The windmills of the Azores

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If you have been to the Azores, you have noticed the many windmills in the different islands. Windmills began to be built in the 16th century and were essential to the development of the islands’ economy, because grinding cereals was a cornerstone of their food production. Windmills also have a significant historical meaning, since they are the heritage of the island’s colonisation by both Flemish and Portuguese settlers. Some mills have a characteristic rectangular grid sail, which is typically Flemish while others have triangular Portuguese sails. Have a look at some of the most beautiful windmills of the Azores.

1. The Windmills of Corvo Island, Azores

What to visit in Corvo Island Azores

There are three mills left in the island of Corvo, and locals recall having had seven windmills in total. They were built ion the late XIX century and early XX century and have been beautifully restored. The three are conical and built in stone, in the typical Portuguese style. Two of them were plastered and painted in white, while one of them remains in natural stone. The rooftops rotate and from there comes out the system of the triangular sails. They are all located in the southern tip of Corvo, next to the aerodrome, so you can’t miss them. They have You will notice that locals come to this area to have their daily walks, because the road around the aerodrome is the only flat road they have.

2. The Windmills of Faial Island, Azores

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There are 39 windmills in the island of Faial, most of them have not been recovered yet and only 11 are considered buildings of public interest. They were built in the late XIX century, and were essential to the development of the economy of the island, at the time based on the production and grinding of several cereals. They also have a significant historical meaning, since they are the heritage of the island colonisation by both the Flemish settlers and the Portuguese from mainland. Some mills have the characteristic rectangular grid sail, which is typical Flemish while others have the Portuguese triangular sails. They are rotating windmills, with wooden structures, access ladders, and painted in red.

3. The Windmills of Pico Island

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The mill that stands in the middle of the famous vineyards of Pico is called Moinho de Frade and it is an accurate copy of the original that existed there, built in the XX century. It is a rotating wind mill, which still retains the original grinding mechanism inside. The mill can be visited in summer. It is characterised by a cone-shaped stone base with a substantial timber upper structure called a casota, or ‘little house’ in English.

4. The windmills of São Jorge

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The windmills that appear along the coastal line of Urzelina are called the ‘Mills of Mistérios’. Contrary to the usual practice, these mills do not show on top of hills. Here, they profit from the winds that come from the sea. The typical windmills of São Jorge have a stone conical shaped base, with a tall tower and a narrow wooden component that supports two or four cloth sails that act as propellers for the windmills. There are versions of rotating wood mills and fixed stone mills.

5. The windmills of Terceira

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In Terceira we found a mixture of Flemish and Portuguese styled mills. They all were beautifully made and many have been restored. It is worth to keep an eye on these windmills and, more importantly, it is so good to see that there has been an effort to keep them working.

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6. The windmills of São Miguel

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This windmill is one of the so called ‘Dutch’ type mill and is found mainly on São Miguel, Santa Maria and Graciosa Islands. They are easily recognisable because of their conical stone-built base with a wooden semi-ovoid rotating roof, and often have four cloth-covered sails. This beautiful example has been converted into a guesthouse.

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