Maybe few know that over time, there were several grain windmills operating on the island of Gozo. Certain sources note as many as fifteen windmills scattered over the different villages of the island, some of which dating back several centuries. A few have fallen in disrepair, others have been dismantled over time and some have been rebuilt or converted into private residencies.
It’s interesting to note that windmills were built within sight of each other such that the miller in one windmill had view of others. In this way, the windmills could serve as a form of communication system between the millers around the island. Most of the windmills found in Gozo have a square or rectangular base, with a cylindrical tower in the centre of the building. Usually one finds a series of rooms at the base of the building and the cylindrical tower features a spiral staircase that leads to the top of tower.
As the sails turned with the wind, they moved a heavy stone that ground the grain into the flour. On the days, when the wind was strong enough to operate the windmill, millers informed the local villagers by sounding the triton-shell or ‘bronja’ as it was locally known.
We’ve counted at least 13 windmills that one can still see standing on the island of Gozo!
- Maybe the most famous of all Gozitan windmills is the Ta’ Kola windmill (1, 2). Immaculately restored and kept, this windmill in Xagħra is like entering a time capsule. The windmill, dating back to the times of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, is today a Heritage Malta Museum presenting how the miller’s living quarters and workshop would have been when the mill was operational. In Xagħra, there is also another windmill.
- In Qala one can still see two windmills standing (3, 4). One complete with sails and tucked away in the village looks as if it is emerging from a storybook, whilst the other standing desolate in the fields on the outskirts is Qala is in a marked contrast with the first. One can also locate another windmill in Nadur (5), located in a small square, close to the centre of the village.
- Set at the main crossroads in Xewkija is the windmill (6) which was built by Grandmaster Perellos. The windmill was uniquely built in the shape of an octagon and each side is perfectly calibrated to match the compass points. The windmill was operational until a huge fire ravaged it in the nineteenth century. To this day, the Xewkija windmill includes the original stone oven. Other features of the windmill include the niche of Madonna of Purgatory, a basso relieve by Chev. Wistin Camilleri and the traditional red postbox.
- In Victoria one can find several windmills. Some are more easy to locate than others. One can find one windmill tucked away in Fontana (7) in an alley close to the Lunzjata Valley and another is located in the street, just off St. Francis Square, known as the windmill at Għajn Qatet (8). Yet another is found at the outskirts of Victoria in the area known as Ta’ Marziena (9) facing the village of Sannat. In Sannat, there is a windmill (10) that has been recently rebuilt by the Local Council on what was once the original windmill. This particular windmill tower is more of stump than a tower and in fact it is much lower than the others.
- On the western side of Gozo, one can still locate a windmill in Santa Lucija (11) just off the main square of the village. Another typical windmill is located in one of the main streets of Għarb (12). On the way to Ta’ Pinu, one can also glimpse a windmill (13) located close to the Aqueducts. Poised on a hill and in perfect vista over the surrounding countryside, this is also one of the windmills that many can recognise.
These windmills, the majority of which are private properties are like little gems, that give Gozo that extra special rural touch!