Churches and Monasteries in Ioannina

 Ioannina has served as a bona fide melting pot of religion and culture over the past two millennia. Orthodox Christian and Jewish communities lived side by side before, during and after the nearly 500 years of Ottoman Rule. Evidence of the centuries of Muslim influence can be found in several areas of the region and this peaceful presence of churches, synagogues and mosques adds a distinct flavour of culture and history throughout the prefecture.


All but dangling on the edge of the Vikos Gorge lays the monastery of Agia Paraskevi in the village of Monodendri.
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In the village of Negades, this church stands out for its remarkable frescoes and unique bell tower in the shape of a hexagon.
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Also found on Nisaki island is this monastery in which the famed ruler Ali Pasha met his fate in 1822. He was beheaded in the lower level of the monastery as he awaited the sultan’s pardon in vain.
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Another example of an early church is the Church of Taxiarches outside the village of Kostaniani.
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Within the Fortress of Its Kale stands this impressive mosque. Its current structure was commissioned by Ali Pasha in 1795 to replace the older version built 1430 on top of the ruins of an old Byzantine Church.
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If there were one church throughout all of Ioannina which should be on every traveller’s itinerary, this would be it.
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This church was first founded during the 11th century, though today’s structure dates back to the 18th century.
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Dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, this monastery features some impressive wall frescoes and paintings throughout.
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The Molyvdoskepastos Monastery lies within mere metres of Greece’s northern border with Albania. It’s one of the oldest churches throughout the region, dating back to the mid-5th century.
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This unassuming monastery is noteworthy not for any of its physical characteristics or collections, but for one of its monks who attended the monastery during the end of the 16th century.
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One of the oldest churches throughout the Ioannina region is this large monastery outside the village of Romanos, first built in 1113.
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Within the village of Chrysovitsa, this intriguing monastery has been the focus of an interesting legend.
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Dating back to 1156, this church dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary is impressive not only for its age or large stone temple, but of the beautiful area that it’s found in.
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As many churches in Greece named after the prophet Elijah, this monastery is built on the highest point of the region of Zitsa in the northwest part of the prefecture.
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This mosque, also known as the Mosque of Ali Pasha, was built in 1618, almost 200 years before its namesake came to power in the region.
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Built during the 17th century, this monastery dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary contains both stone and wooden structures such as a school, a precinct and cells.
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One of the largest and most important churches in the area is this monastery built in 1714 in the village of Achladea.
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This monastery was first commissioned by the sister of the then Byzantine emperor, Romanos III, during the mid 11th century.
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Built in 1665 by monks Sophronios and Joakim, this monastery seems to emerge from the steep cliffs that it has virtually been built into.
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Standing proud in the centre of the village square is the church of Agia Paraskevi. It was constructed sometime during the 16th century and acts as the unofficial emblem church of Metsovo.
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The sole remaining church within the castle walls, this small chapel is located behind the vault of Ali Pasha.
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Located on the small island of “Nisaki” just across the lake from the city of Ioannina, this monastery features some interesting wall frescoes of various saints but also includes paintings of a few ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.
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Dedicated to St. Nicolas, this church can be found at the southern edge of town in Metsovo. It’s a large monastery that was considerably wealthy at one time and today still has an impressive amount of land surrounding it which is used for vineyards.
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Also known as “Tsouka Rossa” in the local Vlach dialect, both names mean “red stone” and its interior filled with beautiful frescoes is certain to impress visitors. While the actual founding date remains unknown, the paintings date back to the mid-18th century.
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Also located near the village of Achladea is this small single-spaced church was where a strange ceremony took place involving shepherds bringing their sheep and goats through the church and back out again. Each of the two arched entranceways was designated for humans and animals.
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This church dates back to 1114, when it was founded by the then Prince Micheal. It underwent a massive renovation in 1787 and was later filled with beautiful paintings and frescoes crafted by iconographers from the famed villages of Kapesovo and Tsepelovo.
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Another church with impressive views is the Sosinou Holy Monastery just outside the village of Ano Parakalamos, which looks over the Kalamos River valley atop Sosinou Hill. The hill is also home to traces of a fortress dating back to the 4th century BC, though little else is known.
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Another monastery with ties to an emperor is the Votsas Monastery just west of the village of Doliani. The current building dates back to 1680, though it was first founded in the 7th century by emperor Konstantinos Pogonatos.
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