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Greece » Cyclades islands » Folegandros island » Folegandros Sightseeing » The Ecology and Folk Museum at Ano Meria
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The Ecology and Folk Museum at Ano Meria

The Folk Museum of the island, situated at Ano Meria, is in fact a representative sample of a traditional farm of the 19 th century, a “themonia” as the locals call the complex which in other islands of Cyclades is called “chorio” (“village”). As it is totally authentic, the Museum gives a pretty accurate picture of how this kind of farms used to operate in the past.

The Museum is comprised of four separate buildings, the older of which is more than two hundred years old, whereas the most recent was constructed some years ago, in the same architectural style as the rest of them. You will see several objects: tools, furniture and utensils of everyday use. Several of them have been collected from the “themonies” and the houses of the island. Among the exhibits of the Museum are: a loom, big jars for storing liquids, various types of handmade baskets and an original wooden mouse trap of local origin.

The walls of the older building are made of stone and they are not plastered, so that the wall is camouflaged and not discerned form afar, as the island suffered very often from pirates’ attacks. The building is topped with compact soil mixed with seaweeds. This roof is supported by roof timber made of the local tree called “feida” (a kind of cypress tree). The floor is made of compact earth, the so-called “patossi”. Very close to the house, the large basin (of a capacity of some 100 cubic meters) collects the rainwater.

The more recent building, dated in the late 19 th to early 20 th century has three rooms and both the exterior and the interior is plastered and white washed, a feature that reflects the new tendencies of the traditional architecture: the people do not risk to suffer an attack anymore, so it is not necessary that the house is camouflaged. In this building you will see the equipment of everyday life of the past, arranged in the same way as they would be in a real house of the period.

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The third building, also made of stone, has been constructed in the last decades and houses a small library and a room for the scholars wishing to stay here and study the history and everyday life of Folegandros.

At the outdoor space of the Museum, the visitor can see a full representation of the typical traditional farm of Folegandros, the “themonia”. This type of house was in fact a complex of buildings and of open-air constructions that assured the full economic autonomy of the people living there. Everything necessary for food and living was produced in those units. The products could cover the needs of a large family and their animals. Until the mid 20 th century most of those houses were still in use, but today only a few of them continue to operate in the same way.

The outdoor constructions are: a small threshing floor where the residents threshed in the afternoon the cereals they had reaped all day long; there is also a small winepress, which in fact is a carved rock, and the “plystria”, a wash-tub- like construction found on the dry stone surrounding wall. At one end of the yard, it is situated the oil-press: it is a heavy cylindrical stone on a round stone base. The olives where placed on the base and three men would rotate the cylinder on them, so that the olives were reduced to pulp. After this process the pulp was brought in the nearby tiny room, where they pressed it again, with the help of a construction purposely made, which is also displayed. The olive oil extracted was stored in ceramic jars. This room also served for storing several tools and other equipment. Just beside this room it is situated the oven of the house, which operated with brushwood and not with wood as in other places. Here the housewife would bake bread, meats, pies and sweets. This room, apart from housing the oven, also served as the place for the preparation of bread and it is here that they stored all vessels and utensils necessary for this process. When the family moved to the new building, the room where they lived became the cellar, where, apart from the wine, they also stored the foodstuff available and some useful equipment.

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At the northern end of the “themonia” there is the barn, where in past times were housed the animals of the family. Today this building has been transformed to a lavatory. Finally, you will certainly observe a round stone construction of a height of some 1,5 meter with a lemon tree inside. It is the so-called “perivoli” and it aims at protecting the delicate lemon tree from the strong, merciless northern wind. The locals used to construct this building gradually, following the growth of the tree and they always took care that the tree stands only some 15 – 20 cm. out of the “perivoli”. The construction is common, not only in Ano Meria, but also in other places on the island.

Around the complex of the buildings there are found the fields of the family, where they cultivated all the products necessary, along with a small vineyard, a vegetable garden and a few fruit bearing trees.

The Museum was established by the cultural association of the island “Folegandros” and opened to the public in 1988. In summer the Museum is open every day in the afternoon, whereas during the rest of the year you may visit it only after you have contacted the lady who looks after it. She will willingly open the museum for you and, if you can understand Greek, she will serve as your guide in the Museum.

The Museum is found at the entrance of Ano Meria and access is easy by the public bus. The driver will leave you at the public road and you will walk for 3-4 minutes until arriving to the Museum. If you are fit enough, you may walk all the way from Chora, a distance of some 5 kilometers.
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