The Persian windmills of Nashtifan in northwest Iran are about to be silenced forever after grinding grain for the people of that city for more than a millennium.

Considered the oldest in the world, these mills which were also declared national heritage by the Iranian government were the germ of a structure which, since ancient Persia, has spread around the world, from Central Asia to the Middle East, passing through the Far East, India and Europe, later including La Mancha.

Despite the centuries that have passed since they were held, about thirty mills survive in this arid zone of the province of Razani Khorasan, very close to Afghanistan, where they continue to thresh their antlers as at the time.

German museum model. Photograph by SaupreiƟ (left) and illustration by Kaboldy, both courtesy of Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Designed primarily to obtain flour, these structures a little over 15 meters high and of a brown color that seems taken from the earth itself, they are not only fully integrated into the daily life of the city, but also part of the essence of this corner of the world where, precisely, the wind is an inexhaustible resource.

From the power of the winds that blow in this Iranian region, the population in which it is still possible to scrutinize this open window on this past in which the first mills in the world were designed and built took its name.

Picture Ehsan1980

They will not, those of Nashtifan, be modern or efficient windmills, but the wind blowing up to 120 kilometers per hour He has kept them active for centuries.

Behind these structures, there has always been someone busy making them work. Currently this person is Mohammad Etebari, current director of the mills, which is aging little by little. Despite the roots of these structures in the local population, Etebari has not yet been able to find anyone interested in becoming his apprentice and to whom to pass on his knowledge so that, on his retirement day, he can pass the baton.

Without candidates to take care of them on a daily basis, these mills will go silent forever after having beaten their blades for centuries and having resisted, at the mercy of the wind, built only in an adobe which, more than clay, is today ‘hui the historical heritage of the country.


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