In Northern Spain, small farmers have stored their crops in “hórreos”- a granary raised on pillars – since medieval times (they are mentioned in the 13th century by king Alfonso X El Sabio in his Cántigas de Santa María).
Mainly found in regions like Asturias and Galicia, this construction is now part of the architectural heritage and is protected by the government. Many homeowners have restored these elevated structures for storage, parking (underneath) or even as tiny cabins.
In the 1980s, Pedro’s father took two hórreos and joined them to create a small summer cabin for the family. The resulting structure is called a “panera” since hórreos have 4 pillars (or “pegollos” in Asturian) and paneras have 6 pillars.
Pedro gave us a tour of the 33-square-meter space (which he rents out on Airbnb). It’s surprisingly spacious with two bedrooms (one with a full bed and the other with a bunkbed), a bathroom (complete with shower) and a kitchen (which includes an escañu: an Asturian bench that with an attached table that can be raised or lowered for different uses).
Pedro’s home is unique, even to the area: there are thousands of hórreos in Asturias and Galicia and likely less than a few hundred are now used for housing, but given the delicate state of the architecture, some are trying to change this. Although hórreos are protected by the government, many homeowners find it too expensive to maintain or refurbish them and with the winter snows, every year more collapse.
“Walk and Hórreo” crowdfunded enough money to refurbish their first hórreo in Galicia as a tiny shelter, using the slogan “preserve hórreos by sleeping in them”. They have created an app for walkers along the Camino de Santiago to find hórreos-turned-shelters for overnight stays.