Dating back to medieval times, hóreos or horreos are traditional European granaries standing on top of stone pillars. There are more than 30.000 granaries in Galicia, 10.000 in Austria, 400 in Leon, and in other places such as Cantabria, Navarra, and the Basque Country. Soajo village in Portugal is one of the main places that one can visit and learn about these granaries.
The hóreos or espigueiros are iconic structures of Portuguese vernacular architecture.
In Soajo, these granite granaries are called espigueiros, literally meaning spikes. They stand on top of granite stilts so that rats or other rodents cannot reach the cereals. The space under the rectangular granaries also provided better air circulation to dry cereals. Apart from their agricultural purpose, the espigueiros were also communal places where farmers gather and share agricultural information and hold festivities related to the agricultural cycle.
The oldest espigueiros in Soejo date back to 1782. However, the concept of storing grains off the ground goes back to the Celtic times. Today, only 24 of them managed to survive until today, and some of them are still in use. One can also come across these granaries in other parts of Portugal such as Minho, Trás-os-Montes, and Alto Douro regions.