Hórreos are granaries or barns that are very typical here in Asturias. They are usually built next to a house and are used to contain food, mostly grain, fruit and vegetables or tools inside. They are square shaped and stand on four smooth pillars so that the rain that is so frequent here cannot go in. There’s a little staircase that leads to the door however it doesn’t reach to the floor but stops before to prevent rodents from getting inside. The walls are built of wooden planks and have slits on them to allow ventilation. The space underneath is used to keep the wood for winter or trucks or ploughs.
The other great thing about them is that they are just like a huge construction toy, they can be taken apart and carried somewhere else to be put together again easily as the pieces of wood are joined without using any screws. I could just get one shipped over to my parents in law’s garden in London. Now that’s an idea!
I find these little granaries an ingenious idea. It’s so simple but so effective and makes you think why didn’t others think of this before? I could only spot one in Oviedo in the outskirts that was not in a very good shape and was worried that there are only a few hórreos are left however having travelled a bit further out and in the countryside I have seen many nicer ones, too. I had to realise that they are actually very common.
Since then I have read that some of them are very old, more than 200 years. Due to advancements in agriculture hórreos are not needed anymore and while years ago almost every farmhouse had one nowadays there are less and less and lots of them are in a poor state. It has been realised however that they are part of the Asturian culture and there’s a growing awareness to maintain them properly.
They can not only be found here in Asturias, there are some in Galicia and in Northern Portugal as well however those have a different style. I really hope that the hórreos will live on and stay an important aspect of this area.