Water Power

Being fountain of life, water is one of Trikala’s basic characteristics; one of the three goods (tria kala) the area is known for, according to a close etymological approach of the city name, and province in aftermath. Being a natural water volume concentration basin for the whole Pindus Mountain Range, the area numbers hundreds of watercourses, dozens of tributaries and four major rivers. Water is the determinant factor for both the area’s morphological and climatic shifts, while it promoted its financial, social, cultural and industrial development.  

In the Cosmogony, Trikala are found as part of a lake’s bottom, formed by the waters that spring in Pindus. For thousands of years, cosmogenic changes, historical events and myths have contributed to the region’s evolvement in its current condition with the fertile plains, high peaks, steep valleys, gurgling waters and absolutely the uniquely beautiful Meteora.

Over the centuries, many towns and villages were created next to water springs and rivers, which owe their prosperity only to its life-giving power. Near springs and on river Lithaios banks, according to mythological references, the god of medicine, Asclepius cured his patients focalizing immensely on the importance of water on people’s health. Besides, it is rumored that Lithaios’ name is attributed to an ancient tradition, according to which, its waters and all of its innumerable springs had healing powers that brought relief and oblivion (lethe) to the patients’ sores.

Shortly, near the river springs and banks, made their appearance the first watermills and hydro-scrubbing places that exploited the region’s rushing waters energy. For many centuries they constituted the first family industrial units that enabled all the small villages to operate like small autonomous financial and social entities, utilizing this way their natural energy resources. Thus, they are considered the cornerstones of the villages’ survival as well as local development. The first watermills were constructed for the district’s need services. They were built in nodal spots, passages from plain to highlands, city centers to province, winter to summer pasturages.

The watermill is the first machine project humans ever made by exploiting the natural energy resources that came to replace the thus far existing hand or animal mills. Its operation was based on the potential energy of the rotation of the impeller that came from the water fall and transferred to the millstones. It was their lack of distance rotation that made the seed smash and turn into flour. In this way, raw materials such as wheat and corn seeds were turned into flour, to cover the residents’ alimentation needs. The responsibility for the right watermill’s operation, as well as the wheat’s outcome was resting upon the miller’s shoulders.

Since their first appearance, watermills are still directly linked to the region’s social life; they formed the meeting points of the fellow villagers for discussing various topics, including all the newsreel social issues.

Simultaneously, with almost parallel course, the first hydro-scrubbing places appeared, situated usually next to or at least, near watermills. A typical hydro-scrubbing spot was mainly consisting of the “dristela” and the “madani”.

Dristela was a natural washing machine whose function was based solely on the rush of water, excluding the use of detergents. Water was transferred through canals inside specifically shaped upright tubes, where it fell from height in big funnel-shaped bins. The fact that the water rush created small whirlpools was enough to clean in depth the rugs, handmade carpets, blankets and garments. The procedure was highly energy-giving and demanded a lot of fitness and muscle strength. The cleansing was followed by drying and storage, for materials to maintain clean for the winter months.

Madani was a wooden construction used for the finishing of the woolen weavings. Its operation was based on the spin of a camshaft, caused by the water power, putting four large wooden hammers in a four-step sequential reciprocation. In the edge of the device there was a wooden base in which the weavings were put and hit by the hammers while they got wet with running water. The friction of the woolen yarns caused by the stroke in combination with the low temperature originated by the cool water made the weavings thicker, tight in texture, softer and partially impervious to water.

Traditionally, it was the summer period, from start to end, when the hydro-scrubbing places operated. Each family carried its weavings and rugs once a year on horseback, to get washed and after drying, to return back home. This procedure was a duty of every devotee housewife and obligation of a good householder since it constituted a necessary condition for the start of winter season.

However, through the passage of time and the development of textiles, traditional handmade rugs and carpets were replaced by quilts and modern carpets, while the traditional hydro-scrubbing places by the contemporary carpet cleaners. Nonetheless, the Greek province and especially the region of Trikala, still resists to all this nowadays modernization with the operation of a considerable amount of hydro-scrubbing places that keep serving the tradition followers while providing an opportunity for a journey back in time.

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