One of the oldest castles of the Byzantine era. It has been stated that the Castle was built in 528 AD, during the reign of Emperor Justinian.
The first time the city’s name was recorded was in 879 AD, written in the minutes of the Summit in Constantinople. Then, Anna Komnene in her stories, she frequently refers to a city called Ioannina and its castle. In her work “Alexiada”, she talks about the city’s seizure by the Normans in 1802 AD, during which the castle was renovated.
In 1204 AD, Michael Angel Komnene founded the Despotate of Epirus, having Arta as its capital city. Those, however, that ruled the area were the aristocrats of Ioannina.
In 1430, during the reign of Charles II, the noblemen and the Metropolitan Bishop decide to surrender the city to Sinah Pasha, requesting however important benefits in return.
There was a moat around the castle that secured it from land. The moat started from the gate and extended all around it till the position called “ladder”. The ditch with the wooden bridge was filled with rubble in 1913, after Ioannina was liberated from the Turkish occupation.
1. The Seraglio of Kalos Pasha. It is a Turkish seraglio of the 18th century. A lot of family scandals concerning love affairs, passion and ambition took place in this building. All these scandals compose and direct a story of an ancient Greek tragedy. The tragedy could have been named “Society of the Aslans”. The family of the Aslan Pashas ruled by hereditary right the pashalic of Ioannina for two centuries, starting with Aslan Pasha I from 1600 till 1788 when the Turkish-Albanian Ali Pasha seized it.
Ali Pasha invaded the Castle using a small door that leads to the beach of dame Frosyni. One November night in 1788, a boat secretly transported him and his warriors from Perama and he married a widow called Zouleiha, a bride in the Aslan Dynasty.
Kalos Pasha was the first in the dynasty of Aslan Pashas and ruled from 1762 to 1755.
2. Soufari Sarai. It is a two-story building, huge in size, which hosted the Calvary Academy of Ali Pasha.
It is considered to be an example of fine technique, as the ceiling of the ground floor is set on an unconventional system of arched constructions in an arrangement of a five aisle basilica. An arched stony external set of stairs leads to the upper floor. In the past, it was used by the Greek Army. The huge in size building, that covers an area of 2000 sq. meters (around 21528 sq. feet), is now used to store the Historic Archives of the State. There are fifty windows on the upper form, allowing the light to enter inside and break the monotony of the strict and huge building.
3. The Turkish baths with two rooms.
4. The Turkish Library. A building with a finely decorated exterior.
5. The Mentresse Buildings. They are located after the gate, towards the citadel of Aslan Mosque. The whole area covered by the citadel and the mosque totals to 3.000 sq. meters (around 0.3 hectares), whereas the other citadel, the Its Cale, covers 14.000 sq. meters (around 1.4 hectares).
6. The Mosque of Aslan Pasha. The mosque was built by Aslan Pasha, the Governor of Ioannina, in 1618. It was built in memory of the Turkish victory against a movement orchestrated by Dionysus Philosopher in September 1611.
7. The Kitchen. It was built at the end of the 18th century. It is the central point of the Academy and it vividly resembles a Byzantine church.
8. The underground prison of Ali Pasha and its extension in a natural cave. The cave has not been exploited to date, but its natural décor, its stalactites and stalagmites, is particularly worth seeing.
9. The Mosque has a main hall in a square shape covering an area of 10 x 10 =100 sq. meters and twelve meters high. There is an alcove in each of the four corners giving the hall a circle shape. On top of them, an orbicular dome is built and decorated with wonderful arabesques. In the centre of the dome, surrounded by a circle, one may find written the names of the first caliphs and sultans of Islam.
10. The Harem of Ali Pasha. The harem of Ali Pasha consisted of three hundred women from any race: Christian, Ottoman, Albanian, Circassian, etc. Some were bought and others were given as gifts by powerful Muslims.
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