Ioannina sits at the southern shore of Lake Pamvotida. It was from here that Ali Pasha 'Lion of Ioannina' created a fiefdom which included most of western Greece and present day Albania. The Kastro, Ali Pasha's citadel, is built on the western bank of the lake on a small rocky peninsula.
Perhaps this is why a walk through the city has the feel of a bygone era. Several mosques & a synagogue hark back to Ottoman times. The synagogue is inside the castle and is one of the largest and oldest preserved buildings in Greece.
Ioannina has always been multicultural, influenced by Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths - this co-existence is evident in the historic city centre. The Stoa Louli arcade is one of the locations where the three communities worked together and prospered. The arcade was built in 1875 with arches imported from Italy. Initially the gallery functioned as an inn, where people from nearby villages stayed when in Ioannina. Gradually the inn became a gathering place for people from across the continent, to begin their trips to Athens. Over the years the Stoa was converted into a commercial area by the Jewish merchants of Ioannina, who operated shops with fabrics and leather & recently, having been restored, it houses shops and restaurants.
The island of Nissi in the lake can be accessed by water taxis. This island village was founded by refugees from the Mani. The Monastery of Saint Panteleimon is a reconstructed building and it is where Ali Pasha was assassinated. This now operates as a small museum.