Culture of Wind and Water

Mills

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.

Asfendami windmills

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.

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Vrouhas Windmills

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.

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Elounda windmills

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.

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Kyliaris Watermill at Stilos

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).

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Gerontomilos Watermill at Phaestus

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.

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Bitzariano watermills

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.

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Paliomylos mill at Gonies

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

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Gazepis Windmill

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.

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