Water and Culture

Water-saws of the Aoos valley, the Intangible culture of Water and the Chamois of Pindos

The river has always been an important waterway joining civilizations down the millennia, facilitating communication and giving life to all the living things around it. This area, covered with important ecosystems and unique geology, provides habitat for a number of endemic, rare and protected species of flaura and fauna. In fact, part of the area belongs to the Northern Pindos National Park, one of the largest and most important terrestrial national parks in Greece.

It would seem that this river with its tributaries crossing the Infinite Gaea was beloved by many. That is why the places roundabout have been inhabited since ancient times. The dense forests, verdant pastures in the plains and plateaus, the water that flows in abundance throughout and the bio-diversity have made this land attractive to many different peoples down the millennia, whose cultures developed in harmony with the environment. Today, one can find traces of the hunter-gatherers of prehistory, of the Molosson culture, remnants of the activities of communities in Roman and Byzantine times, of the years of Ottoman dominion and of the land’s settlement in the modern era. Stone villages, arched bridges, watermills and water-powered saw-mills, fountains and fairy-fountains, local dialects and musical traditions come together in time and space to form a unique land.

This thematic route is broken down into three sections that illustrate this relationship between Man and the river and its importance  in the area’s productive base, in the role it plays in folklore and traditions and of course, the area’s biodiversity.

The first section will lead you to flour - mills, washing pools, mantania (machines for pounding wool) and water-saws.

These technologies call other, distant eras to mind and the production processes of traditional, pre-industrial societies. Made from stone or wood, these machines—authentic examples of mankind’s genius and resourcefulness—transformed the dynamic and kinetic energy of river water into power sources for operating mechanisms for processing fabrics and timber and grains. In the Ecomuseum area, one can visit the Museum of water power and see a number of traditional water powered mechanisms. Emphasis is given to water-saws of the Aoos valley which are considered the most complex of them.

The intangible water culture, the second section, analyses the metaphysical elements of the area. Α hiking trip will take you to the two dragon lakes of Tymfi and Smolikas; on the way there you can rest next to the Fairy fountain or even the fountain known to soothe an aching heart.  The metaphysical elements, inextricably linked to the folklore and traditions, gave meaning to the unpredictable and often dangerous natural environment of the area. The places, away from human settlements, where demons resided and haunted lakes, fountains and caves could be found.
The third section is inspired by the area’s biodiversity and in particular the Chamois of Pindos. A threatened species, emblematic of the high mountains of Greece, it can be found in the most precipitous and inaccessible areas of Northern Pindos. In fact, it is one of the few remaining places where one can still see this species in its natural environment.
The Ecomuseum’s downloadable guide book provides more detailed information on this route and its interest points. You can also get a taste of the area and the route through the virtual tour.

View More


2 Sawmills
2 Dragonlakes
4 mountains
400 wild goats