The Traditional Stone Craftsmanship at Lagadia village in Arcadia (in the Peloponnese) consists in practical knowledge regarding the procurement and processing of raw materials (stone, earth etc.) as well as the creation of buildings, as this was formulated mainly during the 18th and 19th centuries at Lagadia village in Arcadia. Lagadia in Arcadia has been one of the hubs in which the craft of traditional building flourished in Greece. Other equally significant centres include the Mastorochoria in Epirus, the village of Pentalofos in Western Macedonia and several Cycladic islands (e.g. Anafi, Naxos, Santorini, Tinos etc.).
Aside from the works, which the craftsmen of Lagadia have produced, the cultural heritage encompasses also the knowledge that yielded them. This knowledge was transmitted orally and empirically from the master to his apprentices as part of the building works in which the boulouki, namely the travelling company of builders under the direction of the master craftsman, engaged.
The inhabitants of Lagadia resorted to the building profession in the mid-18th century and proved to be skilful masons and excellent church builders. Their success was the result of the strict hierarchy of the boulouki, the division of labour, a high sense of cooperation, but mainly the quality of their work. The boulouki included the archimastoras (master craftsman), the mastores (journeymen and builders), the triotes (assistants) and the mastoropoula (apprentices).
The specialized journeymen that comprised the boulouki were the fatsadoroi (who were the best craftsmen, hence they built the outer face of the stonework), the mesomastores (less experienced craftsmen that built the inner face of the stonework), the pelekanoi (they hewed the stone blocks) and also the damartzides or litharades (who were responsible for the quarrying of stone). The apprenticeship of the children with their father or close relatives perpetuated the family tradition, whereas marriages were usually arranged between members of the boulouki aiming at its reinforcement.
With Lagadia as their base the local craftsmen expanded their activities to Gortynia which then spread across the entire Peloponnese (Morea) and fairly often outside its geographical bounds. Distinctive examples of their work during its heyday are found scattered all around the Peloponnese. These include the churches of Saint John the Baptist and the Taxiarches at Lagadia, both built before the Greek War of Independence, the church of Saint George at Stemnitsa, the church of the Dormition of the Virgin at Eva in Messenia and the church of Saint John Chrysostom at Heraia; also, the bridge of Koukos at Vlachorrafti in Arcadia, the church of Saint George at Lasta in Arcadia, the Dimitrakopoulos mansion at Alonistaina, the bridge at Drakovouni, the Stephanopoulos mansion at Divri, the church of Saint Charalambos at Dimitsana, the church of Saint Nicholas at Nea Figaleia in Ilia, the Gymnasium at Lagadia and of course a large portion of the village itself.
Nowadays, due to the changes that have occurred chiefly in material technology, the craft that thrived mainly during the 19th century is only partially preserved. Despite the rapid economic, technological and social changes, the fundamental elements of the building technique are still used today by local craftsmen who apprenticed with their predecessors. Today’s craftsmen gain additional experience by participating in restoration and reconstruction projects of buildings and monuments carried out by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Examples of such undertakings include the restoration of the Katholikon and the cells of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Philosophou (1992-93), the conservation and restoration of the chapel of Saint Theodora at Vasta in Arcadia (1995), the Pisimisis mansion at Dimitsana (1997), the Kalamiou Monastery at Atsicholos in Arcadia (1998), the Town Hall of Dimitsana (2001), the church of the Holy Trinity at Kontovazaina (2014) and more. By practising the craft, monuments are restored and conserved, such as churches, monasteries, schools, bridges, old mansions, pre-industrial buildings (mills, oil mills, cisterns etc.), retaining walls supporting the soil along paths or around arable lands etc., dilapidated or aged dwellings, as well as new buildings which are harmoniously integrated into the traditional villages.