Ioannina was founded in the 6th century by Justinian, the Emperor of Byzantine. It was named after the monastery of John the Baptist (Greek name : Ioannis Baptistis), located inside the castle. It was the seat of Archbishop in 879 AD when the name became officially known. The town was occupied temporarily by Bulgarians while in 1082 Normands conquered the town. The town was freed by Alexios Komninos. In the 13th century, established as the Domain of Epirus, Ioannina was the second most important center after Arta – another town of Epirus. After the abolition of the Domain Ioannina come under Byzantine control. The town enjoyed great financial and spiritual welfare until the Turkish occupation in 1430.
In 1611 there was a rebellion led by Dionysios The Philosopher (or Skylosofos) which was suppressed by the Turkish Commander Aslan Pasha. The result of this rebellion was the abolition of the privileges the resident of the town enjoyed until then. From then on, Turkish families as well as Jewish ones settled down in the castle of the town. For the period that followed people improved their crafts and commercial activities in cooperation with important European Centers (Venice and Livorno) where a lot of tradesmen from Ioannina established their own commercial and Bank Houses. At the same time they supported financially the building of educational centers back in their home town. Many of these tradesmen became the most important benefactors of the country.
The most significant intellectual and educational activity of that time was the effect of the economic flourishing that the town enjoyed. During the 17th and the 18th centuries, Ioannina was a distinguished Modern-Greek Enlightenment centre along with Constantinople, Vienna and Bucharest. In 1789 the town was the Seat of the area under the control of Ali Pasha when the town really reached the peak of its prosperity. Since then the town is knows as “ Yannena, first in weapons, in money and in education”. In 1869 a big part of the town was burnt down, but was quickly rebuilt. Especially the marketplace was built according to a German architect Halt's plans. On February 13th,1913 Ioannina was freed during the Balkan Wars. After Minor Asia's destruction the town welcomed refugees from there.
In 1943, during the German occupation, almost the whole Jewish community of the town was sent to concentration camps in Poland and Germany. The Jewish Synagogue, though, exists to this day.