Windmills of Lasithi Plateau – Lasithi, Greece - Atlas Obscura

Windmills of Lasithi Plateau

This little Greek plateau is home to thousands of rustic, white-sailed windmills. 


Located on the island of Crete, the Lasithi Plateau holds a small rural community that was once reliant on over ten thousand identical windmills. While the use and number of the windmills has dwindled, the plateau is still awash with the white-cotton whirligigs.

The plateau has been inhabited since around 600 BC, drawing settlers with willing soil and an only occasionally harsh climate. However, the high water table that makes the soil so fertile also makes tending to the land a bit tricky due to the water saturation. During the winters, rain run off would flood the fields, and destroy the harvest. To combat this, drainage ditches were dug that solved part of the problem.

Then in the 20th century, the signature white windmills started to pop up all over the plateau to help with proper irrigation. Most of the windmills had stone bodies, and white cloth sails. Eventually, around 10,000 of the iconic windmills appeared across the area, using wind power to pump water to the various fields. In conjunction with the previously dug ditches, the system was able to make crop production viable. It also had the added benefit of giving the area a lovely symbol.

Today, only around 5,000 of the windmills are still standing. Many of them have been abandoned, as people living on the plateau have taken to more modern means of irrigation. However the remaining windmills still remember a simpler time, and give the area a look like no where else in the world.    

In partnership with KAYAK

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