6. Its Kale

Ali takes over and, among other, starts the construction of his Sarai in Its Kale (acropolis inside the walls).

6. Its Kale

He restores and repairs Fetiche Mosque, constructs the Sarai, builds kitchens, a bath, while at the same time keeps the Tower of Vouimoundou.

Works lasted 15 years (1801- 1815) and were tiring. An indispensable part for the completion of the tower was the drudgery, that is the obligatory and, of course, unpaid work, Among others, all the members of the trade unions of Ioannina would take part in those tasks.

The Sarai is not saved. Up to a point, it was ruined by the siege of Hoursit, but it was basically burnt down by a great fire- probably arson- in 1870. However, we know about it from works of art of wanderers of the time, the saved recounts and the meager archaeological findings.

Ali was ambitious. His ambition had reached Istanbul. His expansionist policies have come to the Sultan’s attention, who sends Choursit Pasha of the Peloponnese against him.  After Choursit besieges the castle, Ali Pasha threatens to blow himself using the ammunition from the powder keg and so they agree for Ali to go to the island and wait for an exculpatory firman by the Sultan. However, Choursit boards on the island and after he shoots him in the cells of the Holy Monastery of Panteleimonos, he takes his head and sends it to the gate, along with Vagia and Kyra Vasiliki. His body was buried in a family tomb in the sarai, along with his wife Emine.

Until 1913, with the Balkan wars, when the city goes into Greek hands after almost 500 years, not many significant things happen. It is worth to mention the torturing of George, the patron saint of the city, on the day of Saint Antonios celebration, 17 January 1837. Unwilling to change his faith, he is hanged in the central gate of the castle as an example. He was buried in today’s Metropolis. Today, his bones can be found in the church in Pargis Square, which is dedicated to him.

In 1923, with the Treaty of Lausanne, the Muslims (almost 6,000) leave the city. The Turkish army had already left after the liberation of the city. The majority of those Muslims are in fact islamified Greek- born Greek Muslims, who were part of the compulsory population exchange, since the criterion for the exchanged was the religion and not the language or descent. The words of a Turk naval officer, who transfers Turks form Ioannina to the Yalova Province, having left Turkish-speaking Greeks in the harbor of Preveza, were characteristic: “We both send away Turks and carry Greeks”.

In Its Kale, another black page of history is written. Here, the Nazis violently gather members of the Jewish community that lived in the castle. For those outside the castle, Molos is the venue for the gathering. The whole Jewish community of Ioannina is transferred via Larissa and Thessaloniki, in wagons for animals, to the crematoria in Auschwitz. 1850 will be murdered and only 160 will come back. The names of the lost-in-vain are written on plates in the Jewish Synagogue in their remembrance. Many of the survivors will not come back to live in Ioannina. Today, the Jewish community comprises only 40 members.

This is how we came to the Greek by now, city. Ioannina. Whoever knows,however, can still see the scars of people from the past and hear their voices.  

I.C.Touring offers a one-of-a-kind experience of a historic walk in the castle of Ioannina entitled: “One castle, three religions”. The people taking part in it, do not just get informed about every monument in the Castle, but travel back in time and meet with the inhabitants of the castle (Christians, Jewish, Muslims).

They learn about the basic stages of their historic route, their relationships, their habits and discover their traces, which comprise undoubted witnesses of their presence. Via the tablets they acquire, they have access to digital material (photographs, videos) which is put to good use and creates room for dialogue during the walk.