Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Epirus
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Between the Pindos mountains to the east and the shores of the Ionian Sea to the west lies one of the most breath-taking regions of Greece. Visit the Zagori cultural landscape in the  mountainous north, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2023. Or explore the area around Preveza in the south, near the site of the Battle of Actium where Octavian defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra leading to he formation of the Roman Empire.  The regional units that make up Epirus are Thesprotia, Ioannina, Arta and Preveza. The administrative capital is Ioannina.

Archaeology & History Sites in Epirus

Ali Pasha's Tomb & Fethiye Mosque

The southeastern citadel within the Ioannina Castle was rebuilt by Ali Pasha. And it was here that his headless body was interred after his beheading on 24 January 1822. Beside the mausoleum is the Fethiye Mosque (Mosque of the Conquest). It was built on the ruins of a 13th century Byzantine church in 1430, immediately after the conquest of the area by the Ottomans. Originally a wooden structure, it was completely rebuilt for Ali Pasha in 1795 when the citadel became his palace. Today the mosque is part of the adjacent Byzantine Museum.

Cassope Archaeological Site

The ancient town of Cassope was founded in the mid 4th century BC, above nearby fertile fields. The town prospered and was the administrative centre of the region, until it was destroyed by the Romans in 168 BC. It has been extensively excavated, and the town plan, with straight roads perpendicular to each other, is easy to see. A number of public buildings have survived, including the theatre and the inn – the best preserved building on the site. Although there is lots of  shade, go early to enjoy the beautiful views from the site.

Dodoni

According to Herodotus and the Homeric epics, the religious sanctuary in the valley below Mount Tomaros is the oldest oracle in what is now Greece. The earliest settlement dates to about 5,000 years ago, by the 8th century the sanctuary was widely known. The grand public buildings were constructed in the 3rd century BC, including the theatre. Seating 17,000 spectators, it is one of the largest and best preserved ancient theatres. When Christianity was adopted the site lost its influence; in the 5th century AD a Christian church was built on the ancient temples.

Monastery of Saint Paraskevi

Overlooking Vikos Gorge in the Pindos Mountains is one of the oldest stone-built chapels in Zagori. The monastery was founded in 1414, and has been a place of pilgrimage for many centuries. The chapel is built in a traditional Byzantine style, with robust stone walls, arched windows and exquisitely detailed frescoes that are remarkably well preserved. A date on the wall suggests that the were painted in two phases, in the 15th century and then around 1689. The abandoned monastery is within walking distance from the village of Monodendri.

Monument of Zalongo

Erected in 1954, the six abstract female figures, created by the Greek sculptor Georgios Zongolopoulos, represent a group of women dancing towards the edge of the rocky precipice. The monument is 18 m long and 13 m high, and can be seen for miles around. In 1803 rather than surrendering to Ottoman troops, a group of women threw their children from the clifftop and then, dancing and singing, followed them. A well known dance-song, Dance of the Zalongo, is danced throughout Greece. Each year the event is commemorated in the nearby town of Kamarina.

Nicopolis

The ‘city of victory’ was founded by Octavian (Augustus) in 31 BC following and to commemorate his victory against Mark Anthony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. Establishing the town was an act of great political propaganda. It was an important Roman town, but decreased in size and significance in the Early Christian period. Scattered about a large area to the north of present-day Preveza are many features from different periods. Some are gated, and require an entry ticket, while others are freely accessible.

Nicopolis Aqueduct at Agios Georgios

The Nicopolis Aqueduct begins on the north west edge of Agios Georgios. Here a number of features have been found by archaeologists, some of which can be seen today. Water was collected in hillside springs and channelled into a collecting basin, which is now under the Church of St George. At one section the vaulted roof has survived. The canal then crossed the Louros River over a brick arcade. You will see two arcades: the southern, better preserved one having been built to replace the northern one.

Nicopolis Aqueduct at Archangelos

On the outskirts of Archangelos, at the northeast and south, it is possible to see the ruins of the aqueduct’s arcade. All that remains are the brick-built piers. The arches have not survived, although at the southern line of piers, some are preserved up to the spring of the arch. The piers continue south of the tarred road, and the line of the aqueduct can be followed, with scattered remnants of piers along a line of trees between cultivated fields, for some distance towards its final destination in Nicopolis.

Nicopolis Aqueduct at Kokkinopilos

On the east side of the Ioannina-Arta highway(E951) is a tunnel entrance that was made when the highway was constructed. This leads to that part of the Nicopolis aqueduct that runs east-west underground through tunnel cut through natural bedrock. The tunnel is about 400 m in length at a depth of 20 m. from the rock surface. It is not possible to enter the tunnel, but as you are driving passed it is worth stopping and having a look inside.

Nicopolis Aqueduct at Stefani

On the side of a hill above a stretch of road (21) running between Stefani and Louros the preserved sections of the Nicopolis aqueduct show some interesting features. The course of the construction is not high above the road, so easily accessible. The outer retaining wall of the feature is clearly visible from the road. Two different building techniques were used here, leading archaeologists to believe that there were two different phases of construction.

Museums & Art Galleries in Epirus

Archaeological Museum of Ioannina

With over 3,000 artefacts in 8 exhibition areas, the museum tells explores the history of Epirus from around 250,000 years ago to the 3rd century AD. From the earliest Stone Age inhabitants of the area to the late Roman period, with displays arranged regionally, chronologically and thematically. An entire gallery is devoted to the archaeology of the Sanctuary of Dodoni, where the history of Greece’s oldest is set out. After a 5-year refurbishment, the museum reopened in 2008 with modern and engaging displays.

Byzantine Museum of Ioannina

Within the southeastern citadel of the Castle of Ioannina, on the remains of Ali Pasha’s palace, is a neo-traditional building that served as a military hospital for the Greek army from 1958 until 1978. In seven galleries on the ground floor Byzantine antiquities from all over Epirus are used to recount the history of the region from the 4th to the 19th century. These artefacts include sculpture and ceramics, coins and jewellery, and many paintings and icons. A number of other nearby buildings are also part of the museum, including the Fethiye Mosque and the Treasury.

Municipal Ethnographic Museum of Ioannina

In 1617/18 a mosque and madrassa were built in the north eastern area of the citadel of the castle of Ioannina. Since 1993 the Aslan Pasha Mosque has been an ethnographic museum focussing on the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities of the Ioannina. Many of the objects have been donated to the museum, once belonging to local historical individuals. While most date to the 19th and 20th century, the museum also displays artefacts as old as the 16th century. Also on display is a historical collection of photographs an paintings relating to the liberation of the city.

Museum of Ali Pasha and the Revolutionary Period

Ali Pasha was beheaded by Ottoman troops loyal to the Sultan while he was hiding on an island in Lake Pamvotida. Part of the monastery where he was staying is now a museum dedicated to the life of the local ruler. The museum has a number of artefacts that belonged to the Pasha, including his famously long turban, the silk costume of his wife as well as his silver sword. A second building displays artefacts associated with 19th century attempts by the Greeks to overthrow the Ottomans.

Nicopolis Archaeological Museum

This museum, on the outskirts of the present-day town of Preveza and on the edge of the archaeological site of the ancient city of Nicopolis, is dedicated to the archaeology of Augustus’ ancient town. A series of permanent displays, arranged chronologically, cover the founding of Nicopolis, public and private life in the ancient city and its development into an early Christian centre, and its decline at the end of the 6th century. We advise visiting the museum first, before exploring the archaeological sites.