Take a walk up the hill from the Alfa Kafenion and if you turn off to the right just before the entrance of the Alfa Hotel, you’ll be more of less able to follow the route of the once extensive water works that drove the mills that supplied the flour for the whole of the Azogires area.
The theory behind the network was that water, initially collected from the river, was stored in a series of concrete cisterns above each factory. When needed, it was then extracted from the cisterns by gravity feed through channels and used to drive simple water turbines within the factory. Having been used, the water was then channelled into the next cistern in line to be stored for use further down the hill.
The remains of the network can be seen to start with a cistern at the top of the valley, just below the road but now hidden and partially destroyed, and lead on through a series of concrete water channels, ending up in a final cistern located just above the now abandoned olive oil factory by the Ever Green Plane tree.
The scheme was initially developed by the famous local priest Pater Papagregorakis towards the end of the 19th century and though now in ruins, in its day the complex of channels and cisterns provided the motive power for three flourmills, an olive oil factory and a tannery. To provide some measure of comfort for the Azogirans while waiting for the flour to be ground, and presumably some income when the mills weren’t working, a kafenion was located on the top of the building containing the third, lowest, flourmill and olive oil factory.
The first flourmill, the one at the top of the slope, along with one of the two lower flourmills, the old olive oil factory and kafenion, went out of use in the 1930’s although the tannery is believed to have continued in use for some time beyond this. The second flourmill was still in use, and still driven via the original water scheme, until the 1970’s.
Of the three mills only the second one now remains. The first flourmill has long fallen into ruins. The lower buildings, flourmill, olive oil factory and kafenion, were eventually demolished in the 1970’s to make way for a new olive oil factory that can still to be seen by the Ever Green Plane tree. Although driven by electricity, this new mill didn’t last as long as its water driven forerunners, closing in 1992. Planted next to the remains of the tannery, and having outlasted it, is fine specimen of Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis (Q. macrolepis), Valonia Oak or Velanidia; an oak that was deliberately planted here in order to harvest its large, long scaled acorn cups, from which a black dye was extracted for use in the tanning process
The best spot for something approaching an overall view of this impressive feat of engineering is standing at the Venetian style bridge. Here you can see both the channels running down towards you, the second and third cisterns behind you and just a bit downhill on the path towards the Ever Green Plane tree, the remains of the second flourmill.