Traditional "Espigueiros" of Northern Portugal & Spain

Have you ever heard of the term “Espigueiros” or "Horreo" ? No ? How about "Canastros" ? No ? If you have heard of these terms, have you seen them in person?

I hadn't, but that was until I did a road trip through Northern Portugal & Spain.

Maybe you have heard of a granary?

The term - "Espigueiros" is a traditional stone structure that is raised above the ground by four granite pillars.

They are unique to rural Galician architecture and traditionally used in agriculture for the storing, curing and drying of corn during the long winter months. At first glance they appeared to be some sort of catacomb.

As distinguishing traits of Northern Portugal and Northern Spain landscapes, these granaries date back to XII A.C. I spent a lot of time admiring them in all of the small villages around ​Peneda-Gêres National Park, especially in Soajo & Lindoso.

In these areas, old farm styled houses have at least one standing tall alongside their corn fields. In some areas they are clustered together and laid out across a flat slab of graniet similar to tomb stones found at a cemetery.

It is estimated that there are 18 000 left, some are well preserved whilist others are merely ruins. Soajo has 24 of them, and Lindoso has 64.

No two are the same in appearance.

There are two types: rectangle and square shaped ones. Whilst most are built out of stone there are some that are made from wood. They also vary in size, with the longest recorded one being 35m in length.

Now you might be wondering why they are raised above the ground. This is to prevent rodents and small animals from getting into the corn. Each pillar is topped by mushroom looking staddle stones which make it difficult for rats and mice to climb up. Sometimes the pillars are set in small recesses which can be filled with water to deter ants.

At each end of the roof you will see a cross which some believe to be the protective symbol of Solomon.

Inside, you will find a oblong narrow storage chamber, with slits in the walls to allow for air circulation as a prevention for mould. Swinging hinged doors at each end allow for easy storage and removal of the corn. The roofs are either made from granite or are tiled.

The corn stored later plays a big role in Portuguess cuisine. Once the corn is dried it is ground into flour to make the traditional Portuguese bread called "broa de milho." Pay no attention to the above pic! These were found in a really old granary so this corn wont be used in making the bread that you would most likely be eating!

Most of these images are from Portugal, but if you are in Spain head to Galicia and Asturias if you would like to see them! You should find loads more there!

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