The Windmill Finally Turns

For the first time in more than 150 years, the blades of Montefiore's windmill rotate again. 

On July 25, 2012, the entire cupola and the blades of the Sir Moses Montefiore's windmill were erected, completing the a long standing renovation project. 

The windmill will begin working next month and in its first stages, it will be electrically powered. In the near future, the windmill will also ground flour as it did 150 years ago. 

The new windmill has a white cupola and blades, with a vane behind, exactly as it appeared in the 1850s. 

When the electric button is pressed, it will represent completion of a 6 month international restoration effort. 

Over the years, the Jerusalem Foundation renovation the windmill a few times. The last renovation took place in 2000, after cracks appeared in the structure and the cupola and blades began to crumble endangering visitors. A decision was made at that time to begin restoration of the windmill, returning it to its condition in 1857. The Holman Company of Britain that designed the windmill in the 1850s, joined forced with experts from Holland to make the restoration possible. 

The project was made possible by the Christians for Israel in Holland, the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Tourism and the Jerusalem Municipality. 

The inside floors of the windmill also underwent restoration. Four floors will be viewable to the public: the first floor is the "flour floor" where the wheat was stored; the second floor is the "millstone floor" where flour was ground; the third floor is the "grain floor" where the grain was collected and the fourth floor known as the "dust floor" at the very top of the windmill. 

Visitors can enter the first floor and see how the grinding process took place. A short video explains not only the building of the windmill but also the historical moments when Jews left the Old City Walls to establish modern day Jerusalem. 

Contrary to stories that the windmill never functioned, it did indeed operate for about 20 years until around 1876. The Jerusalem Foundation determined that the newly renovated structure must have an electric motor to rotate the windmill even if there is insufficient wind in the Jerusalem hills. 

In order to restore it to as close to original as possible, the Jerusalem Foundation turned to companies in Britain and Holland, the world's experts in the field. The Holman company found original designs, helped prepare certain parts of the windmill, shipped the parts to Holland for further construction and after being checked by experts in Holland, they were shipped to Israel. 

"This is an important historical project," said Jerusalem Foundation president Mark Sofer. "The windmill is a symbol of modern day Jerusalem, a city where Jews took their fate in their own hands and found ways to sustain themselves outside the Old City Walls without relying on the charity of others." 

To watch a video, click here.

To read more about the project and press coverage, click here.