Known for its striking white buildings, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife, the Greek island of Mykonos is a paradise for travelers seeking a blend of history, culture, and leisure. Among its many iconic landmarks, the windmills of Mykonos hold a special place, gracing countless postcards and attracting thousands of visitors each year. But why does Mykonos have windmills? Let’s delve into the rich history and fascinating stories behind these iconic structures.
The Windmills of Mykonos: A Historical Overview
The island of Mykonos, part of the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea, is known for its meltemi winds. These strong, dry north winds have been a characteristic feature of the island for centuries. Recognizing the potential of these winds, the inhabitants of Mykonos built windmills to harness their power.
The first windmills on Mykonos were constructed by the Venetians in the 16th century, at a time when the island was under Venetian rule. These early windmills were primarily used to grind grain, a major economic resource for the island. By converting wind energy into mechanical energy, the windmills played a crucial role in the island’s prosperity, turning Mykonos into a major hub for grain distribution in the Aegean region.
The Architecture of the Windmills
Mykonos’ windmills are unique in their architecture. They are typically cylindrical in shape, made of a sturdy stone base to withstand the strong winds. The cap of the windmill, where the sails are attached, is usually covered in a protective layer of straw or reed. Inside, a single room houses the grinding mechanism and storage space for the grain.
- Positioning: The windmills are strategically positioned to take full advantage of the meltemi winds. Most are found in the neighborhood of Chora, the island’s main town, specifically on a hill known as Windmill Hill.
- Orientation: The windmills face northwest, aligning with the direction of the meltemi winds. This orientation maximizes their efficiency.
- Sails: Unlike many traditional windmills, the sails of the Mykonos windmills are not made of cloth. Instead, they are made of wood, providing better resistance against the strong winds.
From Economic Utility to Tourist Attraction
With the advent of modern technology and the decline of the grain industry, the windmills of Mykonos gradually lost their primary function. However, they have managed to reinvent themselves as a major tourist attraction. Today, they are one of the most photographed landmarks on the island, offering stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding landscape.
The windmill of Boni (also known as the Agricultural Museum) is particularly noteworthy. Converted into a museum, it offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the inner workings of a traditional windmill. It houses an exhibition of farming tools and machinery, providing an insight into the island’s agricultural past.
The windmills of Mykonos are much more than just picturesque structures on a beautiful landscape. They are a testament to the island’s rich history, its resourceful inhabitants, and their ability to harness the power of nature. Whether you’re an avid history enthusiast or simply a traveler looking for the perfect photo opportunity, the windmills of Mykonos are a must-see on your Greek island adventure.
So why does Mykonos have windmills? The answer lies in the island’s historical prosperity, its geographical features, and its ability to adapt and transform. The windmills of Mykonos are a symbol of the island’s past and present, standing tall against the azure backdrop of the Aegean Sea, embodying the spirit of Mykonos in their timeless charm.
Planning a trip to Mykonos?
Check out “Where to Stay in Mykonos in 2024” for top tips on the coolest areas and comfiest hotels, perfect for any travel style or budget. Get the inside scoop here and make your Mykonos adventure unforgettable!
5 Mykonos hotels near Paradise beach
Where to Stay in Mykonos on a Budget
The 15 Best Mykonos Hotels on the Beach
Mykonos vs Santorini. Which one is better to visit?
The 15 best Mykonos Hotels with Private Pools
Mykonos Nightlife Guide: The 20 best bars, night clubs and Beach clubs in Mykonos
Best area to stay in Mykonos
Where to stay in Mykonos: Beach or Town
Best 5 Star Hotels in Mykonos
Best time to visit Mykonos
Best Suite Hotels in Mykonos
Best Mykonos Hotels near Nammos
Best Mykonos Hotels near Town
Best Mykonos Hotels for Yoga
Mykonos to Athens by Ferry or Flight