Tag Archives: horreo

mexa cas…

In the middle of nowhere…again…definition of the galician countryside. Am struck by the beauty of these large structural weeds.

The local gallego name for them is “mexa cas” (literally – dog piss, they don’t smell, it’s just that dogs like to pee on them!)…nice…I think maybe it’s some kind of hogweed/cow parsnip (maybe Heracleum sosnowskyi) ANYWAY regardless of the ugly name i find them beautiful, like fractals or snowflakes, no two plants seem to be the same…

horreo – indigenous structure, originally used as grain stores (see previous post)

horreos of galicia…

Galicia grows a lot of maize and because of this it has its own very idiosyncratic buildings to store it, they are called horreos, small ventilated constructions used mainly to store maize,  traditionally raised up off the ground and built in wood or stone. They are part of the landscape, some have been abandoned, many are still very much used and now many are being restored… and you see them where ever you travel in the countryside.

(inland near Barrantes, Pontevedra)

They are very distinctive and vary greatly from one place to another, for example round here, inland and mountainous they are naroow and made of wood, whereas if you head towards the sea and the costa de la morte, they are wider and made from stone. Galician horreos range from the humble and practical…,

(inland near Curtis, La Coruña)

to the super kitsch new builds or restorations – here someone has turned theirs into a bedroom…,

(coastal near Muros – Costa de la Morte – La Coruña)

Or they can be symbols of power and ownership, traditionally for hundreds of years, the bigger the land owner, the bigger the horreo, as tenants had to give up a third of their maize as part of their rent hence the need for a big store. For example the pazo ( galician manor house) from this previous post has an horreo befitting its status…

(inland near Curtis, La Coruña)

The sad skeleton of an horreo you see below is more than 70 years old,

(inland Puente Careira, La Coruña)

it has long been abandoned (it belonged to my late grandparents)  but the stone ones can be hundreds of years old, this one from Carnota on the Costa de la Morte dates to the 18th century…

(coastal, Carnota La Coruña)

for more horreo photos go to my flickr here

pazos…

The countryside here is peppered with pazos, a type of traditional Galician manor house, usually in the countryside and usually belonging to the same wealthy local landowner for generations..though often the wealth has gone but the family and house remains.

Nowadays many are still lived in but are often semi decrepit due to infeasibly high running costs and very hard winters. I was lucky enough to be invited into one the other day…falling apart, still lived in, mouldy, dusty, beautiful and full of the ghosts and traces of a couple of centuries of family life…

Above is the lareira, a raised open fire flanked by benches, the typical set up in old houses here regardless of their status – my grandparents had an almost identical one in their much more modest affair. It was the place to stay warm in the winter and to cook – you can see the bread oven at the back…

Glimpse through the window of the horreo (maize store typical in this area – but more of that in future post…)

If you want to understand the very particular atmosphere and climate of this corner of Galicia and how these old pazos used to function socially and physically  in the day, read one of galicia’s most beloved authors, Emilia Pardo Bazan’s Pazos de Ulloa, its kind of melodramatic but i love it.