Let's See Those Wondrous Windmills

Windmills were a subject of fascination long before Don Quixote mistook one for a giant. And why not? Windmills have been making life easier and more sustainable for centuries. Much more than simple rustic power plants or rote tools of production, they are also engineering marvels, historic treasures, and artistic masterpieces, all spun up together into one structure!

(Image: Mathew Schwartz/Public Domain)

In northeastern Iran, for more than 1,000 years, the Nashtifan Windmills, considered some of the oldest in the world, have been milling grains to create flour. Atop the hills of Consuegra, Spain sit a row of 12 picture-perfect white windmills presiding over the landscape, with a medieval castle as their backdrop. These 16th-century windmills are believed to be the same windmills the Man of La Mancha himself tried to fight in Miguel de Cervantes’s classic novel. These are just a few examples of the world’s most wondrous windmills, but now we want to hear about the most beautiful and incredible windmills that you’ve ever encountered!

In the thread below, tell us about some of the most incredible windmills you’ve ever come across. Where was it located, what made it so unforgettable? Both ancient and modern examples are fair game! Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well. Your response may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura.


I like the Shirley Windmill in Croydon, South-West London, because it’s just sitting there in the middle of some houses. You’re just walking past some very ordinary fairly modern houses in a suburban area and suddenly there’s a windmill at the end of the street. It’s a genuine working windmill - built in 1854 on the site of an older mill and in use until 1890



Well, the Netherlands of course is one of the best places to see windmills, many of which are functional. Visited Kinderdijk which features 19 mills and 3 pumping stations, plus dikes and reservoirs that control flooding in the polder (low-lying land) in 2017. A few are open to the public and offer demonstrations of their functioning. Others are privately held so not open. Interesting to learn about the extensive education and testing required to be a licensed windmill operator in the Netherlands as well. Here are a couple of photos:


The Saxtead Green Post Mill in East Suffolk, England is a great example. In a post mill the entire windmill structure rotates with the sails, whereas on a tower mill like Celia_G posted above only the top of the structure rotates. Thus, post mills carry their fan tails lower and a bit further back to get a good moment on turning the structure. The Saxtead Green mill weighs 18 tons and can be cranked around by hand by just one person.

Photograph © Bob Paterson


I wish I could remember exactly where I took this picture, but it was back in 2009 and the closest I could narrow it down to is somewhere in Burgundy, France.


Here’s another famous, albeit non-functioning windmill. :smile:


If your photo was taken with a mobile phone, you should be able to view the “EXIF” data about the photo, which may contain the GPS coordinates to see where it was taken. On an iPhone, while viewing the photo, just push upwards to reveal the map. I’m sure Android devices have something similar.

1 Like

Can’t decide on a favourite, I have so many.
Displayed here, in consecutive messages:

  1. famous 8-storey mill in NE Amsterdam, next to the brewery
  2. mill in the grounds of the old Citadel in Copenhagen
  3. Iceland’s only windmill on the puffin-populated isle of Vigur




Super cool windmill! Thanks for sharing :fist:

I like windmill in Kuzelov - eastern Moravia on the Czech-Slovak border. Its not exactly technical wonder, but it kept secretly working during WW2, so it probably saved many people and partisans from starvation, during German occupation. I was small forgotten place and others mill could make flour only under supervision of authorities.


That has to be a pretty cool neighborhood to live in. Thanks for sharing

1 Like

I like the windmill on Nansen’s FRAM in the Arctic on their drift across the top of the world emulating the drift of the JANNETTE .


Very similar to the Impington Windmill now in a suburb of Cambridge, U.K, which delighted me when I lived there for a year as in Australia windmills are boring metal structures dotted around the countryside and certainly not beautiful wooden structures at the end of the street :slight_smile:impington%20windmillaustralian%20windmill


And the other less glamorous ‘moulin’ in Montmartre :wink:
The windmill Blute-fin was built in 1622 and often repaired. The name comes from the French verb ‘bluter’ which means to sift flour. In 1814, during the siege of Paris one of the owners strongly defended the windmill against Russian Cossacks. They killed him and nailed him to the sails of the windmill :open_mouth:
In 1870, the owner Charles-Nicolas Debray, added a guinguette, a popular style of drinking establishment with a dancing room. It was called ‘Moulin de la Galette’. Guinguettes outside the city limits of Paris were popular because they offered public dancing and cheap alcohol which was not available inside the limits.
It was later used as a music-hall, radio and television studio. It was closed in 1974 and is now private property. It was restored in 1978, but is not running. Renoir and other artists painted scenes from the Guinguette moulin%20montemartre


Unfortunately, it was taken over 10 years ago with a point and shoot camera, which means no GPS coordinates.

The windmill pumping water into a storage tank is exactly like the ones all over southeast Pennsylvania on Amish farms. I would have thought them too mundane to be special enough to be shown here, so I was delighted to see this photo. Where is this one located?

I love the steel windmills in Australia. As a child they looked to me like giant dandelions growing out of the large paddocks out bush.

1 Like

The Victorian countryside in Australia. They are everywhere here so yes pretty mundane! But have their attraction I guess…