Ta’ Kola Windmill in Xagħra, Gozo
Ta’ Kola Windmill (‘il-mitħna ta’ Kola’ in Maltese), found in Xagħra, one of the largest villages on the island of Gozo, was originally built in 1787, at the expense of Grand Master Manuel de Vilhena Foundation. This windmill is one of the few complete surviving windmills on the Maltese islands dating back to the period of the Order of the Knights of Saint John. Originally, Ta’ Kola Windmill had been built in a different location within the village, however it had to be dismantled and reconstructed again during the 1780s, due to the fact that the original construction seems to have incorporated bad quality mortar.
Ta’ Kola Windmill is to be found within walking distance of the Ġgantija Temples, just a few metres away from the parish church, and it lies on the highest point of the Xagħra plateau. It was an integral part of the community, since at the time everyone, from farmers, to businesses, to families, used to go there in order to mill their grain and cereals and grind them into flour. Its use started to deteriorate following the industrial revolution.
The windmill is an important landmark, as it provides a glimpse into the local traditional agricultural past of the islands. At present, Ta’ Kola Windmill is to be found at number 135, Mill Street – a street which is named after the windmill itself.
The mill consists of a rectangular building that incorporates a circular tower some 15 metres high. Outside the entrance to the windmill, one can observe two grindstones displayed in front of the facade. Besides these stones, there are three doors leading into the windmill. The windmill consists of several different rooms, every single one of which is furnished in its original and traditional way. On the first floor, one can find the miller’s workshop and the storage space for grain. Ascending an internal spiral staircase in the tower of the windmill, one arrives to the second floor. This floor served as a residence for the miller and his family. One can see the cooking area, the dining room, the bedrooms and even some old furniture. The windmill in fact houses one of the largest collections of original miller’s tools in Gozo. These are on display all along the walls and working surfaces.
This windmill is known as ‘Ta’ Kola’, that is ‘belonging to Kola’, because the last miller to own it and reside in it, Ġużeppi Grech, was known as ‘Żeppi ta’ Kola’. Kola was short for Nicholas, who was Żeppi’s father. Ġużeppi Grech is remembered for two things – his restoration of the windmill in 1960, and the fact that he was the last miller to ply his trade in Gozo. He operated, maintained and resided in this windmill until his death in 1987 at the age of 87.
In 1992, the windmill was handed over by the Maltese government to the Museum Department, and later on to Heritage Malta, well-known for the restoration and conservation of historical sites and museums. The windmill is in fact preserved as a folklore museum.
Ta’ Kola Windmill is open to the public from Monday to Sunday, from 9.00am to 5.00pm. For more information about ticket prices, please visit http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/ta-kola-windmill/.