Touristic Blog of Asturias
The raised granaries of Asturias, a dream in the air
16 ago

It was dawn and the sun was shining magnificently. It had rained for the past few days and the morning offered us an incredible surprise: the hot and humid steam formed one of the most spectacular "seas of clouds" that we had ever witnessed.  A tide that invaded everything, up to the slopes of the Sueve and the majestic summits of the western massif of the Picos de Europa, turning these giants into magical islands, like an archipelago in the middle of the ocean.

 

 


"Sea of clouds" from Monte Cayón with the Sueve and Picos de Europa in the background


The "sea of clouds" slowly fades away, and soon after a green light appears, a world of forests, valleys, rivers and villages, and in the midst of everything are the raised granaries.

Panoramic view in the district of Piloña
When we come across them, it seems that they have been there for centuries. They have been there for so long that contemplating them is rather like taking a journey into the past, because each one tells us a different story: if the family who used it was a large one, if they had prospects or not, if they took care of it, if the land on which they were built was the most suitable or if they had to overcome difficulties with the terrain, if there was any other reason for its development other than mere survival, if it has reached the present day continuing with its mission from yesteryears, if they have managed to adapt to the rhythm and needs of current life. A world of dreams in the area, in the same hot and humid air that plunges them into the mist.


Designed for a better life


The granaries had and have, in all areas where the climate was right for them, the purpose of being a granary, a warehouse, above all to protect the harvest from the damp and from rodents and other pests that could damage it, thereby causing irreparable loss. They have therefore been an anonymous invention but one that has been a key factor in human survival. They have easily survived the test of time, as if to remind us of where we come from.


Asturias was no stranger to this great invention, designed to allow us to live longer and better, and not just that, it also gave this pile dwelling construction from Atlantic Europe extra features in terms of identity, symbolism, imagination and a sense of fun and celebration.  This is what makes the Asturian raised granary unmistakable. It has the additional unique feature of being, from the beginning, a granary especially linked to the harvesting of corn.


If we take a panoramic look at Asturias, i.e., if we could have 360º vision, we would realise that raised granaries are as much of an identifying element of rural Asturias as any other, and that despite many having been lost in the course of time, there are still exemplary and impressive ones that give us an idea of their importance in earlier times. Today they symbolise the older, more natural, survival-based, valiant and magical Asturias; they symbolise the Asturian soul founded on the principles of strength, integrity, history and collective effort.


Nowadays the raised granaries never stop telling us stories of the people who lived in them, cared for them and enlivened them. Here are just a few.


When the apple orchard is nearby


Cider production in Asturias is as old as the invention and use of raised granaries, maybe even older. So it is not strange to find an apple orchard - a group of apple trees planted in the ground - very close to the raised granary, forming an idyllic picture postcard, especially in spring when the trees are in blossom and infuse the sky and the pathways with their colour and smell.

A raised granary next to an apple orchard in Robledo de Anayo (Piloña)


In the comfort of a country house


A raised granary appears quite frequently as part of country houses, palaces and main houses, creating an ideal complement to farms and estates. In most cases they no longer have their original use and are more ornamental and a space in which to relax, "designed" to the taste of those who enjoy them. It is true that a raised granary is perfect in terms of both its appearance - because they look fantastic in any garden, plot, lawn or similar - and its functional nature - because they can be used for almost anything, as many things as you can think of if you use your imagination.


If that's not enough, they are a symbol of identity that show the fondness for them of those who own them and maintain them in the unique countryside of Asturias.

A raised granary at a palatial home in Pintueles (Piloña)


Time has stood still


One of the first feelings that you have when seeing the raised granaries, especially the oldest ones that date back to the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, is that time has stood still both inside and outside them. Around them it seems that everything is just the same. You feel like you are in an Asturian village four or five hundred years ago. The sound of silence, the green landscape, the birdsong, the sun, the carts under the raised granary, resting before returning to work, the yew tree (a mythological tree for the Celts) embracing the raised granary whilst also enjoying its shelter.


Even Chronos - the God of time - would be fascinated by an Asturian raised granary.

A raised granary with a yew tree in Robledo de Anayo (Piloña)

A Zen moment


Over time many raised granaries have been converted into the perfect place for a "Zen moment", they have become places of infinite relaxation, meditation, tranquillity, whispers and conversation, and also places for good food, either protected from the sun or the rainfall or kissed by the light of the full moon.
They are sociable areas which enhance the happiness of living together. They are windows onto beautiful landscapes, and even today they are still the key to a longer and better life.

A raised granary with panoramic views in Anayo (Piloña)


Now we're really up against the Church!


Tales passed down from generation to generation, written or oral, place the raised granaries alongside some chapels that no longer exist. They even link them to Christian rituals, and recount that Mass was officiated under some of them.


In any case, and as the popular saying "Now we're really up against the Church!" goes, this is what we discover in Sietes - a village in Villaviciosa well known for having been chosen for the international launch of Windows 7. It is an impressive raised granary alongside one of the few Renaissance churches in Asturias, San Emeterio. The contrast and ensemble is all the more surprising and very beautiful.

A raised granary alongside a Renaissance church in Sietes (Villaviciosa)

The raised granary and the track


Without leaving Sietes we find a wonderful curiosity. We have no idea what came first, the raised granary or the road; we imagine that it was the raised granary and then later, with the improvement of land transport, came the road, whose route no doubt followed that of an old track.


Well, we are guessing a little, that the raised granaries were also enlisted to help with this, especially when to continue on our route we have to pass underneath them. This offers a different sensation in a tale that could be called "The raised granary and the track".

A raised granary in the middle of the road in Sietes (Villaviciosa)


A multi-coloured work of art


We arrive in Espinaréu (Piloña), and our eyes are fascinated by the multi-coloured raised granaries that await us. The wood, with its colourful decoration, reminds us of prehistoric engravings and cave paintings, and also of Romanesque sculptures.


The range of colours immerses us in a symbolic and imaginative world which ennobles the textures of the wood and makes us appreciate the shell of the raised granary in all its nuances. It is as if the passage of time had sculpted a true work of art, as alive as the wood that becomes its canvas.

A raised granary with multi-coloured decoration in Espinaredo (Piloña)


The magic of remains


The presence of a raised granary is so powerful that even when only the plot remains, or it peeks out camouflaged among the vegetation, it still seems an impressive living being. It looks at us expectant and strong, ready to fight against defeat, before the memory fades into the humus of the earth. Living in the genes of the wood and the stone is the story of suffering and survival. It is never too late to rescue a raised granary from oblivion!

 

A raised granary in Perviyao (Sietes-Villaviciosa)
A set of raised granaries


When they are together, the ensemble creates a monument and they seem to be giants that decorate the village with their sober and eloquent appearance. In Asturias there are several villages with preserved sets that impress for their beauty and power. These are Espinaréu in Piloña and Sietes in Villaviciosa, which have almost sixty raised granaries between them. Both villages are an ethnographic memory, living and in person, especially impressive in person.

A set of raised granaries in Espinaredo (Piloña)
A set of raised granaries in Sietes (Villaviciosa)
Raised granaries in detail


Cats adore raised granaries and love to live in them, look around them, rest there or simply watch us from a safe distance, and with their gracefulness they add a touch of mystery to historic raised granaries. The raised granary is a mythical, literary and popular item par excellence and a few very authentic ones still remain today.

A cat in an Asturian raised granaryTypical detail of a raised granary lock


The doors to the raised granary and their shapes, carvings, structures and orientation are always a striking detail. Stored inside the raised granary are dozens of belongings, crops and even unexpected secrets, and the outside is a mosaic of life and property: it is common to see corn and also onions growing in the garden of the house. However, sometimes fate surprises us!

Impressive carving on the door of a raised granaryOnions hanging outside a raised granary

 


Asturian raised granaries are a source of life and incredible journeys!

 

Take a journey with them and share it on Facebook with your friends!

 

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