Renowned in antiquity for its use as a dye and for its aphrodisiac and medicinal properties, saffron, the exotic crimson-colored spice derived from the purple Crocus flower (Crocus sativus), has been cultivated in the region Kozani in Western Macedonia since the 17th century. The world’s costliest spice by weight, sometimes more expensive than gold per ounce, Kozani saffron is widely referred to in Greece as “red gold.”
Krokos Kozanis, the saffron produced in the countryside surrounding the village of Krokos, 5 kilometers south of the small town of Kozani, is Protected Designation of Origin-certified thanks its exceptional quality, color and aroma. In recent days, a contract was signed signalling the construction of a new museum in the village that will showcase the area’s long history of its production – the first museum of its kind in Greece.
The new 1,200-square meter building in Krokos, which takes its name from the Crocus flower, will be located next door to the headquarters of the 1,000-strong Cooperative of Saffron Producers. The three million euro project is being undertaken by the Region of Western Macedonia, with financial support through a number of European funding programs.
Plans for the new building include traditional elements and several outdoor water features, typical of the local area, including a garden, small waterfalls and shallow lakes. It is hoped the new museum will be a major draw for tourism to the region, attracting visitors and spice merchants from around the world.
This article first appeared in Greece Is (www.greece-is.com), a Kathimerini publishing initiative.