1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Iannina

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IANNINA (i.e. “the city of St John”; Gr. Ioannina; Turk Yaniá; also written Janina, Jannina, and, according to its Albanian pronunciation, Yanina), the capital of the vilayet of Iannina, Albania, European Turkey. Pop. (1905) about 22,000. The largest ethnical groups in the population are the Albanian and Greek; the purest form of colloquial Greek is spoken here among the wealthy and highly educated merchant families. The position of Iannina is strikingly picturesque. At the foot of the grey limestone mass of Mount Mitzekeli (1500 ft.), which forms part of the fine range of hills running north from the Gulf of Arta, there lies a valley (the Hellopia of antiquity) partly occupied by a lake; and the city is built on the slopes of a slight eminence, stretching down to the western shore. It has greatly declined from the state of barbaric prosperity which it enjoyed from 1788 to 1822, when it was the seat of Ali Pasha (q.v.), and was estimated to have from 30,000 to 50,000 inhabitants. The fortress—Demir Kule or Iron Castle, which, like the principal seraglio, was built on a promontory jutting into the lake—is now in ruins. But the city is the seat of a Greek archbishop, and still possesses many mosques and churches, besides synagogues, a Greek college (gymnasium), a library and a hospital. Sayades (opposite Corfu) and Arta are the places through which it receives its imports. The rich gold and silver embroidery for which the city has long been famous is still one of the notable articles in its bazaar; but the commercial importance of Iannina has notably declined since the cession of Arta and Thessaly to Greece in 1881. Iannina had previously been one of the chief centres of the Thessalian grain trade; it now exports little except cheese, hides, bitumen and sheepskins to the annual value of about £120,000; the imports, which supply only the local demand for provisions, textile goods, hardware, &c., are worth about double that sum.

The lake of Iannina (perhaps to be identified with the Pambotus or Pambotis of antiquity) is 6 m. long, and has an area of 24 sq.m., with an extreme depth of less than 35 ft. In time of flood it is united with the smaller lake of Labchistas to the north. There are no affluents of any considerable size, and the only outlets are underground passages or katavothra extending for many miles through the calcareous rocks.

The theory supported by W. M. Leake (Northern Greece, London, 1835) that the citadel of Iannina is to be identified with Dodona, is now generally abandoned in favour of the claims of a more southern site. As Anna Comnena, in describing the capture of the town (τὰ Ἰοάννινα) by Bohemond in 1082, speaks of the walls as being dilapidated, it may be supposed that the place existed before the 11th century. It is mentioned from time to time in the Byzantine annals, and on the establishment of the lordship of Epirus by Michael Angelus Comnenus Ducas, it became his capital. In the middle ages it was successively attacked by Serbs, Macedonians and Albanians; but it was in possession of the successors of Michael when the forces of the Sultan Murad appeared before it in 1430 (cf. Hahn, Alban. Studien, Jena [1854], pp. 319–322). Since 1431 it has continued under Turkish rule.

Descriptions of Iannina will be found in Holland’s Travels (1815); Hughes, Travels in Greece, &c. (1830); H. F. Tozer, Researches in the Highlands of Turkey (London, 1869). See also Albania and the authorities there cited.