Jerusalem's Windmill Will Run Again

Next month, the Jerusalem Foundation will begin to renovate and restore the historic windmill in Yemin Moshe, established by Sir Moses Montefiore more than 150 years ago.  

The renovation work will continue for about three months and will restore the mill to the way it looked more than a century ago – it will even be able to grind flour as it once did. The restored mill will have a white dome with white "wings," with an authentic weather vane at the rear of the building, exactly as it appeared to the first Jewish settlers who ventured out of the Old City's walls in the 19thcentury.  

Over the years, the Jerusalem Foundation has renovated the windmill several times. The last renovation in 2000 was to repair cracks in the structure that rendered the structure a hazard. At that time, the wings and the dome were also replaced as they had begun to crumble and were dangerous for the many visitors passing through daily.


Today, the Foundation – with help from experts from England and Holland – will accurately reproduce the structure established in 1857 by the British Holman Company.  


Inside the mill, the historic four story structure will be restored as it looked when the flour mill was active.  There will be four floors:  a "Flour Floor" - at the entrance to the mill, the "Mill Floor," on the second floor, which held the heavy millstones, and the "Seed Floor" on the third level, where sacks of grain were emptied into large containers and placed on the fourth floor, the "Dust Floor" at the top.


Visitors coming to the mill will be able to enter at the ground floor, look at the flour milling process and watch a short movie about the establishment of the windmill and Jewish settlement outside the Old City walls.


The funding for the project, amounting to about five million NIS, including operating and maintenance expenses for the first few years, was raised by the Jerusalem Foundation. Christians for Israel (Dutch Friends from Holland), The Prime Minister's Office (TAMAR Program), the Ministry of Tourism and the Jerusalem Municipality have committed funding to the project.  

Despite varying accounts, it turns out that the windmill was indeed operational intermittently for about two decades, until  1876.  The mill will have two electrical motors to turn the mill on days when it is not sufficiently windy in the Jerusalem hills.

The mill will be in operation five days a week at set hours and will effectively become the only working mill in Israel.

In order to accurately reconstruct the windmill's mechanisms and outer appearance, the Jerusalem Foundation turned to companies in England and Holland that specialize in windmill production, and asked them to prepare the exact model engineered by the British Holman Company in 1857. Parts manufactured in England will be shipped for assembly in the Netherlands this month. There, they will be inspected by experts and then shipped to Israel.

"This is a project of historic importance," said the Jerusalem Foundation's President Mark Sofer. "The windmill is a symbol of a revitalized modern Jerusalem, a Jerusalem where Jews took their fate into their own hands and became productive. These individuals ventured outside the Old City walls and chose to work for a living, building their own lives rather than remaining dependent on the goodwill of others."  


Click here to read Jpost coverage.


Click here to watch a video about this project.