At the top of the Cerro Calderico mountain in the picturesque historic town of Consuegra, 12 white tower windmills crown the hill, surrounded by the vast plains of Castilla-La Mancha and surrounded by an impressive medieval castle. These iconic towers are believed to be the windmills described by Miguel de Cervantes in his famous 17th century novel Don Quixote.
Each of Consuegra’s windmills has a unique name taken from the novel, in which Don Quixote de la Mancha mistakes towers for giants and fights with them in a particularly memorable scene that coined the term “tilting the windmills” .
Originally built to grind grain, the mills were modeled after the Dutch windmills of the 16th and 17th centuries, with a cylindrical tower and a conical bridge where the barrel and its four rectangular blades are housed. The interior is divided into three floors connected by a staircase along the wall. On the lower floor is the silo, where the ground grain was stored. On the second floor there is a sieve to separate the flour from the bran. The third floor, the largest, houses the machinery, the most striking element being the âCatalinaâ wheel. In the upper part of the wall, eight windows were opened to help the miller determine the direction of the wind and therefore the orientation of the blades.
The tower mills were passed down from generation to generation until their retirement in the 1980s. Twelve of the original 13 mills have been restored and opened as a tourist attraction. In 2006, the windmills and the adjacent 12th-century castle of La Muela were declared a Cultural Historic Site.
Know before you go
Consuegra is just south of Toledo, about 140 kilometers from Madrid. The best way to get there is by car. Take the A-4 motorway to Madridejos. Then take the CM-42, and from there exit 59 and the CM-400 road to reach Consuegra. From there, follow the signs. There is a small museum and visitor center on site, and two windmills are still in working order so visitors can see the internal workings of the mills.