In Western Portugal there is a bicentenary manor windmill, fully restored according with the standards of its time. Moinho de Aviz is open to the public and it is probably the most beautiful structure in working condition of its kind – meet Mr. Miguel Nobre (58) an artist, a craftsman, a purist, a man that dedicates his life to recover an important piece of the region’s history.
Western Portugal & Windmills – The Story
Serra de Montejunto concentrates one of the highest number of original windmills in the country: 11 specimens in a radius of 500m, 6 of which still run like they were initially intended.
Traditional miller families were quite common in the Western Portuguese area in the 1800s. These kind of structures are typical constructions from the area and they served the flour production industry until the beginning of 1900s.
Inumerous traditions and local habits evolved around the windmills, which in 2016, sparked the local authorities to come together to initiate a process of restoration of this kind of structures with the acknowledgement of UNESCO heritage programs.
Mr. Miguel Nobre and Arte Ao Vento
Visiting moinho de Aviz in Western Portugal it’s a chance to meet one of the few masters in Portugal still restoring this kind of national heritage. It is a step-by-step guided visit where you can meet and interact with the craftsman that builds such remarkable historic mills according with the historic projects.
Every windmill is different. There are no two alike.
Mr. Nobre built his first windmill by the age of 8, with the help of his grandfather, a local miller. It was a miniature version of the big ones like he owns nowadays.
He started restorations when he acquired 2 windmill ruins to restore as a hobbyist. His perfectionism and passion for the craft caught the attention of the public that brought in more requests for other restorations.
I just let my work speak for itself
Miguel Nobre is the man behind Arte ao Vento, a local restoration company that performs exclusive windmill rehabilitations. A traditional art that successfully runs without internet presence or other modern communication channels. “We just move from one job to the other with good old mouth to mouth advertising” Mr. Nobre says.
The Legacy Of Moinho De Aviz
Moinho de Aviz is now a visit card for customers who seek to validate the quality of his work.
As it is nowadays, it has the capacity to employ 2 millers working full-time, and produce 1000 kg of flour daily, if the wind would allow so.
Visiting is possible at any given day of the week by appointment. Mr. Nobre performs guided tours with explanations and interpretations of what is being seen.
Together with his nephew they put together a handmade bread (Pão com Chouriço) workshop where you can learn and experience the tradition of shaping and making the dough by hand. The bread will then be baked in a wood-fired oven pre heated at Curral do Burro a little bistrot nearby Moinho de Aviz.