Hórreos (traditional raised granary) with their own name in Galicia

Here we have thousands of hórreos, but there are some that are certainly not forgotten, that almost seem more like cathedrals than hórreos, because they are monumental. The need to keep large quantities of cobs, apples or any other foodstuffs was not due to large families, but always had to do with ecclesiastical power, as they had plenty of foodstuff tributed by people to fill giant hórreos; in fact, they all form part of igrexarios, which is the name given to the land owned by churches.

Here are four cases that are more than 30 m long, which is enough. All four belong to churchyards. Three of them are in the province of A Coruña, in the municipality of Carnota (Carnota and Lira), illustrious representatives of the Atlantic or Fisterran style, and in the municipality of Rianxo (O Araño). The fourth, the hórreo of Poio, is in the province of Pontevedra. All of them are in coastal areas, which is where the crops have to be preserved from humidity. And all of them have a stone chamber, which is more resistant than wood to the sea breeze.

Hórreo de Carnota. This National Monument forms part of the architectural ensemble of the rectory, dovecote and church of Santa Comba. It was designed by the architect Gregorio Quintela in 1768, although 11 new pairs of feet were added in 1783. It is very baroque in style, with very curved ornaments, and is much imitated in the area. It measures 34.76 m in length and 1.90 m in width and can store plenty of material. The chamber is enclosed by horizontal ashlars with slits to allow air to penetrate. It has 22 pairs of feet. The gabled roof, made of tile and chestnut wood, has Baroque finials, the central ones with a cross on a ball. It was refurbished in 2020.

Hórreo de Lira. This is part of the igrexario of the church of Santa María de Lira, which also has a rectory and dovecote. The plan is attributed to the same architect as that of Carnota, Gregorio Quintela. It was built between 1779 and 1814 on a stone platform, which is unusual due to the unevenness of the ground. Like the one in Carnota, it has 22 pairs of feet, but this one is almost 2 m longer, measuring 36.53 m in total, although it is somewhat narrower: 1.60 m wide, making it more stylised. The truth is that, according to the records, at that time there was a rivalry between the priests of Santa Comba and Santa María de Lira to see who could build the biggest hórreo. The style of both is similar, with horizontal granite ashlars, ventilation slots and three doors. The cantacuco (the central finial on the roof) and the details of the eaves are very baroque.

Hórreo do Araño. This is the longest in Galicia and in the whole world! It is in the parish of the same name, in Traba, in Rianxo, in the orchard of the church of Santa Baia do Araño, near the dovecote and the rectory. The building dates from the mid-17th century. It has 36.75 m of chamber and 37.05 m of celeiro (the lower part of the chamber) and a capacity of 109.31 m3 in the chamber and 59.09 m3 in the celeiro. Curiously, it does not have feet, but the base is made entirely of masonry and has two doors and a staircase on the wall facing the church. The chamber is made of horizontal ashlars in a row, with ventilation slots. The eaves of the roof are crowned with smaller pinnacles and crosses, and the decoration is more austere than that of the previous ones.

Hórreo de Poio. One of the obligatory stops on a visit to Poio is the monastery of San Xoán de Poio, in the Pontevedra estuary, opposite the island of Tambo. The architectural complex includes the former Benedictine convent, with a church with a grandiose Baroque façade, two monumental cloisters, one from the 16th century and the other from the 18th century, and other outbuildings, including a guesthouse. The monastery stands out for having one of the most important monastic libraries in Spain (with more than 100,000 volumes) and, of course, for its monumental granary. In the orchard, the hórreo shows the economic power of the convent. It is not the longest, but beats it in width. It dates from the end of the 18th century and measures 33.46 m long and 3.37 m wide. Unlike the previous ones, the ashlars are arranged vertically, so that the ventilation slots are also vertical, it has four side doors, a hipped tile roof and no decorative pinnacles. It occupies an area of 123.32 m2. The architectural complex can be visited from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 13:00 h and from 16:30 to 19:30 h, and on Sundays from 16:30 to 19:30 h.

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