Windmills. Everyone knows what a windmill looks like: a tall tower and wide sails spreading out in different directions. Everyone has definitely seen these beautiful constructions: either in some museum, in the village where you spend summer at your granny’s, or in pictures.
However, few people can recall the windmill nearest to their house, and even fewer can think of the nearest operating mill. Finally, how many people have ever seen them work? Not so many!
Various albums, fairy tales, pictures, and tours around Holland create an illusion that there are many windmills around. We believe they are slender, tall, and well-cared about. In fact, this is far from being true. Ask yourself the question: how many historical mills have survived in Russia? How many of them can grind flour? How many of them need urgent restoration? This is exactly why this website has been created: to answer these questions, to connect people who care about windmills, and to introduce restoration projects.
The answers to these questions are disappointing. According to our estimates, now there are about 70-90 historical mills of various construction and design in Russia. Slightly less than a half of them can be found in the open-air museums, another third of the windmills already is or falling into ruin. In fact, historical windmills that are still able to operate can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
It’s sad to see that windmills have been aside from the restoration process, like other wooden architecture in Russia, and that the number of windmill specialists is even smaller than the number of operating windmills. Houses and outbuildings are taken care of by their owners; churches and chapels are being repaired by volunteers and are funded by the state projects; wells and bridges — by municipalities, but what about windmills?
The mills that are able to operate or that are at least in stable condition have been mostly transported to different museums. However, it is important to understand that a windmill is first of all the structure which needs wind to operate. That is why the places where the mills were built are of no less importance than the constructions themselves, and the mills on historical sites have much more benefits in comparison with the transported ones. In addition, the mill is not just some building, a log construction. It’s more like a machine, an integral unit, and a unique example of peasants engineering skills. As we know, for any machinery, the internal mechanism is as important as the building we see. What is more, the mechanism must work, which is unfortunately rare now. This is the reason why it is so important to carry out functional restoration of the windmills together with their subsequent regular use.
To learn more about mills, to find out what structural types exist, to find intricate names of different mechanisms, to read scientific articles and our stories please go to Encyclopedia.
To see the list of windmills collected at the moment please go here, if you have any information about a windmill that we do not know about (either a historic, ruined or a new one), we will be glad if you add it to the list. If you’ve found a mistake in our inventory, or you have additional information about the windmill, please send us an e-mail with the most detailed description. It could be you who will help attract more attention to this windmill.
One of the goals of this site is to get acquainted with people who care about windmills: museum workers, scientists, or simply enthusiasts. If you want to receive news, to get to know like-minded people, or if you are planning windmill projects and want to contact our team to restore the mill — join us!
We hope that this resource will help coordinate the windmills restoration process, and that all the existing windmills will eventually reach stable, working condition.