Visiting the Xarolla Windmill in Zurrieq
The history of windmills on the Maltese Islands goes back to 1530 when the first windmill was built. Over the time there were at least 69 stone windmills constructed, 54 in Malta and 15 in Gozo. The majority were grain mills. Nearly all the windmills have been built by the Knights of St John using the same building plan - a tower (tromba) was surrounded by a stone quadrangular building.
This time I would like to raise awareness about this unique windmill in Zurrieq. The Xarolla Windmill is the only windmill on the Maltese island that is still fully functioning until today! Generally used for educational purposes for local schools. Private tours can be organised via local council and general public can visit during the weekend. Now, let's start with some brief introduction and history of this exceptional windmill.
Tax-Xarolla Windmill can be found in a small village of Zurrieq. The village was first historically mentioned in 1399. Zurrieq's name is thought to derive from the Maltese word Zoroq (cyan). Zurrieq's motto is 'Mill-Baħar iżraq ismi' translated literally 'from the blue sea I took my name'.
The Xarolla Windmill, Zurrieq's most prominent landmark, was built under the admission of Grandmaster Manoel de Vilhena in 1724. The windmill was restored in 1994 and is fully functioning until today. Let's start the tour by visiting the miller's workshop on the ground floor.
You can appreciate a great display of historical tools, all properly named with a nice visual cross section of the windmill with a detail explanation.
Once you walk thought the workshop you can make your way up the stairs to the first floor where the miller used to live with his family. Let's go. :-)
Once you walk up the stairs this is where you'll find yourself. A quite spacious sitting/dining room. Simple decor though beautiful. The next room is the kitchen, which also serves as a small museum on its own as there is a display showing the evolution of stove cookers and many other interesting artifacts.
The walk-though room on the above picture is situated between the dining room and the main bedroom. This is where the miller's children used to stay. Below you can see the miller's own bedroom. There used to be a curtain just between the bed and the arch to give the couple some privacy.
All the rooms are equipped with the original tools and furniture.
Walking through this agricultural attraction is pretty awesome. It gives you a good idea how the miller's family used to live in the past centuries. The last stop will be at the fully functioning milling room at the very top of the windmill still with its original parts.
Now you can see for yourself how does it look like inside of the milling room. As I already mentioned at the very beginning of this blog, you can see this functioning. If you would like to witness this unique experience all you have to do is call the Zurrieq Local Council and book a tour.
At this point, I would like to also say a big thank you to George Sammut, who was my guide during the visit. He had a great knowledge of the windmill. No wonder as the last miller was Gann Patist Sammut, who was indeed George's father.
You might also like to know that George speaks four languages - Maltese, English, Italian and French.
This was my first but definitely not the last visit. Next time I have to allow more time for the tour as 20 mins was not enough and I didn't have time to visit the nearby chapel.
The standard opening hours are on Saturday & Sunday from 8 am - 12 pm and weekly by appointment. The entrance fee is only 3 Euro.