Ioannina, Greece - Intercultural City
Ioannina, capital of Epirus region, is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. The city lies in the middle of a plain, surrounded by mountains of abundant natural beauty. The historic old centre lies trapped within the walls of its castle and the modern city spreads out along Lake Pamvotis, the lake of Ioannina with its picturesque little island, the only inhabited lake island in Europe. Ιoannina endowed with rich historical legendary flourished through the eras becoming an important financial and cultural centre, a legendary metropolis of knowledge, renown since the times of the great Byzantine Empire. Founded by emperor justinian in the 6th century, the presence of Jews is already noted by the 7th century. These were Greek speaking Jews known as Romaniotes and have a continued presence in the history of the city. In 1431 Ioannina fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for the next 500 years. .In the following centuries Ioannina developed to an economic and cultural centre due in no small part to this mosaic of communities with their diverse traditions and actions. Early in 1913 following liberation by the Greek army, Τourkoyianniotes the Greek speaking Muslims of Ioannina left the city. At the end of world war I, after the Lausanne peace convention, many Greek refugees from Asia Minor and the Pontos region settled in Ioannina bringing their own cultural traditions.
Ioannina has always been multicultural, multilingual and multireligious with Christian, Islamic and Jewish influences defining its identity. The presence today of Islamic mosques and Jewish synagogues among the many Christian churches is an eternal proof of the multicultural history and tradition of proud Ioannina through the passage of time. It has a population of 112.486 inhabitants, and has integrated many immigrants from Republic of Albania, Islamic Republic of Pakistan and other countries.
Municipality of Ioannina, from the very beginning of the humanitarian crisis in Greece, has hosted in camps and urban settings a significant number of refugees and asylum seekers. Currently, it hosts more than 2500 refugees and asylum seekers mainly from the Syrian Arab Republic, Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Dr. Moses ELISAF