A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Chapels On Stilts

From 11 December till my arrival in Santiago on 15 December I passed through innumerable Galician farming villages. The farmers' fields were small. Some were given over to maize, but most were grazed by cattle and sheep. I also saw pigs, geese and chickens. I took away 3 strong memories from these villages: one, the barking dogs; two, the pungent smell of cow dung; three, the horreos (see pic).

Horreos (from the Latin horreum, meaning granary) were built to dry and store grain. Some date from the 15th century. Some are even built from new today. A few you could call functionally beautiful works of vernacular architecture, made of wood and stone. Most are rather scrappy - constructed from whatever lay to hand in the farmyard: bricks, breeze blocks and suchlike.

They are raised from the ground by pillars to protect the grain against rats and damp. They are roofed against the rain. Their walls are grooved for ventilation. Nowadays most are used not as granaries but for general storage.

Before I knew what they were, I thought they were some kind of religious shrine: chapels on stilts.

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