In western Crete, where rainfalls are quite frequent, water mills were used for grinding grain. However, in drier Eastern Crete residents used the wind for their needs. Indeed, many clusters of windmills, called milotopi, are met in most places, especially at northern Mirabelo. The windmills of Ambelos at Lassithi Plateau form the largest milotopi in Greece. Apart from grinding grain, the need for pumping water to irrigate crops at the plateaus of Lassithi and Ziros inspired the construction of lightweight metal windmills that pumped water from wells.
About 12.000 metal windmills operated in the middle of the previous century at Lassithi Plateau, forming the first wind farm in the world with estimated installed power of 5MW.
At position Seli Ambelou, at the northern entrance to the Lasithi Plateau, we are welcomed by the most important old windmill park of Crete. Here you still see 24 of the 27 initial windmills, which all belonged to the type Axetrocharis.
North of Fourni village, Merambelo district, we still meet one of the most impressive windmill park of Crete. There are still standing 13 windmills in a row at location Galaropetra. Others survive in good condition and others have collapsed.
Only a few meters south of the stone bridge of Astraki we find the stunning watermill of Paterikos, preserved in very good condition and it is of the very few mills that existed in Crete and were double, meaning that the carried through the stone channels was divided into two different fall-towers and so. correspondingly, there were two different rotors for moving the millstones.
At the village Koxari near Heraklion we meet a very nice and short trail, ideal for a short walk in nature and a little getaway not far from the city. This trail starts through the narrow streets of the village and moves to the south till the spring of Mesa Vrissi which gives life to the small valley of Koxari. The entire route is in the shade of the plane trees and the oak trees alternating throughout the route with orange, walnut and other fruit trees.
One of the mills in Lassithi plateau preserved in quite good condition is the watermill of Plati, located on a slope slightly higher than the village in a wooded location with old oaks, platans and other trees. The watermill in Plati hosts a large stone cistern where water was collected and used later for grinding the grain.
Within walking distance from the ruined village Argiro Nero, between the villages Zenia and Exo Potami we meet the small cluster of windmills of Katakalou. The mills are located in the same residential complex of Katakalou among vineyards and orchards. The mills operated after the destruction of the larger mill park of Zaroma, west of Mesa Potami.
At this point there is a rough unknown windmill group that consisted of 10 mills and operated until May 1867. In these mills, local chieftains had gathered their wounded men during the titanic ten-day battle of Lassithi.
Lassithi plateau hosted, after the 1950s, the first, largest and most beautiful wind farm in the world with approximately 13000 windmills with a total installed power of above 5MW. The windmills operated as pumping engines above the wells of the plain to water the crops in summer.
During the battle of Lassithi in 1867, the 10 windmills that stood near Potami village and were mainly used for milling, were destroyed by the Turks. The windmill park was then moved to Katakalou and Asfendami areas, and later moved to the big mill park of Ambelos.
One of the large windmill parks of Merambelo district is located at Vrouhas village and consists of nine mills. They all turned only in a certain wind and their type is called Axetrocharis (this has rectangular shape with a round side where the mill is installed). In Crete we meet another type, Xetroharis that is completely circular, turning to all winds.
Contrary to the tradition of building mills on mountains, on the seaside of Elounda ancient saltpans we meet three windmills, at the scenic point where a canal connecting the lagoon with the south shores has been constructed. They all are completely circular, turning to all winds (this type is called Xetrocharis.
It is a two-room mill of the years of Venetian rule. It functioned as a mill of any kind of flour, until 1960. It is a unique sample of a mill with two carved stone and wooden water towers “Vagenas” (water pipelines in the rotors).
On the road that connects village Vori with the palace of Phaestus and next to the banks of river Geropotamos, we meet the ruined watermill of the area that locals call Gerontomylos (old mill). It is said that the area around the mill was a favorite place for the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis.
Bitzariano is a small abandoned scenic settlement close to Kastelli, Pediada district, and a suburb of Karouzana village. It name is taken after the surname Bitzarakis. Near the village runs the river that gathers water from the north Kasteli plain. The value of water was very high, as the locals built many watermills in order to shred the grain of the area.
Just a few meters out of the village Gonies at province Malevizi, on the road that leads to the beautiful village Kamaraki with the two wonderful caves, we meet Paliomylos (Old Mill). The Paliomylos is one of the many mills that once decorated the ravines of the island
The Mill of Gazepis near the village Nipiditos has been declared a protected monument by the Modern Monuments Service. Here, Mathios Apostolakis from Nipiditos who was called with the nickname Gazep (ie "reactionary"), in the 19th century built a windmill.
On top of a hill just above the village of Gasi, by Arkalochori, in the area called Mili (mills) we meet an impressive windmill. The location is the highest of the whole area and offers unique views to the villages of the plain of Arkalochori. The windmill of Gasi is the only one that has survived. The windmill is of the type of xetrocharis which is circular and is able to rotate according to the wind direction. This type of windmill was quite common in Heraklion, white at Lassithi we meet the oblong type of Xetroharis (stable mill).
South of Harasso, we still meet one small windmill park of Crete. There are still standing three windmills in a row. These mills are of the rarer type of mills in Crete: the completely circular, turning to all winds, called Xetrocharis. They were used for grinding grain.
Ανατολικά από το χωριό Λίμνες, κοντά στην Εθνική Οδό και στον πολύ παλιό ναό του Αγίου Ιωάννη του Θεολόγου, συναντάμε δύο από τα μυλοτόπια του Μιραμπέλου. Και στα δύο μυλοτόπια υπάρχουν ακόμα και σήμερα κόντρα στο πείσμα του καιρού έξι ανεμόμυλοι στη σειρά (συνολικά δώδεκα), μισογκρεμισμένοι.
North of Nikithianos village, Merambelo district, we still meet one of the most impressive windmill parks of Crete. There are still standing several windmills in a row. Others survive in good condition and others have collapsed.