What is an Hórreo?

What is an Hórreo?

These fascinating Galician granaries are always a good photo opportunity when cycling in north western Spain and northern Portugal.

A stone granary known as an Hórreo, on the street next to a church, in Galicia, Spain

A Brief History of Hórreos

An hórreo is a traditional structure used to store grain found in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula (mainly Galicia in Spain, but also in Asturias and Northern Portugal), built in wood or stone, raised from the ground by pillars (pegollos in Asturian, esteos in Galician, espigueiros Portuguese, abearriak in Basque) ending in flat staddle stones (vira-ratos in Galician, mueles or tornarratos in Asturian, or zubiluzea in Basque) to prevent access by rodents.
The food stored is ventilated by the slits in its walls. Similar buildings (barns) on staddle stones are found in Southern England and indeed other types of grain storage buildings are found all over Europe from Croatia to Sweden.


A long standing argument exists as to which town the largest hórreo in Galicia belongs, with each town defending their own, the debate endures between the towns of Carnota, Lira and Rianxo.

The most visited hórreo in Galicia is in Carnota, near A Coruña and is 35 m / 115 feet long (pictured below). It was used by the villagers as administered by the Church in Carnota since 1768.
It is said to be the longest in the world at 35 metres long and 1.9 metres wide, however the Araño hórreo in Rianxo, is reported to be a few metres longer. It is constructed in a baroque style, made entirely of the traditional local stone of granite and it stands on numerous stone legs.
It has a width of about five feet and a height of about seven feet. It sits in a field next to the Santa Comba church and receives a steady flow of interested and intrigued visitors all year round.

The longest hórreo in Spain, in the centre of Carnota, Galicia.


Near the border with Portugal, which you will see if cycling the Camino Portugues, hórreos are seen accompanying most houses and are small, cement  structures with wooden slats for the siding.
Closer to A Coruña, in the agricultural areas, horreos are more modern, mostly due to their commercial use, and are therefore larger and squarer, sometimes with cement brick walls, spaced apart to allow airflow.

Asturias and Cantabria

In Asturias and Cantabria you can find hórreos but they are completely square (pictured below), and somewhat larger than the Galician counterpart and therefore can appear to be a small house when in a village setting, so a little harder to spot!
An Asturian square style wooden hórreo
An Asturian Hórreo (above), picture courtesy of Adolfobrigido
An hórreo in the sunset at Pazo Santa María in Arzúa, Galicia.

Why Horreos?

Corn, root vegetables and grains are stored in the abundant harvest periods of the year, safe from mice, rats and mould, and used throughout the year by the owner of the horreo.
These days you see hórreos decorated with colourful tiles or painted brightly as decoration for the garden of a home, although many are still in use today.
Pictured above and below are hórreos you will encounter in Arzúa, towards the final stages of the Camino De Santiago, following the traditional French Way.

A colourful, painted wooden hórreo in Arzúa, Spain.

 Curious about these ancient Hórreos? Become an expert on our Camino De Santiago & Minho bike tours.

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