Old mills are renewed in a Slovak-Hungarian cooperation project

2021. augusztus 10.

The watermill of Tomášikovo in Slovakia and several mills in the Szentendre Open-Air Ethnographic Museum will be reconstructed soon within the framework of a European development program. The industrial historical and ethnographic significance of these old buildings with common regional value is indisputable, and their operation can also help the next generation to understand the world of stone mills.


There were once tens of thousands of mills in Central Europe. These included watermills, windmills and animal-driven mills. In the territory of Hungary at that time, at the beginning of the 20th century, i.e. six decades after the introduction of the first modern steam mills, almost 15,000 so-called small mills operated. (The official data collection in 1906 counted 14,735.)

Mills are not only an integral part of our architectural, cultural and ethnographic heritage. The knowledge of millers is also important from a nutrition science point of view, therefore, saving the few remaining mills - and passing on this knowledge - is vital. Hungary and Slovakia have now jointly embarked on a project to rescue several mills.


Five regions, five mills, five grinding types

Since its foundation in 1967, the Open-Air Museum has been Hungary's central open-air collection, with the aim of presenting folk architecture, home design culture and the way of life of past centuries.

The Hungarian Open Air Museum has five different types of mills so visitors can learn about the various types and features of the mills in one site. At the Upper-Tisza Region of the Museum, there is a dry-mill, at the Great Hungarian Plane Region stands a windmill, at the Bakony-Balaton Uplands Region a watermill, and the Small Plain Region has a horse-mill and a crushing mill. 

Thanks to the reconstruction, the next generation can gain first-hand experience of the century-old methods of grain-grinding and get an insight into the differences between the different types of mill.


Bottom-driven paddle wheel

Tomášikovo, located in the catchment area of Bratislava and Dunajská Streda, is believed to have been once home to fishermen, crabbers and hunters, which is confirmed by the coat of arms of the settlement. Although the village is now inhabited by about 1600-1700 people, there are many attractions here. The Cave of our Lady of Lourdes is a famous pilgrimage site, but the area is also rich in natural attractions, with a protected sand dune to the northwest of the village.

The Maticza watermill, built in 1893, is located on the banks of the Little Danube, about two kilometres from the village, in a beautiful natural setting. It is one of the few mills in Slovakia that has survived almost completely in its original form. An interesting technical detail is that the paddle-wheels use a bottom drive. As part of the development, a visitor centre will be built in the village to receive tourists and the road to the watermill will also be reconstructed.

The development project titled “Milling – the forgotten craft of our ancestors” is implemented in the framework of the Interreg V-A Slovakia-Hungary Cooperation Programme.

During the program, joint workshops, conferences and publications will present the history of the cross-border milling trade. In addition to exhibitions presenting the history of mills and millers, bike and train tours and museum educational activities will be organised by the Szentendre Open Air Museum and the Trnava Self-Governing Region.


Cover: Getty Images