Discovering Bruges' Last Four Windmills

Bruges boasts a rich mill tradition dating back to the construction of the second defense belt around the city in the late 13th century. The city walls once hosted an impressive array of 23 windmills, as depicted in 16th-century maps. However, only four remain today, situated between the Kruispoort and the Dampoort.

Picture by Pixabay

1. Bonne Chiere: Originating from Olsene, this mill was initially constructed in 1844 and later rebuilt on its current site in 1911 after the original Bonne Chiere mill succumbed to a storm in 1903. Primarily serving a decorative purpose, it was never used for grinding. Bonne Chiere is located nearest to the Kruispoort.

2. Sint-Janshuysmolen: This mill, built in 1770 at the behest of Bruges bakers, is the only one of the four that has consistently occupied its current location. Standing on the former site of St. John's Hospital mill, which fell in 1744, it is a wooden standard mill on four brickwork. Open to the public, it functions as a museum.

3. Nieuwe Papegaai: Originally named the "Hoge Seinemolen," this mill served as an oil mill in Beveren-aan-de-IJzer, constructed in 1790. In 1970, it was relocated to Bruges and rebranded as "Nieuwe Papegaai," featuring a distinctive parrot weathervane on its roof. Classified as a keep-standard mill on a closed masonry base, it is not accessible to the public.

4. Koeleweimolen: Situated closest to the Dampoort, this grain mill hails from Meulebeke, originally known as the "Bosterhoutmolen" and was built in 1765. Unfortunately, it faced demolition in 1980 for road construction. Bruges intervened, acquiring the parts and reconstructing the mill on its present site. The name "Koeleweimolen" pays homage to its predecessor, the "Coele Wint." A wooden standard mill on a closed masonry base, it is accessible to the public.