Windmills in Malta

Adding a genteel touch to the Maltese skyline, windmills are rare in numbers these days but could be found in every village in the past.

A definitive part of the urban landscape, the Maltese stone windmill is a uniquely beautiful structure. Serving as grain mills, these stone buildings were once found in almost every town and village. While today only a handful are completely intact and include the sails, the robust windmills are commonplace throughout the Islands and nonetheless add charm to their villages.

Many of the mills were built around the time of the Knights of St. John, employing technology used previously in Rhodes (the former seat of the Order). The typical structure of the windmills includes a vertical stone cylinder housing the shaft and mechanics of the mill. The cylinder is surrounded by a square or rectangular building, typically of two storeys.

The ground floor was normally used for the maintenance of the mill and baking of bread, while the first floor housed the living quarters for the miller and his family.

The best-known example is the 18th century Ta' Kola Windmill, located in Xagħra, Gozo. This restored windmill includes sails and is in fully working order. The mill houses a small folklore museum featuring tools and artefacts used by the miller, including a triton-shell that the miller would blow in to alert neighbours that the wind is strong enough to grind their grains.

Did you know?

  • The famous eight-pointed Maltese Cross symbolizes the 8 obligations of the Knights of St John: Truth, faith, repent of sins, humility, justice, merciful, sincere and enduring persecution.
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