Open Air Water Museum, Edessa, Greece
Edessa’s Open-Air Water Museum illustrates the history of water and power from the workshops of pre-industrial times through to the early twentieth century. The museum is spread over a series of buildings that were once mills and the Kannavourgio. Within this area there are two flour-mills with their grinding machinery, a water mill and a sesame mill, complete with equipment which was in use until the mid 1960s. Previously called Aiges, and Vodena both of which mean city of water, the city of Edessa was called by the Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi in the 17th century, “Dar-I-ma”: an Arabian-Persian expression which means “the place of waters”. The abundance of water and the morphology of the site enabled its exploitation and utilisation as a source of energy for production purposes- in fact, the water-driven mills, tanneries and fulling mills were functional until the end of the last century. In addition, there were hundreds of small mills in the houses powered by the energy from one or two brooks.
As part of the Ottoman Empire from the fifteenth century up to independence in the early nineteenth century, this Greek city has a collection that is connected to the Islamic heritage of water: for example, mills that grind wheat and sesame are of course a hallmark of Islamic culture.
Photos © Open Air Water Museum