Spanish Hórreos

Last week I made my first trip into Spain to visit friends and spend some time exploring the land of tapas, paella and mountain villages. While on a trip to the region of Asturias in the north part of the country, we made a game of calling out each hórreo we saw by the side of the road. It turns out that hundreds of these tiny historic structures, unique to the northern area of Spain and Portugal are surprisingly well preserved.

horreo-Spain3

A hórreo (pronounced almost like the black and white cookie) is a granary raised up on pillars that has been used since the 15th century for storing hay for feeding animals. Hórreos are made of either wood or stone and have ventilation slits to keep the hay dry in this rain-prone area. The pillars were topped by a large flat stone called a “muela” which prevents rodents from getting into the hay. Small doors and staircases to access hay were also built into the side of the buildings.

Horreo-Spain2

horreo-Spain

Many homeowners in the Asturias region have been working to preserve and maintain the structures not only for farm materials and firewood, but to use for garages (cars are parked under the shelter), for storage and potentially for tiny houses like this hórreo for rent in Villa Bajo, Spain.

horreo

horreo-Galicia-Spain

horreo-airbnb

Photos by Wikipedia, Esacademic, Airbnb and Christina Nellemann

 

 By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Bear - June 2, 2014 Reply

Horreo panoramico: WOW what a view. Horreo panoramico is on the list to visit.

Christina good article. Thank you

Very interesting. Living in the South of Spain I am interested to know about the legality of these tiny houses as so many houses purchased have been issued with illegal licences from mayors and such houses are facing demolition.. Can you advise? Thank you - June 2, 2014 Reply

Have you any idea of the normal sq ft.metres of such little houses? They have a limit? Thanks so much.

    jane - June 9, 2014 Reply

    in Andalusia as a general rule of thumb you are permitted 20 to 50 sq metres .. the permitted metreage is dependent upon how much land you have and how many metres it is above above sea level .. there is an historical reason for this.. most of the ones I know of are permitted to have 24 square metres footprint and you could allow for a mezzanine which would give you ‘free’ extra space.
    These stores horreos and aperos are pertinent to agriculture.. if you you are working the land / producing food etc your application should be a relatively straightforward positive result
    generally you will need to have 2,500 to 5000 sq metres to build
    Building permits required from the alcade/mayor
    Design plus drawing approval from the colegio de architectos
    due to the excess of empty house/flats etc the government is pretty tardy about granting building licences and currently architects are severely under employed which probably means you might find a smart cookie who can get this sorted for you but he would expect to be paid for the design and application works.
    hope this helps

    Milio - July 28, 2014 Reply

    Horreos are not houses. They are just granaries. Asturian legislation forbids building up horreos as residences. They have to be beside the family house. They are protected by the same legislation. Asturies is not Andalusia (and probably is not Spain), you kown…

Wendy Powell - June 2, 2014 Reply

I would LOVE to know more about the stone one with a cross on it … was it used to store hay for the church? The building construction is very interesting …

Rebecca - June 2, 2014 Reply

These are both clever and beautiful structures. Amazing what people built before corporations gained control.

Pamela Pollock - June 2, 2014 Reply

when i hiked The Camino de Santiago in 2012 i photographed many of those horreos. it took me awhile to figure out what they were called and what they were for…..but eventually i figured it out. i was captivated by them on my journey through that region. it is so great to read your article, thank you!

Christina Nellemann - June 2, 2014 Reply

¡Gracias! So far, I’ve seen many sizes of hórreos including some nearly the size of the main home. The size of the structure was indicative by how much hay and corn was produced by a particular farm or area. The materials and size were also indicative of how wealthy a farm was.

I’m not sure of the laws and parameters of turning the hórreos into a home or rented space. That would depend on the structure, stability and construction, local laws and codes. I would love to hear if someone knows more details.

    Gerhard - June 8, 2014 Reply

    Hi Christina,
    this is a link to some House pictures in Switzerland that look the same (with mouseplates):
    academia.edu/4155495/Hausdarstel-lungen_auf_Felsbildern_des_Valcamonica

    The pictures I mean are at the end of the text. You must not download the pdf (click x).

    Have fun
    Gerhard

Shell - June 2, 2014 Reply

That was very interesting. Thank you so much for sharing that. Beautiful. : )

jane - June 11, 2014 Reply

in Andalusia as a general rule of thumb you are permitted 20 to 50 sq metres .. the permitted metreage is dependent upon how much land you have and how many metres it is above above sea level .. there is an historical reason for this.. most of the ones I know of are permitted to have 24 square metres footprint and you could allow for a mezzanine which would give you ‘free’ extra space.
These stores horreos and aperos are pertinent to agriculture.. if you you are working the land / producing food etc your application should be a relatively straightforward positive result
generally you will need to have 2,500 to 5000 sq metres to build
Building permits required from the alcade/mayor
Design plus drawing approval from the colegio de architectos
due to the excess of empty house/flats etc the government is pretty tardy about granting building licences and currently architects are severely under employed which probably means you might find a smart cookie who can get this sorted for you but he would expect to be paid for the design and application works.
hope this helps

Fermín - June 21, 2014 Reply

Greetings from Pamplona!
Its amazing how many people here in Spain is following the idea of living simply with a tiny house. Unfortunately is much more difficult to find if its legal to make those amazing tinyhouses.
Would be great to tell us anything you know in order to help us growing the tiny house concept in this country

Great blog!
Fermín

Mary Ann - July 21, 2014 Reply

we just visited northern Spain in May end it was my first sighting of these amazing structures. I adore them and hope to build one on my own property here in the states. The possibilities for use are endless!

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