|Coordinates: 40°3′N 20°45′E / 40.050°N 20.750°E|
|• Municipality||951.2 km2 (367.3 sq mi)|
|• Municipal unit||542.5 km2 (209.5 sq mi)|
|Elevation||600 m (2,000 ft)|
|• Municipality density||6.7/km2 (17/sq mi)|
|• Municipal unit||4,632|
|• Municipal unit density||8.5/km2 (22/sq mi)|
|• Population||2,942 (2011)|
|• Area (km2)||54.506|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
Konitsa (Greek: Κόνιτσα; see also names in other languages) is a town of Ioannina in Epirus, Greece. It is located north of the capital Ioannina and near the Albanian border. Konitsa lies northeast of a group of villages known as the Zagorochoria. The town was built amphitheatrically-shaped on a mountain slope of the Pindos mountain range from where it overlooks the valley where the river Aoos meets the river Voidomatis.
Konitsa acts as a regional hub for several small villages of Pindos, and features many shops, schools and a general hospital. Primary aspects of the economy are agriculture and tourism; it is a popular starting point for tourists and hikers who want to explore the Pindos mountains, or who want to go rafting in the river Aoos or parapenting. Due to Konitsa's closeness to places of particular interest, such as the Vikos–Aoös National Park, which includes the Vikos Gorge, the Aoos Gorge and the Tymfi mountains, where the Vikos spring water brand is collected, the Dragonlakes of Tymfi and Smolikas and the sulfur baths of Kavasila, contributed to the increase of tourism in the region.
The town itself is known in Greek as Kónitsa (Κόνιτσα), the villages surrounding it are often known as the Konitsochoria, meaning "the villages of Konitsa". The town is known in Bulgarian as Коница (Konitsa), Albanian as Konicë, in Aromanian as Conitsa, and in Turkish as Koniçe.
There are two main theories regarding the etymology of the name. The first states that the city takes its name from an ancient Epirote city named Knossos, which was located near modern-day Konitsa. According to this theory, the name is a corruption: Knossos -> Konissos -> Konissa -> Konitsa. The other theory states that the name is Slavic, from Koni (horse) and Tza (land), meaning horseland. According to a third theory, the name comes from a local lord named Konis who allegedly built a castle in the city.
During the Middle Bronze Age (2100–1900 BC) the region of Konitsa was inhabited by Proto-Greek populations. Latter in classical antiquity, the area was part of the territory of the Molossians. At the time of the reign of Pyrrhus of Epirus (297–272 BC) a number of forts existed in strategically important positions.
The town of Konitsa is recorded for the first time under its modern name in the Chronicle of Ioannina of 1380. The chronicle mentioned that the defences of the castle of Konitsa were strengthened by the local Despot of Epirus, due to an imminent attack. In 15th century Konitsa came under Ottoman rule and became part of the Sanjak of Ioannina. The town was the administrative centre of a kaza (Ottoman district) which according to the Ottoman General Census of 1881/82 had a total population of 16.570, consisting of 15.838 Orthodox Greeks, 1.429 Muslims and 3 Jews.
During the Ottoman period some local Greek landowners converted to Islam to preserve their holdings. These converts formed a powerful and influential group in the area, living in the upper part of Konitsa alongside the Christians. The upper part of Konitsa is the oldest and most populated part of the Konitsa region, while the lower part is the newest and least populated. While Christians were a majority in the upper part of Konitsa, the lower part of Konitsa had a Muslim majority, consisting mostly of Muslim Albanian refugees from nearby settlements and regions like Leskovik, Kolonjë and Frashër (today located in Albania) who became agricultural laborers. Some of the local Greek elites had been Islamised there in order to preserve their social status. The native Muslim and Christian population exclusively spoke Greek in the two neighborhoods of the town. A Greek school was operating already from the end of the 18th century under Georgios Mostras, student of Balanos Vasilopoulos. Greek education was flourishing and in 1906 the kaza of Konitsa had 31 schools and 1,036 pupils. The functioning of the school was interrupted during the turbulent times of Ali Pasha's rule, however soon after it reopened following the initiative of Kosmas Thesprotos, a student of Athanasios Psalidas. During the Greek War of Independence (1821–1830) a Greek national identity was evident among local Muslims too. During the 19th century until the early 20th century (late Ottoman period), the tekke of Konitsa, similarly to other Albanian Bektashi tekkes, was a covert center of culture, learning and tolerance, but also Albanian national activism against the Ottoman Empire. In that period some Konitsa residents developed a national consciousness resulting in individuals such as Faik Konitza and Mehmet Konica becoming important figures in the Albanian national movement. Apart from a small number of Albanian families, the local Muslim community had Greek as its mother tongue. Albanian speech was limited to the local Ottoman officials. On the other hand, the local Greek population displayed tolerance towards actions by the Albanians that did not reveal chauvinist inclinations. In c. 1856 the town had a Muslim majority population of 62% and was mainly Greek-speaking, while the kaza had a Christian majority. During the late 19th century Konitsa had a population of 7,000 of whom 4,000 were Christians and 3,000 Muslims.
In 1924 Konitsa was a small town that consisted of a total of 800 dwellings, 200 of which were considered Albanian or Turkish. As a result of the population exchange agreement of 1923 between Greece and Turkey, roughly two-thirds of Konitsa's Muslims, were considered "Turks by origin" and left for Turkey in 1925. Another part moved to Albania. They were replaced with around 1,000 Greeks from Cappadocia.
In the following Greek Civil War (1946–1949) the surrounding region became a major battleground, while in December 1947 communist guerrilla units unsuccessfully tried to capture the town. Almost all buildings inhabited by Muslim Albanians in Konitsa were destroyed during World War II warfare. The communists guerrillas had the opportunity to withdraw and regroup to the People's Republic of Albania and then launch repeated attacks against Konitsa, but were decisively defeated by the Greek army. During the 1950s the Muslim population numbered around 70 families and they further decreased over time to a few families due to conversions to Christianity or migration to their Muslim correligionists in Greek Thrace, in both cases for marriage.
The present municipality Konitsa was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 5 former municipalities, that became municipal units (constituent communities in brackets):
The Konitsa municipality has an area of 951.184 km2, the Konitsa municipal unit has an area of 542.516 km2, and the Konitsa community has an area of 54.506 km2.
The province of Konitsa (Greek: Επαρχία Κόνιτσας) was one of the provinces of the Ioannina Prefecture. It had the same territory as the present municipality. It was abolished in 2006.
Sancaks Yanya (Kazas: Yanya, Aydonat (Paramythia), Filat (Philiates), Meçova (Metsovo), Leskovik (war kurzzeitig Sancak) und Koniçe (Konitsa)
The ethnic and cultural mosaic of the wider area was so composite, it was impossible to mark down the border in a way that would yield a clear distinction between Albanians and Greeks... The difficulty, as is well known, was not created only by the fact that populations were mixed even within the same areas and villages (i.e. Konitsa and Leskovik)
Οι μουσουλμάνοι Κονιτσιώτες εκτός από λιγοστές αλβανικές οικογένειες, είχαν ως μητρική τους γλώσσα την ελληνική όπως και οι Τουρκογιαννιώτες. Στην πόλη της Κόνιτσας μόνο οι Οθωμανοί υπάλληλοι μιλούσαν την αλβανική γλώσσα.
τα τέλη του περασμένου αιώνα η Κόνιτσα είχε 7.000 περίπου κατοίκους (4.000 χριστιανοί και 3.000 μουσουλμάνοι).
the Sarandaporos is controlled by the attractive town of Konitsa (some 800 houses, of which 200 were Albanian or Turkish in 1924),
1 January 1948 the Greek army relieved Konitsa, the important garrison close to the Albanian border that had long been under siege. The DSE forces fell back into Albania, regrouped and launched another offensive against Konitsa on 25 January, but were decisively beaten.