The works they build
Throughout the centuries the Ipirite masons have built great works. Manors and simple humble homes, churches large and small with towering steeples, monasteries, schools, mills, olive presses, water presses, inns, fountains and others.
Bridges with one arch or many arches, smaller or larger, built primarily in the 18th and 19th century, these works of renowned Ipirite masons are magnificent architectural monuments, examples of a rich traditional heritage in the area of the art of stonework. Perfect construction, symmetrical, harmoniously tied to the environment, stable and standing the test of time and the difficult weather conditions.Even when the builders increased in numbers, they still knew their craft perfectly, because they learned the work from a young age and from the beginning. The promotion to each grade was gradual and under the watchful eye of the head mason. Aside from this, because they worked in pairs, the outside man (the best) had to care how the inside man was building, because they both built the wall together.The skill of the mason was also tested in the construction and more in taller houses. Even the simplest wall needed skill in order to be built well, especially in the junction of the inner and outer stones: the batikes stones that reach quite deeply inside the wall cover each other in the successive layers, as if forming a pillar, a support. These binding pillars, in a job well done, were every 1 m. Other difficult points were the columns (the narrow pillars between the windows), when the wall was verga (namely it was not tied with others vertical to it), the last dema or kourso, namely the high point of the wall (because the stones were lifted by hand one by one by the masons on the same ladder), the defining of the angle of the roof for masons who were illiterate and the tsivikoma on the tiling of the roof. Many illiterate masons were unable to calculate the angle of the roof, while for the head mason the tsati was easy work. Many of the houses, according to the desire of the owner, were decorated with various stone carvings. They are found on the south wall, on the façade, right and left of the arched lintel of the front door. Their purpose was not only to decorate the home or to accentuate a certain element, but another, primarily symbolic. Relief forms of oval male faces, angels with open wings, crosses, birds with open wings. The face is the guardian angel of the home. The cross is clearly a symbolic element, to ward off evil and protect. The bird is the dove, a symbol of good spirit, a symbol of peace. The Paliogefyro, at the beginning of the gorge of Vikos, unknown in terms of when it was built, connects the villages of Tselepovo and Kipous in Zagori, and has a span of 9.5 m. and 10m. in height.
Also in Zagori between Vitsa and Koukouli, built in 1748 with funding of Al. Misios, is the bridge that bears his name and has a total height of 10.65 m. It has two arches, a large vertical one that is 18.4 m. long and 6.9 m. high and a smaller one, with a length of 6.8 m. and height of 2.25 m. Between the two arches is a small blind arch, possibly painted with the representation of the patron saint; while on its base is a triangular buttress. The curved built passageway, above the angle of the wall of the bridge and the rock, reveals perfect technical ability and adaptation to the environment. The stone bridge of Klidoniavista on the river Voidomati, that connects Konitsa with Zagori, was built in 1853 by a woman (Balkiz Xanoum of Malik Pasha). It was named after the almost deserted mountain village of Klidoniavista (presently Ano Klidonia). It is a single arch bridge, the span of which is 20 m. and has a height of 9.15 m. Its deck is covered with cobbled stone, has a low protective parapet made of asymmetrical stones, while the icon of the patron saint was right of the wall in a small square niche.
In Zagori there is also another single arch bridge between the village Kipous and Koukouli, the bridge of Noutsos or Kokkori. It was built in 1750 with funding of Noutsos Kontodimos and rebuilt in 1910 with funding of Gr. Kokkori, has as length of 23.6 m. and height of 8.5 m., while the complete height of the bridge reaches 13 m. The deck is covered with cobbled stone and has a protective parapet made of vertical stones, while it is accessed from both sides with pathways carved out of the vertical rocks, which are a continuity of the construction of the bridge.
In Zagori, near the village Kipous, there is the bridge Kalogeriko or Plakida, one of the classical architectural monuments of the region that bridges the river Viko. Its first name was received from a monk who supplied the funding for its construction in 1814, while its second name was received after 1865 by Al. Plakida who paid for its repair. It is large in dimensions with 56 m. length and 3.15 m. deck width, has 3 well-built arches and due to its shape it is vividly characterized as Caterpillar in motion. Its deck is covered with cobbled stone and instead of a parapet it has arcades and jagged ledges. The actual buildings themselves may give us plenty of information regarding the increase of their numbers and primarily of the skills of the masons. The homes in Zagori for example were large and with floors, and were built by the best masons around. The Zagorisians were smart, travelled and rich, and surely had the capability to build stately homes, impressive in their appearance with more processing of the stone and the addition of carved corner cut-offs, relief carvings etc. This fact lead the masons to compete with other bouloukia, since this gave them the opportunity to advertise their work and in this manner become sought after. The constant desire of the owner for the reduction of cost and consequently the increase of the speed of construction many times bore against the durability of the home.