|The region of Epirus, occupying the northwest corner of the Greek mainland, has its own special beauty and cultural identity. It extends from the peaks of the Pindus mountains to the shores of the Ionian Sea. The Pindus range forms its natural north-eastern border, while dozens of other mountains, big and small, are scattered throughout the area, separated by only a few valleys.
Amidst these superb mountains and forests live the last of the Greek bears, wolves, mountain lions, wild boars and otters. Wild goats and deer still browse on its precipitous cliffs, where eagles and vultures nest. To the west stretches the Ionian Sea, a coast of a diverse blend of modern resorts, lagoons and river deltas, of which the latter two form an important system of wetlands.
Life in Epirus had its origins well before the dawn of history and the region witnessed all the ups and downs of Ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium and the modern era, gaining a uniquely individual sense of history and culture.
Ioannina is the capital and largest town of Epirus, standing on the western shore of Lake Pamvotis, which is the site of a tranquil island. The city became a major commercial and intellectual centre during Ottoman rule. The old town within the city walls has picturesque narrow lanes flanked by traditional Turkish building and two mosques. Ioannina is a good place to arrange and organised trek in the fascinating Vikos gorge, as well as to many more remote areas of Epirus, such as the Pindus mountains.
Attractions in Ioannina include the very important ancient site of Dodoni, with its colossal 3rd-century BC theatre, the acropolis, and the Sanctuary of Zeus. The theatre has been restored and hosts an annual Festival of Ancient Drama in July and August.
The Zagorohoria, comprising 44 villages, lie north of Ioannina in an area offering some breathtaking views. An outstanding feature of the villages is the architecture, as the houses are built entirely of slate from the surrounding mountains, a perfect blending of nature and architecture.