The Mills of Mallorca
When you land at Mallorca airport, the first thing that will catch your attention is the number of windmills waiting to welcome you. These windmills are used to extract water and have been part of the Mallorcan landscape since the mid-19th century, but there are more windmills to discover, and although they have an agricultural tradition, today they are part of a rich heritage and one of the most curious images of our island.
Today we explain you more about these endearing “giants” and don’t hesitate to discover with us much more about the historical and scenic heritage of Mallorca with our cultural routes. Sign up now!
TYPES OF MILLS
Mills have been used since ancient times for agricultural purposes, mainly for grinding grain. They are machines that harness a type of energy (from air, water or human or animal power) to convert it into rotational energy, moving a rigid body that rotates around a fixed axis. The first windmills, those using wind power, are believed to have appeared in Persia in the mid-7th century and reached Europe in the 10th century, although by the 12th century they were very popular throughout the continent.
Did you know that nowhere else in the world is there such a concentration of windmills as in Mallorca? There are more than 3,000 windmills that since 2004 the Balearic Government and the Consell de Mallorca have been trying to recover thanks to a restoration and conservation plan, as they are a symbol of the identity of our island. Don’t miss them!
In Mallorca there are already documented windmills for grinding flour before the Christian conquest, and since the 14th century there have been several windmills such as those in Levante and Poniente de Palma (Barrios del Molinar and el Jonquet) and in other areas of Mallorca, which today conserve part of their complex, and are even depicted in paintings from the period.
Mallorcan mills are characterised by having 6 blades in the shape of a graella (grid) and initially the circular tower was built on the ground, but in the 17th century and until the 19th century, construction on a platform that also served as a house began to become widespread. In the 17th century, with the increase in cereal production, the constitution of the professional guild and confraternity dedicated to San Lorenzo was promoted.
With the appearance of flour mills at the end of the 19th century and the technological change driven by new explosion and electric motors, these mills began a period of decline and abandonment until public institutions began to take an interest in them, in their protection and restoration. Today there are 622 flour windmills in Mallorca.
WATER EXTRACTION MILLS
The first mills of this type were designed by the Dutch engineer Paul Bouvij in the mid-19th century as part of a plan to drain the area known today as the Pla de Sant Jordi. Their mission was to extract groundwater from what was then a lagoon, and they were initially very similar to flour mills, with a base, circular tower, capital and between 6-8 blades.
Soon they began to be designed specifically for their function, using wooden slats instead of blades that opened and closed like a fan. These were known as molins de ramell, and in the 1870s an arrowhead tail was incorporated to replace the manual rudder and allow the mill to orient itself automatically so as to make better use of the force of the wind.
In the 1930’s, following the same operation as the previous ones, the well-known molins de ferro (iron mills) appeared, which replaced wood with steel and were built on a square base; they are the most abundant on the island today. In the 1960s they began to be abandoned due to the replacement of engines and the decline of agriculture in the face of the incipient tourist industry and the progressive salinisation of groundwater.
Today, there are still some 2,300 of these mills in the municipalities of Campos, Sa Pobla and Palma.
Unlike the previous mills, the blood mill is the one that is moved by animal power, generally in Mallorca by someras (a type of Mallorcan donkey). They are generally found in the possesions (rustic estates for family use) and were mainly used to grind grain, although they were also used to grind other products or to produce oil, in this case they are called trujal. Although hundreds of mills are documented in historical references, there is no current inventory of this type of mill.
RESTAURANTS IN THE MILLS
Many of the windmills have adapted to the economic transformation of Mallorca and have used the old dwellings at their base to become restaurants, such as the charming Sa Farinera restaurant, next to the airport, which offers a familiar and traditional environment. Its speciality in grilled meats has made it one of the favourite restaurants of the locals for generations, or the Moli d’en Pau in Sineu, a village in the centre of the island, which offers an exquisite menu of traditional and signature local gastronomy in an incomparable setting.
MUSEUM OF THE MILLS
Discover more secrets of the world of windmills by visiting the Museu del Molins, located in the emblematic Jonquet neighbourhood, with its seafaring tradition and spectacular views of the Bay of Palma. This museum offers guided tours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:00 to 13:00 and is managed by the social foundation Amadip, which works for the labour inclusion of people with disabilities on the island.
Make an appointment at https://esmentguies.es/visitas/museu-dels-molins-moli-den-garleta/
Long live the Mills!