Windmills

Mykonos island

The characteristic “Mili” (Windmills) are found south of Chora, in between the picturesque Alefkandra and Neochori. They impress visitors with their all-white overwhelming massive shapes, in a row facing the sea. The presence of windmills in insular Greece is documented in the beginning of 15th century. Later, during the late 18th century to the mid 19th century it is established that 28 windmills were functioning in Mykonos. Apart from the town, windmills functioned also in Ano Mera. Generally, high winds frequency in Mykonos favored this milling operation and marketing of cereals. The ownership of the mills was generally cooperative. Their owners were wealthy landowners, merchants, sailors, etc., which means they were people who held power and authority in each local community. Mills also belonged to monasteries, such as the Virgin Tourliani mainly as occasional effect of religious donations. During the 20th century, the final phase of the windmill history, several mill owners were millers themselves. There are many reasons why windmills are popular in Cyclades, because Cyclades are the most windy areas of the Mediterranean. Mykonos is especially windy, as there are no more than ten windless days per year, on average. By having a windmill, the residents were able to take advantage of an abundant source of energy, wind, and as a result they were able to improve the conditions of their lives in their small and remote island communities. Additionally, during times when wheat and barley were the basic ingredients of the local diet, the windmill served as a time and labour-saving machine. Today, seven, out of the ten mills which until beginning of the 20th century, would process the local wheat, using the unfailing power of the wind, have been preserved. The windmills of Mykonos, contributed to the economic growth of the island, as it became a necessary stop, for the purchase of paximadi (ship’s biscuit), for ships playing the Aegean. The “Bakery of Yiora”, in Neochori, with its wood-burning over, is a working example of the bakeries of past time.

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