We all have heard about old-fashioned flour mills (also called grist or corn mills) that grind grain into flour. They were mainly built and used by villagers in the past. Originally they were powered by people (i.e. by hand) and livestock (mainly horses).
Later they were improved and water power was used for grinding. With the growing number of watermills people’s life was greatly relieved and the production of flour was immensely increased due to fast-flowing streams especially in mountainous regions.
That didn’t stop owing to the inventiveness and creativeness of the people living near rivers or other water sites. They developed newer milling & grinding technologies. This time they started building waterwheels on floating platforms resembling ships or in other words these were the so-called ship mills.
After the invention of classical watermills, mankind continued using another natural power – wind. Windmills turned out to be even more efficient and effective than their ancestors. Apart from the fact they have been so useful ever since, nowadays they are also somehow national symbols and icons of some countries. There is no doubt that all of us have stumbled upon photos of Dutch landscapes dotted by windmills or have taken photos of pretty ex-wind-powered mills somewhere on Greek islands.
Ah, yes … 🙂 We also come across windmills even while reading books and associate them with certain protagonists. Do you remember the charming, romantic and optimistic character named Don Quixote? Exactly! This hardcore dreamer and his uneducated neighbour and squire, Sancho Panza, sneaked off early in the morning one day in order to face a series of notorious adventures, the first one being Don Quixote’s attack on windmills which he believed to be fearful giants. This way he became so well-known and even an emblem of the Western cultural world in his time (and not only) and the very popular phrase “tilting at windmills” (or translated as “an attack of imaginary enemies”) has been derived namely from the iconic scene in the book by Miguel de Cervantes.
Speaking about windmills as landmarks and symbols, for sure, I will not miss to mention the Red Mill decorating an edifice close to Montmartre in the City of Love. Founded by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller at the end of the 19th century, Moulin Rouge is supposed to be the birthplace of the can-can dance in its modern form. Originally the dance itself was the seductive performance of courtesans. Later it evolved into entertainment and thus first cabarets shows were introduced across Europe. Nowadays the Parisian show is one of the greatest tourist attractions of the city offering its guests class musical dance amusement, fin de siècle décor and memorable moments.