LIBERATION OF IOANNINA

Ioannina, the largest city of Epirus was incorporated into the Greek state on the 21st of February 1913, after the Battle of Bizani in the Balkan Wars. The city’s formal name, Ioannina, means “Town of John” in Greek.

The Battle of Bizani was an action in the Balkan Wars fought between January 10 and February 20, 1913 between the Greek army (41,000 men) and the last Ottoman army ever to enter Macedonia or Epirus (30,000 men).

The initial Greek attacks on January 11 and 12 were repelled by the Turks with heavy losses for the Greek side. However, on February 20, 1913, the Greek Army attacked again, out-flanking the Turks on the west while occupying their forces in the east and in the centre. The Ottoman Army was taken by surprise and their commander, Esad Pasha, surrendered at dawn of February 21 at Emin Agha Inn – the headquarters of the Greek Army.

At the outbreak of the war, the Greek Army on the Epirus front did not have the numbers to initiate an offensive against the German-designed defensive positions in Bizani. However, after the campaign in Macedonia was over, many Greek troops were redeployed to Epirus, where Crown Prince Constantine himself assumed command. In the battle that followed the Ottoman positions were breached and Ioannina taken. Despite having a slight numerical advantage, this was not the decisive factor in the Greek victory. Rather, “solid operational planning” by the Greeks was key as it helped them implement a well-coordinated and executed assault that did not allow the Ottoman forces time to react.

The Ottoman defeat lead to the capture of Ioannina in Epirus.

Greek casualties amounted to 812 dead and 1,499 wounded.

Ioannina, Epirus has a population of 111.740 inhabitants in the year of 2011. It lies at an elevation of approximately 500 meters above sea level, on the western shore of lake Pamvotis. It is located within the Ioannina municipality and is the capital of the Ioannina regional unit and the region of Epirus. Ioannina is located 450 km northwest of Athens, 290 km southwest of Thessaloniki and 80 km east of the port of Igoumenitsa in the Ionian Sea.

Ioannina has a Mediterranean climate tempered by its inland location and elevation. Summers are typically hot and dry, while winters are wet and colder than on the coast. Botanically, the region of Ioannina is dominated by robust, fragrant pine trees, many of which grow within the city itself, especially around the old castle, or fortress walls.

Today marks the 107 year anniversary of the Independence of Ioannina and there will be huge celebrations all over the town and in the Epirus region, with plenty of traditional food, music, and dancing.

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