The windmills are part of the typical Majorcan landscape so, if you decide to travel to Majorca, it is not strange to see some from your holiday house in Majorca.
Windmills are a very traditional element in Spain. For example, they appear in one of the best-known episodes of Don Quixote. In Majorca, they are also very common. The date of the first windmill is not known exactly, but there is evidence of its existence since the 13th century A.D. As an example, so you know how common windmills are: today, there are still almost 700 traditional windmills out of the almost 900 that existed in the past. It is almost impossible that during your holiday in Majorca, you do not cross with any or that you don’t find one near your villa in Majorca.
Types of windmills
The windmills you will find around Majorca are divided in two classes, depending on their function.
The oldest type. The first graphic testimony dates from 1468, in the altarpiece of Sant Jordi of Pere Niçard, but they did not become really popular until the 17th century, due to the significant increase of the population.
Their function, as its name implies, was to grind the grain─ mainly from the flour─ to feed the population.
From an architectural point of view, the flour windmills are circular plant towers, 3 to 5 stories high, accessed through a built-inside spiral staircase. They are usually built in stone, although we can also find them covered with lime.
These windmills appeared much later than the flour. The first windmill with a tower for water extraction was not built until the middle of 19th century, more than four centuries after the flour!
Their function is also perfectly described in its name: extracting water from the ground thanks to the force of the wind. The scarcity of water has traditionally been one of the biggest headaches for the island’s inhabitants; hence proliferation of these windmills.
As for its architecture, the water-pumping windmills vary much according to the area of the island, in materials, dimensions, construction style ... As a curious anecdote; the blades of the first ones were made with fabric from sails.
As Cervantes said, when you see from your villa in Majorca its imposing figures trimmed on the horizon do not fret:
"Look, your worship, what we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the sails."