If you hear the word “horreo” mentioned you might automatically associate it with something horrific, something out of some chilling horror film, but put aside your fears.
As you travel through North west Spain, particularly in Asturias and Galicia, you will be intrigued and astounded by the number of horreos (from the Latin “horreum”) you will come across. Traditional granaries, many dating back to medieval times, they are all over the countryside, on the coast or tucked happily beneath a mountain range. More than 30,000 in Galicia, 10,000 in Asturias, 400 in Leon and a sprinkling in Cantabria, Navarra and the Basque Country, this popular form of architecture, now thankfully, a protected “species”, are an intricate part of the magnificent landscape. Though, wherever there is maize, from the Alps, to Norway to Japan, you will find them!
Built on stone pillars with a large, flat stone on top of each, which is the trick to keep the rodents at bay, the fruits of the land were stored here, protecting them from the damp of the Atlantic climate. Size and shape and other characteristics vary from province to province. Wide and square and built of chestnut wood in Asturias, long and narrow and built of granite in Galicia, all with slats for ventilation. Some have balconies, some decorative carving, each one with its own history. Names vary too, sometimes almost from one village to the next. Paneira, canastro, cabazo, canizo – it begins to become confusing!
Make your holiday one of discovery and track down the longest horreo (35 metres) in the world at Carnota in southern Galicia, or a bit further down the coast, a whole host of them at the water’s edge in seaside Combarro, or venture into northern Portugal to the delightful village of Soajo where the impressive group are called “espigueros”. Further east, into Asturias, fascinating Espinaredo (Espinareu to the locals) houses twenty six in all, one dating way back to 1548!
Start your adventure now and don’t let fridges and freezers take over completely! Go back to our ancestors and think how much you would save.
If you fancy having your very own horreo, even if only for a week or two, then browse our carefully chosen selection of cottages and villas in Northern Spain – there is an horreo for every taste. Or take an independent, self-drive, touring holiday to track down the horreos at your own pace!