Ioannina

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Founded by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, Ioannina flourished following the Fourth Crusade, when many wealthy Byzantine families fled there in the early 13th century following the sack of Constantinople. It was the capital of the Despotate of Epirus from 1358 to 1416, before surrendering to the Ottomans in 1430. Between 1430 and 1868 the city was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the 16th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment. Ioannina joined Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars.
The first indications of human existence in the regional unit of Ioannina are dated back to the Paleolithic period (38,000 years ago). This is testified by the stone tools that were found in the cavern of Kastritsa. The first recorded inhabitants of the area were the Epirote Greek tribe of the Molossians.
It is unknown when exactly the city was founded, but an unnamed new, "well-fortified" city, recorded by the historian Procopius (De Aedificiis, IV.1.39–42) as having been built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) for the inhabitants of ancient Euroia, is usually identified with Ioannina.
In the 13th century, the creation of the Despotate of Epirus favored Ioannina, which became its second most important city after its capital, Arta, and the capital of a thema of Ioannina. The founder of the Despotate, Michael I Komnenos Doukas settled refugee noble Byzantine families, such as the Philanthropenoi, Strategopouloi, Dragovitsoi, Zervoi, etc., who fled Constantinople after the fall of the city to the Fourth Crusade.[citation needed] These refugee families, together with the local nobility, took over the government of Ioannina in 1318 and broke away from Arta. In the same year, Ioannina became tributary to the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328). The city was elevated to a metropolitan bishopric, and in 1319 Andronikos II issued a chrysobull conceding wide-ranging autonomy and various privileges and exemptions on its inhabitants.

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