Spain Getaways: A Guide To Typical Galician Barns (Horreos)

These rectangular structures are barns, called ‘hórreos’, and they are a very common construction across rural Galicia in Spain. Their function is to store grain and other food crops for the winter, keeping them dry and safe from animals. As winters in Galicia are mild but very rainy and humid, these hórreos became a basic construction in rural farms. Their origin is unclear but some Roman texts from the 1st century A.D. mentioned these constructions like architect Marco Vitruvio, who recommended their use in agriculture. The only graphic representation available dates from the XII century.

Today, they are no longer used as barns, they are considered historical monuments and protected by the state since 1973. If you ever visit Galicia, these are the top villages where you can see the most amazing hórreos.

  1. COMBARRO, Pontevedra, Spain

This small fishing village is one of the most visited in Galicia for its numerous horreos facing the sea. Most of the village was built using granite, the most abundant stone in the area. Combarro has 60 hórreos, which is the largest concentration of these peculiar buildings in Galicia, and 30 of them are facing the sea. The reason for this strategic placement was that it facilitated the transport and storage of goods among neighboring villages instead of using the narrow old roads.

2.  ARAÑO and LIRA in A Coruña, Spain. The Largest in Galicia

ARAÑO horreo, 37 meters long, is the largest in Galicia and it shows the power of the catholic church in the XVII century as it was built on the grounds of the church of Santa Baia. Unlike other hórreos this one doesn’t sit on pillars but on a stone structure.

Nearby we find LIRA, which is also a large structure of 36 meters long but unlike the one above, it stands on the typical pillars that most hórreos in Galicia have.

An anecdote about these hórreos: There is a traditional flower rug show in the same village celebrated in June, as they decorate the village streets. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, last June 2020 they celebrated the show virtually and one of the designs was dedicated to these magnificent structures.

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