Upon first sight you may understandably mistake their presence as of religious significance, and indeed many have the characteristic grey stone appearance of the churches, but no, you would be wrong-ish.
Neither are they small hotels for pilgrims on their way to Santiago - though perhaps were they to be used for this end, there would be fewer in such a poor state.
Neither are they elaborate kennels for the many dogs that live on this green and welcoming region of the peninsular. Though this did not stop my trusty Hound from salivating - after the first few cold nights - at the thought of sleeping in a warm room of his own.
However, the truth is of an agricultural nature. They are granaries built in wood or stone, with slits for ventilation and are raised from the ground by pillars - esteos in Galician that end in flat stones (vira-ratos in Galician) to avoid the access of rodents and the invasive Galician humidity
The oldest dates back to the 15th century whilst the longest hórreo in Galicia is 35 m long
The first decree to protect the remaining 30.000 Hórreos was passed back in 1973, but it was not until 1995 that the Galician Parliament finally took control over its own heritage by passing its own protective legislation.
What strikes the visitor as of particular interest is the siting of these small buildings - alongside motorways, in the car parks of hotels, perched above cliff tops, in the middle of fern forests and roundabouts.
And each one draws your attention, as though you had never seen one before. There is something spiritual about their preservation, their proud standing on their concrete legs that reminds me of the Spirit houses of Thailand.
Perhaps, in our rush to understand and classify our collective heritage, to label our most profound traditions, we have overlooked something indefinable from this very special Gallic tradition?
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