque lake and both of them are surrounded by pleasant looking hills and small mountains. On the lake there is a little island, just 15 minutes away from the city by ferry. When you go there you will find the most lovely Greek Orthodox monastery - Moni Panteleimonos is its name. It is now a museum, mostly displaying paintings and other artifacts - as well as the rebuilt living quarters of Ali Pasha - who used to be the regional ruler of Ioannina under the Ottoman Empire, even though he was in fact Albanian.
Within the actual city of Ioannina, the biggest attraction for tourists usually is the city's impressive looking citadel, which also forms its old town.
Visitors wonder how sane the ancient inhabitants of Ioannina really were - for the castle appears to be one big and crazy labyrinth. But in fact there is sense in that mess: It was built like that on purpose to confuse invading pirates who used to plague the city for many centuries in times past. In any case, Ioannina has a glorious history. In the 18th century this relatively small town was the intellectual center of the country's enlightenment movement. The Greek priest and writer Neophytos Doukas famously said. "During the 18th century, every author of the Greek world, was either from Ioannina or was a graduate of one of the city's schools." Actually, the city's present is not so different.
In the days of globalization, Ioannina has managed to get back to the spirit of its proud history. But this time, it is less about philosophy and mostly about business and economic creativity.