Windmills, symbol of balearic rural arquitecture

   A local poet defined in one of his poetic expressions, vell molí fariner, en la tarda que declina somia pols de farina i canços de moliner, resta mut i ruinos i encara aixeca orgullós l'alta torre que s'enfila, orfe d'antena i vent ja no moldra diligent el blat daurat de la vila (Old flour mill, at the end of the evening, I dream of flour and miller’s songs, it is now silent and in ruins but the tall tower proudly stands still, orphaned of sails and wind, no more will it grind the golden corn for the local village), these emblematic rural buildings, today a long way from their use of years gone by, but which fill the island with beauty and popular architecture.

   Throughout the history of the Balearic Islands there have not existed any kind of rural building which has identified so much with the island of Majorca as have the windmills or "molins de vent". They are differentiated depending on their use in olden times into flourmills or water extraction mills. On arrival by plane to the island, we land among the windmills that welcome the tourist on the "Pla de Sant Jordi".

   The windmills date back as far as the XV century. This now disused type of construction is still a typical image of the island that is well documented and even appears on a Sant Jordi altarpiece representing XV century rural Majorca. Their presence was merely symbolic in the XVII century and in the XVIII the building of windmills reached its zenith and windmills appeared in the island capital neighbourhoods and in different towns all over the island, above all in Manacor, Felanitx, Campanet and Montuïri. There were as many as a thousand windmills just on the island of Majorca at the peak of their popularity. The flourmill has a tower erected on a base. These were introduced in the XIV and XV centuries, they were put to grinding grain, salt and other materials. They were spread all over the island of Majorca.

   The windmills were used by Majorcan farmers to grind grain and to make flour. These agricultural buildings are characterised by their tall towers reaching as much as ten metres in height. The miller usually had the house where the cotton sails were hung from the rooftop terrace. The tower was topped off with reeds where the sails (usually six or eight) sprout out. On the last floor the millstones which crushed the grain can be found.

    This type of windmill was introduced on the island in the XVIII century. They are differentiated by their varied sail types. The lateen sail mill (Selva), the flour mills with lateen and tail sails (Manacor and Llucmajor), the narrow tower ones from the XIX century which were used to grind grain and salt and which appeared all over the island.

   Nowadays, most of the windmills can be seen on the "El Pla" or centre of Majorca. They are water extraction mills different from the flourmills. This symbol of rural windmills appeared much later than the flourmills. They were built throughout the XIX century and were described by Pope Pious IX as "bianchi mulini" because of his admiration.

   The important work of cataloguing and describing the mills by the "Amics dels molins" (Friends of the Windmills) must be recognised. The water extraction mills can be found on the "Pla de Sant Jordi" and are used to water the crops in the area. For the same reason they can also be found in the area around Muro and Sa Pobla, these two places being the areas with the highest agricultural production on the island.

   There are also different types of water extraction windmills with variations in the sails such as the "Ramell" mill (introduced by Damián Reixach in 1854) or the "Ramell" tailed mill (Palma, Sant Jordi, Campos and Ses Salinas) and the mills in Sa Pobla and Muro which are very interesting because of the Grand "Ramell" type of sails that were introduced in the 1880’s.

   More information:
   Los Molinos de Mallorca
   Molinos de Mallorca - Departament de Mediambient i Natura del Consell de Mallorca

Related Articles:
Balearic Islands - Discover the architecture of the Possessions
Balearic Islands - The Balearic Island countryside
Majorca - Flowering season of the almond tree, Balearic Islands

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