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Where to Tilt at Windmills Around the World

Wind puns blow but this was a breeze to compile.

Few windmills are quite as iconic as Paris’ Moulin Rouge, the raunchy cabaret venue that birthed the can-can before going on to inspire the 2001 Baz Lurhmann film of the same name. However, the Moulin Rouge is far from the only windmill-centric attraction on earth. Here are ten more notable windmill destinations that might just—are you ready for this?—blow you away and (wind will I stop?) turn you a fan of all things wind-powered with br-ease.

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WHERE: Castilla la Mancha, Spain

Kick off your windmill tour of the world at the Consuegra Windmills. These 12 white windmills sit atop Cerro Calderico, alongside the medieval Castillo Consuegra in the town of the same name. However, while undeniably picturesque, they’re best known for their literary associations. More specifically, they’re thought to be the windmills detailed by Miguel Cervantes in Don Quixote and, in homage to that fact, are all named after Cervantes’ characters, including Sancho, Rucio and Clavileño.

INSIDER TIPThe phrase “tilting at windmills” comes from Don Quixote, and means to face off against imaginary enemies.

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Heckington Windmill

WHERE: Heckington, England

Heckington Windmill can be found in a rather unassuming English village in Lincolnshire, and yet it’s something of a historically-significant construction. Having passed like a hot potato from mill owner to mill owner over the years, the recently-restored Heckington Windmill is now considered the only intact, eight-sailed tower windmill in the UK. And how could you not visit a windmill with a name like Heckington?

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Ukima Windmill

WHERE: Tokyo, Japan

Perhaps the least likely place you’d expect to find a Dutch-style windmill is in an urban park at the heart of one of the world’s largest cities. (In Asia, no less!) And yet, that’s exactly what you get at Ukima Park in Tokyo, Japan. The park, dominated by the vast Ukima Pond, is also known for the Ukima Windmill, as well as glorious cherry blossoms in spring.

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Pabaži Windmill

WHERE: Riga, Latvia

Iconography of the humble windmill is fairly widespread in Latvia, but actual windmills are somewhat fewer and further between. However, at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum in Riga, there are some reconstructed examples to be found, notably that of the Pabaži Windmill. One of few wooden-framed windmills left in the world, this Paltrock-style mill was taken from the Pabaži parish of Vidzeme back in 1963 after it stopped working.

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Harplinge Väderkvarn

WHERE: Harplinge, Sweden

Many windmills get their second wind (ha!) as museums, but few are converted into so-called laboratories for sound art…except Sweden’s Harplinge Väderkvarn, that is. The Harplinge Windmill, situated on Sweden’s west coast, is one of Northern Europe’s largest remaining smock mills—which means that the top of the building is rotational, along with the sails—and, since 2010, home to Harp Art Lab, a non-profit platform for interdisciplinary art performances and installations.

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Morgan Lewis Windmill

WHERE: St. Andrew, Barbados

When you picture “Barbados,” you probably don’t think “windmill.” In fact, swaying palms, cricket, and Rihanna probably come most immediately to mind. But yes, there’s also a functional windmill on Barbados, one which is as much of a throwback to the island’s colonized past as cricket itself. The Morgan Lewis Windmill in St. Andrew—considered one of the seven wonders of Barbados—is an intact and restored sugar mill, the only one in Barbados and one of just two in the Caribbean. Take a guided or self-guided tour of the interior and, if you’re lucky, sample some freshly-prepared cane juice.

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Mykonos Windmills

WHERE: Mykonos, Greece

If you’ve been to Mykonos, you’ve probably seen the famous cluster of chunky whitewashed windmills which sit atop the hill in Chora. After all, the hilltop location of these Venetian-built landmarks—there are 16 total on the island, some in other spots—means they’re visible from everywhere in Mykonos village. However, like most world windmills, they fell out of disuse in the 20th century, having been formerly used to mill wheat; here, one has since been converted into a folklore museum.

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Jels Mølle

WHERE: Jels, Denmark

A hefty chunk of the world’s wind power is harnessed in Denmark, the country which helped pioneer this technology in the 70s. However, the Scandinavian country’s relationship with wind dates back much further. That’s apparent at Jels Mølle a Dutch-style, 19th-century smock windmill. While only in operation for a century, Jels Mølle—which still has much original machinery and several preserved outbuildings—has since become an attraction of sorts, not least for its hilltop location complete with panoramic vistas.

INSIDER TIPDanish windmills have cropped up on commemorative, limited-edition stamps in the past.

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Elk Horn Windmill

WHERE: Elk Horn, Iowa, USA

If you can’t make it to Denmark to enjoy the windmills in their native habitat, just take a road trip to Iowa instead. There, in the town of Elk Horn, you can tour an authentic (and working!) Danish windmill for yourself—the only one in the USA. Dating from 1848, the Elk Horn Windmill has only called Iowa home since 1975, when it was shipped over in parts from Nørre Snede, Denmark to celebrate the Bicentennial. In 1976, the townspeople took it upon themselves to reassemble the structure.

INSIDER TIPIn the neighboring town of Kimballton, there’s also a replica Little Mermaid statue, for those seeking a further slice of Denmark in the American Midwest.

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De Gooyer and Brouwerij ‘t IJ

WHERE: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

How could we talk about windmills without touching upon those which dominate the landscape of The Netherlands? While there are literally almost a thousand windmills to choose from (really!)—from those in the Zaanse Schans region to the popular Amsterdam windmills Molen van Sloten and Riekermolen—arguably one of the most unique is Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a brewery-windmill complex. The beer is, sadly, not brewed in the windmill though.

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