Dimitsana, Peloponnese, Greece 1/2014

May 14, 2014

On our way to famous Olympia, we detoured briefly to spend the night near a village called Dimitsana. We had heard of a unique open-air Water Power Museum. Always interested in learning about how people lived and worked in the old days, we were eager to find out what the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation had to offer here. It is one of several museums they have created throughout Greece.

The museum highlights the importance of waterpower in a traditional society, presenting the basic pre-industrial techniques that used water as the main source of energy for the production of various goods. On a mountain hillside with abundant running water, traditional workshop buildings housed permanent installations of restored water-powered equipment. There was a water-powered flour mill that we could actually feed some corn into. A tannery displayed all the different stages of processing hides and a “fulling-tub” showed how wool cloth was treated to make waterproof felt. We also spotted a small distillery for the production of Tsipouro (Greek grape brandy) produced from the “grape marc” which is also called pomace, the skin, pulp, seeds and stems left after making grape juice.

A miller’s & a tanner’s home showed the old way of life and featured lengthy documentaries from local oldtimers. Of course, there was a huge water wheel making its perpetual rounds. Since Monika’s maiden name is Mühlebach meaning “Mill’s Creek” in German, she has always been fascinated with millstones and water wheels….

To our surprise, we found a functioning gunpowder mill that we had never seen before. Quite ingenious indeed! Dimitsana was one of the many villages that knew how crude saltpeter was extracted as an important ingredient in the making of gunpowder. The area was a very important supplier of gunpowder for the War of Independence (1821-1832) and continued into the early 20th century. This type of production had apparently become extinct in Western Europe in the 18th century. Gary had to laugh because he and his cousins made crude gunpowder for 4th of July one year resulting in some exciting volcanoes and pin wheels.

Did you know that saltpeter was extracted from sheep poop? YUP!! Plenty of that around here….

(FYI: No, Gary and his cousins did not make saltpeter. They bought it at a local pharmacy.)

One Response to “Dimitsana, Peloponnese, Greece 1/2014”

  1. On our way to famous Olympia, we detoured briefly to spend the night near a village called Dimitsana. We had… http://t.co/bu0FUGyFAd

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