The existence of water has always had the most vital part in the inhabitants' economical and social activities. The structure, the neighborhoods, the inhabitants' activities have a parallel course with the "water's path". A path that has been carved by the force of the movement of water for thousands of years, starting from the biggest spring in Zakros called "Mesa Mylos" reaching the gorge and continuing its course towards the sea.
The settlement was built along the course of water giving it this long shaping which it still has in our days. In the beginning the inhabitants grew only small vegetable gardens for their every day needs but later large expanses with olive trees were cultivated which are today fully irrigated and they produce Zakro's distinguished olive oil.
People couldn't leave unexploited the possibility given by water to move the engines they have invented to produce goods and improve their living standards. Therefore having taken advantage of the hydraulic power and the area's relief people built watermills along this water path in order to grind grain, small factories to produce olive oil and rasotrivia* to process woolen textile.
In the early 1900s Zakros constituted the center of an idiosyncratic "industrial area" since there were 11 watermills functioning. The watermill is considered to be the "factory" of the pre-industrial era.
A smart and simply functioned construction exploits the water power to move millstones while the whole process was under the control of only one person, the miller.
The grain usually grinded was barley and weat, which was cultivated around Zakros and the nearby areas. Many were those who came a long distance to grind the grain at the watermills of Zakros. The construction of a watermill was mainly of a simple right-angle shaping including the workroom, and in larger watermills, a room for the reception of customers and the miller's residence with a fireplace for cooking and heating. Next to the watermill there used to be a stable for animals and sometimes a wood-oven.
The well is probably the most impressive element as far as construction is concerned. Located above the watermills, 6 to 8 meters in height, it forwards the water to a propeller which moves the millstones to grind the grain which fell off the basket slowly and steadily always under the miller's supervision.
The Museum of Water in Zakros is housed in the restored watermills which were given away by the owner families in 1997. It is a theme museum whose aim is to gather every object or other material relative to the use of water in the past and also to make the importance of water known in our days as well, exploiting it correctly through rational use and respect.
The watermills which have been restored and formed to exhibitions are:
- "Brilakenas'" watermill. It was a property of Brilakis and N. Rodanakis family, built before 1900. there is a rasotrivio* nearby owned by N. Rodanakis.
- "Rodanovagelis'" watermill, built before 1900 by Vagelis Rodanakis' father. In the same space an olive oil factory functioned with the power of water.
- "Xopapa's" watermill, one of the oldest watermills. There is a wood-oven right outside.
rasotrivio* Small factory which processed woolen textile made