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Report 2011: Gozo, Calypso’s Isle

By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2012

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Page 9 of 26: Xaghra and Ta'Kola Windmill

photo by MAW

There are many splendid houses with balconies

Xaghra stands on a high limestone plateau surrounded by terraced valleys. The red dome of the church can be seen all round the island. It is a large settlement and feels prosperous with a lot of new large stone houses with balconies. There are many small shops scattered around the town as well as a small supermarket.

There is a large square with the church but it was shut when we visited. This is the usual style Gozitan church with central doorway flanked by side aisles with bell towers above.

Xaghra is on the tourist itinerary for Ta’Kola Windmill and the Ggantija Temples. Most tour coaches arrive in the morning, so afternoons are quieter. For people wanting to spend a whole day there is the Pomskizillious Museum of Toys, which is a privately owned collection of 19th and 20thC toys. There are also two caves, Kerri’s Grotto and Ninu’s Cave with stalagmites and stalactites. Both are in private houses, discovered when digging wells. Opening times seem to be at the discretion of the owners so we didn’t investigate further.

Ta’kola Windmill is a typical Gozitan windmill built 1725 by the Knights of Malta. It is named after the last miller and has been restored with the original machinery. The cylindrical stone tower contains the grinding machinery and is surrounded by a rectangular building containing working and living quarters. When we visited in May 2012, the tower was shut, the sails had been removed as new ones were being made and it was surrounded by scaffolding.

The ground floor would have been the workshop and storage area. The operation and upkeep of the windmill required a knowledge of different trades like carpentry, smithing and stone dressing. When the mill was not working, the miller also carried out other jobs for the community like sharpening tools, repairing carts and horse shoeing. There is a smithy with a display of tools, many made by the miller. The two storage rooms have information boards on farming and bread making, as well as examples of different types of scales, grain measures and hand querns.

The first floor was the living quarters of the miller and his family. The kitchen, dining room and bedrooms have been recreated with traditional furniture. A spiral stair case leads to the upper part of the mill with the milling equipment.

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