Ioannina, Nisaki

Ioannina’s “nisaki”- An oasis of calmness

If you are visiting the Greek town of Ioannina, make sure you spend a few hours strolling around the islet of Lake Pamvotis or “nisaki” as the locals call it. It is an oasis of calmness, less than 15 minutes by boat from the town’s bustling centre.

Lake Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

Boat to “nisaki”

Ioannina, Greece

View of Aslan Pasha Mosque on the way to “nisaki”

Lake Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

Arriving at “nisaki”

As soon as you step on “nisaki”,  you will feel as if you made a small leap back in time. Since no cars are allowed on the islet, the only sounds you will hear are those of birds singing, children playing and neighbors chatting with each other while having coffee on the doorsteps of their homes.

Ioannina, Greece

Taverns on the main square

The islet’s small settlement dates back to the 17th century and is dotted with traditionally built stone houses and centuries-old monasteries and churches. As you walk along the docks, you will see fishermen’s nets drying in the sun next to colorful boats and well-kept gardens full of flowers.

Greek Mythology

A fishing boat named after the Greek god “Hermaphroditus”

Being one of Ioannina’s main touristic destinations, “nisaki” has a few tavernas serving local delicacies like trout, eel, and frog’s legs. There are also rows of shops selling local handicrafts and sweets. Couldn’t help but wonder, could there possibly be enough customers for all those shops? Even though we were in the middle of the peak season, only a handful of people were around, adding to the nervousness of the owners. Most of them were not pushy, though.

Lake Ioannina, Ioannina. Greece

Men sipping coffee at the local “cafenio”

Lake Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

Abandoned stone house

Lake Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

Colorful detail

Greek cats

Who said “meow”?

“Nisaki” has also its share of legends and historical facts. It was on this very islet where the controversial local ruler, Albanian born Ali Pasha was brutally killed by the Ottoman army in 1822.

In an era when the Ottoman Empire was becoming increasingly vulnerable, the Sultan lost eventually his patience with Ali Pasha’s separatist movements and ordered his death. The monastery where he was executed is still standing, and it has been turned into a museum, dedicated to-take a wild guess!-Ali Pasha, the man who Lord Byron described as “remorseless tyrant, guilty of the most horrible cruelties, very brave, so good a general that they call him the Mahometan Buonaparte “. Allegedly, one of Ali Pasha’s favorite activities was roasting his enemies, slowly…

When I asked the museum guard, if she happens to know where Ali Pasha was decapitated, she told me that I was actually standing on the exact place where it happened: the third step as you go down  the stairs from the second floor of the museum. (By the way, this kind of spooky information, you will only find on Traveller’s Tree)

His head was then taken to Constantinople, to be presented to the Sultan. There is a painting in the museum that depicts the scene at  Istanbul. Apparently,  the Sultan did not feel sick at the sight of the chopped head.

Ali Pasha’s headless body was buried in Ioannina. Many years later  his beloved Greek wife Vasiliki was laid next to him.  Ali Pasha had over 600 women in his harem, but Vasiliki was his favorite. After his death, Vasiliki was sent as a prisoner to Constaninople. She died from malaria in 1834  in the Greek town of Aitoliko.

Ali Pasha, Ottoman rule, Greek history

Ali Pasha with his beloved wife Vasiliki

Before leaving the island, it’s worth to pay a visit at the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Philanthropinon. Its frescoes dating from the 13th century are an unforgettable experience. On the way out remember to put a few coins into the box, right next to the entrance.

Ioannina, Greece

“Nisaki” – An oasis of calmness

For more on Ioannina, click also here.

12 thoughts on “Ioannina’s “nisaki”- An oasis of calmness

    • VasilisM

      The door frames at the museum were so low, I hit my head very hard a few times. I escaped intact, but with a bad headache! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

    • VasilisM

      I am very glad you asked this, Brownyn.
      Those gentlemen belong to the same generation as my parents. They grew up knowing nothing else but famine, poverty, two wars (World War II and civil war), nazi occupation, and one dictatorship. Now that they are finally old and could just lay back and enjoy what is left of their lives, their country is going through the worst financial crisis in its history. Most probably they are worried about their disappearing pensions, or their unemployed children and grandchildren.
      I heard so many sad stories, while we were in Greece this summer. Parents were telling me how worried they are about their children’s future, who have just finished University and the only job they can find is being a waiter or waitress, earning a couple hundred euros per month. Unfortunately, this is the other, darker side of sun kissed Greece.
      I agree, their look is intimidating, but when life has been tough and bitter, you start looking the same…
      Thanks for stopping by, my dear friend.

    • VasilisM

      Thank you so much, Kamila!
      I like Greek mythology very much. I tried to read a Greek myth to our 5-year old daughter, but I think they were a little bit too scary for her. I have to wait for a couple more years, I guess.
      Do you have a particular Greek myth that you like? I like the one about “Apollo and Daphne”.

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