Horréos, the Traditional Granaries of Galicia

Horréos are unmistakable in Galicia. Along the roads, you frequently encounter these unique, old stone structures. But what exactly are these ancient grain barns, and why do you see them so often in Galicia?

What is an Horréo?

An horréo is a typical granary constructed from stone and wood. They are often over 100 years old, with a history that dates back even further than 1000 years. Horréos are not just historical buildings; they are also symbols of Galicia’s traditional agricultural culture.

Characteristic of an horréo is that the storage area is above ground, typically supported by stone pillars. This is the most typical image of the Galician horréo. Sometimes the bottom is also sealed with stone.

In an horréo is typically stored grain, vegetables, and corn. The reason for this unique storage is twofold, it provides protection against both rodents and the moist ocean air.

Where to Find Galician Horréos?

Horréos are found in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, not only in Galicia but also in Northern parts of Portugal and other Spanish provinces such as Asturias, León, Cantabria, and the Basque Country. However, they are very rare in the latter, more eastern locations.

Horréos in Galicia are primarily elongated. In Asturias and further east, they often have a square shape. In the east of Galicia, square horreos can also be found.

There are still around 30,000 horreos in Galicia, much more than in other areas. There are around 10,000 in Asturias and 300 in León.

The Most Famous and Largest Horreos

The Most Famous: Horréo of Carnota

The most famous and visited horréo in Galicia is undoubtedly the Horréo of Carnota. Carnota is a coastal town on the Costa da Morte near A Coruña. The horréo of Carnota is almost 35 meters long, making it a very remarkable specimen. It consists of 22 pairs of supporting pillars and has three doors. The horreo is also very old, built in 1768. It has been declared a national monument, undoubtedly an exemplary horréo and therefore much visited.

The Longest: Horréo do Araño

In the town of Rianxo stands the largest horreo. It is the Horréo do Araño and measures an impressive 37.05 meters. The horreo does not stand on pillars but has a bottom that is completely sealed.

The Largest: Hórreo de Poio

With so many horréos in Galicia, the battle for the largest is between different places. The largest in terms of volume is located in the town of Poio, near Pontevedra. This horréo, 33 meters long and 3.36 meters wide, has a volume of 123 square meters, making it the largest storage of all.

Asturian Style: Horréos de Piornedo

If you want to see a different architectural style than the typical Galician style, you can travel to Piornedo on the border of Galicia. Here you will find some horréos in the square Asturian style. Same function but very differently built. These are not the typical Galician horréos.

Most Horreos Together: Los hórreos de A Merca

In the town of A Merca, just south of Ourense, you will find the largest collection of horréos together. Here, gathered together, are 34 horréos. All the horréos are the same. They are wooden structures supported by stone pillars and covered with local tiles. A beautiful sight.

Where to go to have a look?

There are so many horréos in Galicia that you will undoubtedly encounter them on your route. Often they are on private property, and you cannot simply walk up to them. Depending on where you are in Galicia, you can visit one of the above.

If you want to get a typical view, you can also go to the coastal town of Combarro. There you will find some horreos near the sea. These horréos overlook the sea. A walk along these horréos is highly recommended. You won’t get much more typical Galician than this.