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Ioannina Capital of Epirus Page 6

Pandelimonos is the most fascinating of the Ali Pasha sites in Ioannina, though completely reconstructed after being smashed by a falling tree some years ago. This is where Ali Pasha was assassinated, after the Turks found out where he was hiding, at the end of their long siege. They trapped him in his rooms on the upper storey, shot him through the floor below, decapitated him, and sent his head to the sultan as a trophy. The bullet-ridden floor boards are the main display in the little museum, devoted to this tyrant, along with fine prints from this era and memorabilia including Ali's water-pipe on the fireplace. The museum is open daily in summer during most of the daylight hours, with a different schedule in winter; .75 euro admission.

The other three monasteries are south of the village: Filanthropinon, Aghiou Nikolaou Stratigopoulou (also called Diliou), and Eleoussas. The first two are now homes, and brief visits are allowed except during the mesimeri (midday) rest hours. Knock at other times to see if you can visit, though you may be shown only the chapels, which have frecoes. Both have nice courtyards.

The oldest is Stratigopoulou/Diliou, dating from the 11th century, which has a restored fresco of Judas returning his pieces of silver. In the narthex are Lives of the Virgin and St. Nicolas Last Judgment. The finest of the frescoes are at Filanthropon, a barrel vaulted structure with a blind narthex and two pareklisia (side chapels). Frescoes here depict an entire cycle of Christ's life, episodes on boats in the Sea of Galiee, saints, martyrdoms (which are rather graphic and gory), Adam naming the beasts in the Garden of Eden, the Transfiguration. In the south chapel are also ancient Greek sages such as Solon, Aristotle and Plutarch, which suggests that this may have been a school for Hellenic culture during the Turkish period.

At Dilou the narthex has an Adoration of the Magi and a Flight into Egypt, an Apocalypse, and a Nativity. The fourth monastery of Ioannou Prodromou, with a less interesting interior but nice three windowed gables and brick work, is reach via the path that goes counterclockwise around the island from the other three monasteries.

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