Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Greece ~ Getting “Stoned” at The Stone House on the Hill

If you set out to explore Greece it won’t take long before you realize the country isn’t all  whitewashed walls and blue accents as the tourist brochures might like you to believe.

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Mykonos blue and white church
03332_mani_&pelo_inset_encartaIn Greece’s Peloponnese, where we’ve chosen to make our home a portion of each year, the architectural style of buildings and homes are rather stark in comparison; built of gray or tan stone and brightened only with colorful shutters and doors and garden blooms.

Admittedly there are some villages in the Peloponnese where you’ll find a mix of the two styles, such as in Kyparissi, the village we visited a few weeks ago. (If you missed that post, you can find it here)



 
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Kyparissi - a mix of two architectural styles
But in our area on the west coast of the region’s ‘middle finger’ we are definitely cast in stone.  So much stone, that you could almost start taking its stately beauty for granted. Whether old or new construction, stone is the predominant building material. 

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Old and new stonework - Trahilia
Cast in Stone

Tracing the origins of the use of stone in Greek architecture leads back to Egypt (the place considered ‘home of stone architecture’ by some historical accounts) and dates from 650 BCE onwards as that was the time of renewed contacts and trade links between Greece, the Middle East and Egypt. Greek designers and masons became familiar with Egypt’s buildings and construction techniques, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Hidden art in the stone
Getting “Stoned” at The Stone House on the Hill

We had the opportunity two weeks ago to watch stone masons – they are artisans really – at work when they tackled a couple of projects for us at The Stone House on the Hill. It gave us an opportunity to renew our awe of anything constructed of stone. The projects, so small in comparison to constructing homes or buildings, still required so much hard labor that we were in awe of what our two craftsmen accomplished in our gardens in a period of three days.

P1000397We needed to raise the wall behind our house where the sloping garden’s dirt was being washed away by the rain and watering.




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We wanted, for cosmetic purposes, to resurface our entryway wall and the wall that borders our side yard.




It took a small crane to unload the materials which included concrete and stones:

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The materials are delivered in heavy duty delivery truck
Then materials needed to be hauled down our ‘StairMaster-eat-your-heart-out’ stairway and put into place. That’s The Scout helping haul stones while the masons went to work:

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The stonework begins
And when the work began, there was no stopping them. . .

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Stonework is a precise art of cutting and measurement
For hours each day it continued with hammers pounding, saws buzzing, the sun blazing overhead. . .

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Measuring, cutting, fitting and filling in - all part of the stonemason's skills
Three days later it was done. . .the before and after photos below illustrate that Greece’s timeless artistry in stone continues thanks to present-day masons.

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Before on left - unfinished surface; finished project on the right
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Before on left, funished on the right

“It’s beyond me. Everything seems to have a soul – wood, stones, the wine we drink and the earth we tread on. Everything, boss, yes, everything.”

-- Alexis Zorba, Zorba the Greek

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Stones with soul
That’s our report this week from The Stone House on the Hill. Thanks for being with us and hope you enjoyed watching our artisans at work.

A warm welcome to our new readers! And what a surprise it has been to learn that several of you reading the blog are fellow ex pats living not far from us here in The Mani.  Thank you for writing and letting us know. We’ve look forward to meeting you. 

And to all of you out there, safe travels and please come back again and join us for more Greek tales next week.

We are linking up this week with our fellow bloggers at:
Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

48 comments:

  1. Every time I read one of your posts, I get wanderlust, but unfortunately Steve isn't in the travel mood at the moment.

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    1. That's one of the nice things about having a home in Greece, even staying 'home' is a new experience for us. I'll keep my fingers crossed though that Steve gets at least a tiny bite from the travel bug this year!

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  2. Love the church photo but also the 'men being busy creating' a beautiful wall of stone ~ wonderful shots!

    Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

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    1. I have to admit that the blue and white architecture is stunning, Carol. Happy week to you as well!

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  3. That's going to be a great chapter in your book!

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    1. Love that vote of confidence, Vera Marie!! Hugs to you, my friend. J.

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  4. The stonework looks great! I think having a house with stone gives so much character to the home. And of course all the stone on the outside is beautiful as well. We also have many stone houses here amd even more stone fences surrounding the houses.

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    1. Mary, I should have included some photos of the stone fences that line the roadways and zigzag across the hillsides in this area as well. Thanks for your comment. Hugs, Jackie

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  5. Hello Jackie,
    A great job indeed. The stone stairway us beautiful and no doubt helps to stay in shape too.
    Helen xxx

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    1. Thanks Helen, and yes, there are 28 steps there as well as another five at the side of the house and more into the olive grove. We get a real work out when pulling weeds at the top of the stairs and hauling them to the burn pile at the bottom of the grove! Thanks for visiting ~ hugs, Jackie

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  6. I like to see the good old leveling techniques they use for the extra course on your wall.
    Yep, stones have soul, for sure.

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    1. The history and the stonework in your part of the world, Dina, is so equally amazing to me. I knew you would understand that stones have soul! Have a lovely week - see you soon over at your blog. xxx Jackie

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    1. Thanks much - I enjoy the linkup with photographers such as yourself!

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  8. Both styles are beautiful. I love your quote from Zorba the Greek.
    Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/05/getting-ready-to-play.html

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    1. Thanks much - Zorba I think was quite a wise man. I must re-read the book and watch the movie to remind myself of things that are important in life.

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  9. I had to laugh at your title, Jackie. Running up and down those steps hauling stones takes a real sense of humor! I love the "character" of the stone walls and buildings around Portugal and I have a new appreciation for the skill, patience and artistry of the stonemasons after reading this post. Kind of looks like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, doesn't it? :)

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    1. Now, you did notice I was taking photos of those who did the hauling? But yes, we've said that stairway is the gauge to when our adventures end. . .if we get too old or out-of-shape to 'do the stairs' it will be time to pull out the rocking chairs!

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  10. OOO, it all looks sooo beautiful. I can't even begin to imagine how it must be to wake up every morning to all this beauty. I really enjoyed watching them work in stone...I know it must have been lots of fun, being there in person.
    xoxo

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    1. Oh BJ, it was such fun. These two have done other stone projects for us and we hadn't been around to watch them work. Their laughter and their chatter and our awe of what they were doing just made it special. Another one of the joys of our life in Greece! Thanks for the visit~ xx

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  11. I love stone buildings. How fascinating it must have been to watch the masons at work. Lovely results.

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    1. We went out to a new home construction site one day last fall and saw a stone mason sitting at the side of a small mountain of stones to be used in the construction, chipping away at them just the way these two did on the fence. I have said they are simply artists the way they work their magic!

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  12. That is interesting process of building. Good to see the developments through the series of pictures. Artistic and not messy at all.

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    1. It takes skill, talent and an artist's eye to create these types of foundations in stone, that is for sure Indrani! Thanks for stopping by~

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  13. Wow! Those guys knew what they were doing. Even though they were working with stone, that surface looks as smooth as paper.

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    1. It was absolute magic they performed Ruth - simply magic! Thanks for stopping by ~ see you soon over at your blog.

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  14. It looks like hard work but the end result is excellent. It is good to see the old trades making the transition to modern times.

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    1. It really is fun getting a close up experience with skills and talents that have transcended generations, Jan.

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  15. Your title is catchy, for sure ;) The work never stops if you have a house, even if it's small. It looks lovely! #TPThursday

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    1. Glad you enjoyed that title! And yes, with each change in a home or garden you prompt ideas for more change!

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  16. Hey Jackie! Love the new wall. It's so smooth! Did they use any machines to cut the stones? I really admire and respect people who work with their hands. Sadly, they're becoming an endangered species here.

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    1. They used a power saw to cut those flat pieces into shapes but the stones were all done by chipping away at them. Stonework is so phenomenally expensive in the Pacific Northwest that we wouldn't ever consider having a wall built here, so it was fun to do it in Greece.

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  17. Hi Jackie! I love your new stone work. These gentlemen really are artisans. There is not denying that. Where are you right now? Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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    1. Thanks Nancie, I did call one of them an artist and he was so humble about it! As always love linking up on #TPThursday

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  18. Hello, the stone work looks wonderful. I am sure it is hard work, they did a beautiful job! Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and week ahead!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Eileen, always nice to find a comment from you! Happy week ahead~

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  19. As a history geek, it is fascinating for me to see the trajectory from Egyptian stone masonry to your garden wall. Lovely.

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    1. Thanks Suzanne - there is so much history wrapped up in stone masonry - one could spend a lifetime researching it all.

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    1. Lonely Planets just named our area one of the top travel destinations in Europe for 2016 - everyone should come visit!

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  21. Lovely work by the stone Mason's. Lucky for you to own such a property in Greece.

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    1. We are glad we chased our daydream and had the courage to catch it! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  22. As much as I enjoyed reading about and seeing your Stonemason's work through your great words and images, the blue and white of the church caught my eye - and makes me want to go back to Greece. The Peloponnese is not an area I know at all.

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  23. There's an art to being a good stonemason and I think you had some great work done.

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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