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.
In Ipirus during the period of Turkish domination many other buildings were made, that reveal that the Byzantine technical tradition and ability was preserved. Large churches with complex combinations of domes and arches and many smaller ones with simpler combinations, large and elaborate mansions, many mosques with domes and magnificent minarets (only in Ioannina in 1856 there were 17 mosques).
Wonderful stone-built communities and villages such as Pyrsogianni, Vourbiani, Molitsta and others in Mastroxoria, Aristi, Papiggo, Tselepovo, Dilofo and all the villages of Zagori, Syrrako, Kalarrytes and other villages of the Tzoumerka or traditional communities in the areas of Metsovo and Pogoni, with covered stone arched doorways, fountains, cobbled stone pathways, give off an amazing sense that is in complete harmony with the environment and reveal masters with perfect architectural training.
Wondrous churches with beautiful steeples such as Saint Vissarionas in Filippiada, in Mixalitsi the church of Saint Nikolaos, in Xouliarades the church of Saint Paraskevi, in Papiggo the church of Saint Vlasios, in Tselepovo the church of Saint Nikolaos, in Monodentri the church of Saint Athanasios, in Konitsa the church of Saint Nikolaos, in Ioannina in Archimandrio and elsewhere.
Majestic monasteries, true spiritual oases, places of resistance in a time of spiritual poverty, in accessible or difficult to reach areas, are beautiful architectural examples. The monastery of Kipina, Viliza in Matsouki, Tsoukas, Prodromou in Plaisia, Mouxousi near the village Raftanaioi, Douroutis, Metamorphosis in Sistrouni, Romanou, Panagias Toskesi in Axladia Lakkas Souliou, Zoodoxou (Tzontila) in Eleousa, Prophet Elias in Zitsa, Pateron in Lithino Zitsa, Paliouris, Sosinou in Parakalamo, Vellas, Avel in Vissani, Seltsou and Makraleksi in Pogoni, Molyvdoskepastis, Kokkinis Petras in Anthoxori Metsovo, Saint Nikolaos in Metsovo and so many others.Beautiful examples of architecture are also the Mosques, such as for example those we see in the Castle of Ioannina.
Of course one could not fail to mention the Castle itself, which begins at least from the 13th century, the period when Michail III made Ioannina a great commercial and political center of the greater area of Ipirus. In 1611, after the revolution of Dionysios the Philosopher, the destruction both within and outside the Castle was extensive, in order to be rebuilt at a later time and repaired in the period of Ali Pasha (1815), when intense construction activity went on. Certainly the stone masons from the greater area would have participated in the rebuilding of the Castle with the imposing semi-circular and square towers, on the older Byzantine wall.
All the above are indubitably works of the minds and hands of the Ipirite masons.
Also within Ioannina, the largest urban center in Ipirus radiating to the entire Greek area, these wandering masons or direct descendants, build large, rich and elaborate manors, such as that of Stavros Ioannou (1802) and A. Misiou (1843). They build even though there are masons in the city, because it is certain that at least the fame of the Vourbianites and Zoupaniotes wandering masons is better than that of the locals. That is why mastronikolas Georgiou, that builds the manor of Misiou, proudly puts next to his name the word vorbianitis, which is how he would have been known. Even if these masons only worked in the city, it appears that the rumour that these areas turned out the best masons, was alive and they also preserved it with their work.