The historical Xewkija windmill has been restored with about EUR 500 000, mostly from EU Funds
Tat-Tmien Kantunieri Windmill in Xewkija, Gozo, has been opened to the public following an extensive restoration to the tune of EUR 500 000, most of it coming from EU Funds.
What makes this windmill remarkable is that it is the oldest surviving one on the Maltese island of Gozo, and its foundation is octagonal in shape. The building comprises a large entrance hall, two spacious rooms, a birth room above the entrance hall, and a kitchen at the back. A winding staircase in the middle leads up to the roof of the tower.
Legacy of the Knights of Malta
“This windmill is part of a considerable number of windmills built by the Knights of St John in Maltese and Gozitan villages. Between the 17th and 18th Century, the Knights built 50 mills in Malta and 15 on Gozo,” architect Ivana Farrugia told public broadcaster TVM.
Commissioned by Grand Master Perellos, the Xewkija windmill started milling wheat in 1710 and remained in use until 1965. Between 1956 and 1965 it housed the Xewkija Band Club and afterwards fell into disrepair.
The deplorable condition of the building posed many restoration challenges. Therefore, a detailed restoration method was drafted and the ensuing works were monitored by the Planning Authority’s conservation officers.
Both the inside and the outside of the historical structure got a facelift, involving changing of the concrete ceiling with traditional stone beams and the cleaning of the milling stones. The mill’s mechanism was rebuilt from scratch as the original machinery had been destroyed in a fire during the 1920s. And last but not least, the formerly wingless windmill got new large sails.
New public facilities added
Besides restoration works, a small piazza area was created around the windmill and new public convenience facilities were constructed next to the building to improve the site’s accessibility and viewing experience. According to Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, the restored windmill, apart from admitting tourists, will be used to host traditional folklore events, seminars and discussions.
The windmill’s restoration is part of the Xewkija square rejuvenation project, initiated by the Gozo Ministry with the financial assistance of the European Fund for Regional Development. And, to borrow Camilleri’s words, it shows that important projects in Malta are not just restricted to road infrastructure but also the maintenance and restoration of national heritage sites.
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