The northeastern citadel in the castle of Ioannina, Greece

Ioannina is a city in the northwestern region of Epirus, Greece.  It has a rich history, which is partly reflected in today’s cityscape. One of the city’s most important landmarks is the castle, which includes two citadels. This article is about the northeastern citadel. The timeline is the 17th century when the  surviving monuments were built.

Northeastern Citadel of the Ioannina Castle, Circular Tower of the Byzantine Gate. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The northeastern citadel in the castle of Ioannina offers stunning views of the lake and the city and has three monuments of the Ottoman period of the city’s history.  In the Byzantine period that preceded the Ottoman, the Citadel housed the mansion of the Byzantine ruler of the city. The remains of the circular tower of the southern Byzantine gate stands before the visitor as she enters, to the right.

Aslan Pasha Mosque, Ioannina, Epirus, Greece. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

In 1589 the city of Ioannina had 10,000 inhabitants. Merchants from Ioannina had started traveling to the Balkans and Venice. The economic development was disrupted in the year 1611 when Dionysius the Philosopher led a revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The revolt was not successful and the Ottoman garrison under Aslan Pasha, the Governor of Ioannina, eventually crushed the rebellion. Dionysius was captured alive, was tortured and killed.

As a result of this rebellion, all Greeks were removed from the Castle of the city of Ioannina, and the Orthodox Church of Saint John the Baptist, guardian of the city, dating back to the days of Justinian, was destroyed. In its place, in 1618 the victors erected Aslan Pasha’s Mosque, to commemorate their victory.

The Mosque stopped performing religious services in 1924 after the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey was completed. Today it houses the Municipal Museum of the City of Ioannina.

The octagonal mausoleum of Aslan Pasha. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Aslan Pasha died shortly after the mosque was built and was buried in the octagonal mausoleum (turbe, the Turkish word for “tomb”) located right next to the mosque.

The inside of Aslan Pasha’s Mausoleum in Ioannina. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

According to some sources, there were more mausoleums in the area near the mosque, but they were destroyed by the occupying forces during the second World War.

The seminary in the northeastern citadel of the Ioannina Castle. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The seminary is the second monument in the citadel. It was built in the first half of the 17th century, at around the same with the mosque and occupies the southwestern side of the citadel.  It is a long building that today remains empty.

The Dining Area of the Seminary in the Northeastern Citadel of the Ioannina Castle. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

On the other side of the Ottoman Gate, the visitor can see the kitchen and the dining area of the seminary.

The mosque, the seminary and the dining/kitchen area formed in their time an important religious – educational center.

The chimney of the seminary’s kitchen in the northeastern citadel of the Ioannina Castle. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The octagonal chimney of the seminary’s kitchen captures the eye and may be mistaken for a church tower. But it isn’t.

Inside view of the chimney of the seminary’s kitchen in the northeastern citadel of the Ioannina Castle. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The view of the chimney from down under is impressive.

The mosque and the turbe viewed from the entry gate.

The Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi visited the city of Ioannina in 1670 and reported that there were 4,000 families, approximately 20,000 inhabitants. There were nice homes and shops in the city, where one could find silver jewelry. Silk clothes were imported from the Adriatic.