Where Are A Bunch Of Old Windmills?

Windmills have been an important part of human history for centuries. The earliest known windmills originated in Persia during the 7th century CE and were used to grind grain or pump water. Windmills proved to be an effective technology that allowed people to harness the power of the wind to perform essential tasks.

The use of windmills spread from Persia to the Middle East and Central Asia during the Middle Ages. European crusaders brought the concept back from the Holy Land in the 12th century. Windmills quickly proliferated across Europe, with their use peaking in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Netherlands is particularly well known for its iconic windmills used for a variety of industrial purposes.

Today, while windmills are no longer heavily used for milling or pumping, many historic windmills still exist around the world. These windmills serve as cultural symbols and reminders of how this technology revolutionized past societies. Windmill designs have also evolved into modern wind turbines that now generate clean electricity.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is well known for its many windmills located throughout the country, especially in the village of Kinderdijk which contains 19 majestic windmills. These windmills were mainly used for draining water out of the lowlands and polders to prevent flooding. The first windmills were built in the Netherlands in the 14th century and served as an important technology to keep the country habitable and develop new farmland. By the mid-18th century, there were over 10,000 windmills in the Netherlands being used for industrial purposes.

Today, Kinderdijk is home to the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands and is a popular tourist attraction. The 19 mills are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and provide insight into Dutch history and how windmills shaped the landscape. The mills are lined up impressively along canals and many still have their original mechanisms intact. Visitors can go inside some of the windmills to see how they operate and learn about life as a miller in past centuries.

In addition to Kinderdijk, the Dutch provinces of South Holland, North Holland, Friesland and Zeeland also contain high densities of historic windmills from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The windmills are seen as cultural symbols and an iconic part of the Dutch landscape.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to many historic windmills, with notable examples found across England. One region with a high concentration of old windmills is the county of Norfolk in East Anglia. Throughout Norfolk, visitors can discover windmills that date back several centuries and are now preserved as heritage sites.

The Norfolk Broads area is especially renowned for its picturesque windmills. Located in the river valleys of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Broads were once important centers of commerce powered by windmills. While some Broads windmills are still operational, most now serve as museums that offer a window into the area’s past. Windmills like Stracey Arms Mill and How Hill Trust allow people to tour the windmills and learn about their history and mechanics.

Norwich, the most populous city in Norfolk, is also home to several old windmills. The Cow Tower stands as a prominent landmark along the River Wensum, built in the 14th century with a later windmill addition. Whitlingham Windmill is a cylindrical tower mill dating from the mid-1800s that remains intact. And the ruins of St. Martin’s Windmill from the 1700s can still be seen, reminding visitors of the area’s windmill heritage. With so many historic windmills across Norfolk, it is clear why this region of England has such strong associations with old windmills.


Spain is home to many picturesque old windmills, especially in the famous La Mancha region. This arid high plateau is dotted with hundreds of antique windmills from the 16th-18th centuries. Their tall, whitewashed towers and slowly spinning sails are an iconic part of the Spanish landscape.

The windmills of La Mancha were built to grind grain into flour. They represent an ingenious solution to harness the strong windswept across this dry central region. The most well-preserved windmills are located around the towns of Consuegra, Mota del Cuervo, Campo de Criptana, and Socuéllamos.

historic windmills dot the la mancha landscape in spain

These windmills were featured prominently in the classic novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The tale tells of an errant knight who famously attacked the windmills, mistaking them for evil giants. This helped cement the windmills as a symbol of La Mancha and its long literary history.

Today, many of the windmills have been restored and are open to visitors. They provide an enchanting look into Spain’s past landscapes and technology. Wandering among the windmills offers a magical glimpse into the country’s heritage of innovation and adaptation.


Portugal is home to many beautiful historic windmills, with several areas in particular boasting high concentrations of these old stone structures. The Alentejo region in southern Portugal is dotted with traditional windmills, most dating from the 19th century. These whitewashed windmills with their signature conical towers were once an important part of the rural economy, used for grinding grain into flour. The windmills are picturesque symbols of Portugal’s agricultural past.

The Algarve region also has clusters of old windmills, such as around the towns of Tavira and Vila do Bispo. The Cape St. Vincent region at the southwestern tip of Portugal was historically known for its high winds and is home to several restored windmills. Scattered windmills can also be found near the medieval castle town of Óbidos and the coastal city of Setúbal. Many of these windmills have been preserved and repurposed into museums, shops, restaurants, and hotels, keeping their historic charm alive. For any visitor interested in Portugal’s history and architecture, seeing these windmills is a delightful experience.


Greece is home to many historic windmills thanks to the strong winds that blow across the Aegean Sea. The Greek islands of Milos, Tinos and Chios are particularly known for their iconic windmills.

Milos has several windmills that date back to the 19th century when the island economy was dependent on wind power. The most famous is Papafrangas, a stone windmill built in the early 1800s that operated until the 1950s. It has been restored and is now open to the public.

Tinos island has the largest concentration of windmills in the Cyclades island group. Most were built from the 18th to 20th centuries to grind wheat. The hilltop village of Chora contains several picturesque windmills with whitewashed walls and wood and stone interiors.

On Chios island, stone windmills can be found dotting the countryside, especially in the mastic-producing southern regions. The island’s windmills ground mastic into powder for medicinal purposes. Some have been restored for accommodation or museums.

United States

The United States is home to many historical windmills, especially in New England. The windmills of Cape Cod in Massachusetts are an iconic example. Cape Cod was home to hundreds of windmills during the 1800s, when they were an important power source for pumping water and processing crops like salt and lumber. Though many have been lost, several windmills still stand in Cape Cod towns like Eastham, Dennis, and West Barnstable. These include the Nickerson Windmill and the Old Mill. Another area with a wealth of old windmills is California. The towering windmills in the San Francisco Bay Area date back to the mid-1800s when they were critical for pumping water and grinding grain. Many can still be seen dotting the landscape today, reminders of California’s pioneering past.


South Australia is home to some of the oldest working windmills in the country. Scattered across the landscape, these antique windmills stand as monuments to the early pioneers who settled the land and harnessed the power of wind to pump water for crops and livestock.

In the mid-1800s, windmills became vital tools for opening up the interior regions of South Australia by providing a reliable source of water where none existed naturally. The first windpumps were imported from England by the early settlers, while later models were manufactured in South Australia itself. Brands like Southern Cross became the standard for farmers across the state.

Many heritage-listed windmills can still be seen on farms around places like Clare Valley and Barossa Valley. The ruins of older stone windmills also dot the landscape, giving insights into how early settlers battled the harsh environment. Some of the oldest windpumps date back to the 1870s.

South Australia’s windmills not only aided development but became iconic symbols of the state’s pioneering past. Their continued preservation is a living reminder of the ingenuity and perseverance required to survive in Australia’s unforgiving outback.


India is home to a number of old and historic windmills, particularly in the western state of Rajasthan. Scattered across the arid landscape, these windmills testify to the ingenuity of ancient engineers in harnessing the power of the wind. One prime example is the Mukundara Hills near the city of Jodhpur, dotted with ruins of centuries-old windmills constructed from stone. These windmills with their skeletal wooden sails rising from the rocky cliffs are an iconic and unforgettable sight. Though no longer functional, they remain as reminders of the simple yet effective technology that allowed people to pump water in this dry desert region. Tourists flock to this windmill graveyard today, not just to admire these engineering marvels of the past but also to enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape from these breezy hilltops. The sheer concentration of old windmills here makes Mukundara Hills one of the most fascinating windmill destinations in all of India.


The iconic old windmills can be found in several countries around the world where they have historical and cultural significance. Some of the main regions known for their picturesque old windmills include the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Greece and parts of the United States. The Netherlands is particularly renowned for its large collection of well-preserved windmills, especially in areas like Kinderdijk. The UK also has important sites like Windmill World in Lincolnshire. Portugal’s Alentejo region contains many old windmills standing against scenic backdrops. Overall, while the technology has advanced, the captivating charm and beauty of old windmills endures as a reminder of simpler times.

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