Melbourne Lecture Examines Epirus’ Multiculturalism During Late Ottoman Empire

The tomb of Ali Pasha in Ioannina, Epirus, Greece. Drawing by unidentified artist, published in Magasin Pittoresque, Paris, 1844.

A lecture sponsored by the Greek Community of Melbourne on June 20 shed new light on life in Epirus, Greece during the last years of Ottoman rule in the region.

The presentation, which was part of a series of Greek history and culture seminars taking place in Melbourne, featured Dr. Themistocles Papadopoulos examining a series of aspects of cultural and economic life in Epirus’ urban centers, including Ioannina.

Epirus distinguished itself from the rest of the decaying Ottoman Empire during the period of the rule of Ali Pasha by flourishing in many sectors, including trade, business, the arts, culture and education.

The economic prosperity of Epirus in the late nineteenth century has left visible traces up to the present day, with many public and private buildings in the city of Ioannina and elsewhere which show its rich culture spanning many decades before the collapse of Ottoman rule in the region.

Dr. Papadopoulos explained that prominent Greek businessmen had helped with the creation of several school complexes in the area, and made many other contributions to the cultural and artistic life of society during the Ottoman years.

Epirus was actually a hub of multiculturalism for years before the Balkan Wars and the region’s eventual liberation by the Greeks.

According to Papadopoulos, Epirus proved overall to be a great success story of peaceful coexistence (of course with war-time interruptions) between Greeks, Ottoman Turks, Albanians, and Vlachs, as well as the area’s Jewish population.

The ongoing series of Greek history and culture seminars is organized and presented by the Greek Centre of Melbourne.