Spain’s inventive fairy-story homes

Science

The spherical stone dwellings of Spain’s Ancares Mountains can also additionally appear like some thing out of the Asterix comics, however they are flawlessly designed to face up to the vicinity’s harsh weather.

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Deep in Spain’s north-western corner, the windswept Ancares mountains are dotted with centuries-antique homes that appearance immediately out of a fairy story – or the Asterix and Obelix comic-book series – however which can be cleverly perfect to the harsh realities of this far off vicinity.

Known as pallozas, the spherical huts are manufactured from stone and crowned with a teardrop-formed roof of rye straw. There are greater than two hundred scattered amongst Galicia’s and Castile-León’s rural villages, together with Piornedo, Balouta, O Cebreiro and Balboa. Many of those houses had been constructed 250 years ago, aleven though their architectural roots stretch returned millennia – a few historians contend that pallozas are pre-Roman, an evolution of Celtic and Iron Age constructions.

Perfectly tailored to their environment Pallozas are constructed from only a handful of materials: stone, wooden and rye straw. However, regardless of their simplicity, they are flawlessly tailored to the mountain vicinity’s bloodless, windy conditions. For example, their spherical shape – with few home windows or openings – lessens the impact of harsh mountain winds. And thick stone walls – made with granite, limestone or slate, relying on which changed into to be had withinside the area ­– insulate from the bloodless and preserve indoors heat. Inside, the palloza’s fireside and its indoor solid (for the own circle of relatives’s livestock) are important for keeping a steady temperature.

Where the nice recollections are born  Jaime Fernández Uria, a retired Barcelona civil servant, is now proprietor of the palloza he grew up in. It’s one of the final 4 in Balouta village, in León province, and nowadays he makes use of it most effective for storage.

Sitting subsequent to the identical fireside that warmed 4 generations of his own circle of relatives, he defined how every palloza has definitely outstanding regions interior: the ástrago, wherein human beings stay; and the estravariza, the animal solid. He slept above the solid till he changed into 14, on a wood platform warmed through the animals under it. “We used to have cows, pigs, hen and a horse,” he stated nostalgically. 

Traditionally, the lareira (fireside) withinside the centre of the ástrago changed into wherein the own circle of relatives got here collectively to chat, eat and perform responsibilities like making ready food, weaving wool or repairing tools. Food together with chestnuts, cheeses and meat had been stored above the hearthplace, wherein the rising smoke included it from rodents. Next to the hearthplace there can also additionally have additionally been an oven and a small pen for younger animals that wished greater warmth. A private bed room constructed with wood planks may be located on the opposite facet of the ástrago, and it changed into reserved for the oldest married couple dwelling withinside the house.

“My mom changed into the final one to stay right here, till 1984.” stated Fernández.

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A own circle of relatives’s legacy Fernández has fond recollections of dwelling together along with his dad and mom and grandparents of their palloza. His own circle of relatives changed into humble, with just a few livestock and now no longer lots land, however they had been very popular. Manuel “Moreno” Cadenas Barrero, a own circle of relatives friend, recalled the convivial atmosphere of their home.

“Their fireside changed into constantly crowded with guys sitting round it. Fernández’s grandfather had a super feel of humour. He changed into a super comedian, the nice at telling jokes and stories. Everyone changed into constantly welcome on this palloza,” he advised me, pointing on the lareira. “In this place, I actually have the nice recollections from the antique times.”

The palloza’s fundamental challenge For centuries, rye changed into the important cereal cultivated withinside the Ancares mountain valley, however over the last few decades, because the vicinity’s populace and rye crop have declined, palloza proprietors have struggled to maintain the teito (roof) in exact situation.

The teitador – the career of constructing and repairing a teito – is slowly disappearing too. “Every 12 months we spend from 2,000 to 3,000 euros to restore a patch, the most broken a part of the roof. We do it ourselves, harvesting our personal straw, in any other case it will likely be lots greater expensive,” stated Isolina Rodríguez López, proprietor of the Casa do Sesto Palloza Museum in Piornedo village. She changed into the final of six generations to be born on this house, and she or he and her husband transformed it into a museum in 1989.

The neighbouring palloza, wherein Celia Alonso López changed into born in 1959, desires a complete teito restore. “It rains longer interior than outdoor,” Alonso advised me whilst looking on the roof’s leaks one wet afternoon. “It will fee me 50,000 to 60,000 euros to restore the complete teito. But with out assist from the regional government, I can not do it,” she stated. Some proprietors ended up putting in a metallic roof sheet; nobody likes the solution, however it is a greater inexpensive choice.

An remoted, unspoiled backdrop For centuries, the palloza changed into the centre of a far off subsistence economic system in which households produced the entirety they wished, with little or no dependence on the outdoor world. Until the 1980s, the far off villages on this vicinity failed to even have electricity, water or paved roads. Villagers travelled in carriages pulled through animals. “My dad and mom used to visit Navia de Suarna village through horse following the mountain trail,” Fernández stated. Some matters have modernised due to the fact that then, however the terrible situation of steep, winding, slim roads and the spotty cell community insurance are nonetheless exact reminders of the Ancares’ remoteness.

However, way to that unspoiled landscape, remoted place and complicated biodiversity, the Ancares vicinity changed into declared an Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 2006. The altitude right here varies from 800m down withinside the valley to 1,670m withinside the Ancares Pass, developing a weather that sees numerous rainfall, wintry weather snow and mild temperatures withinside the summer, even though this is changing, like elsewhere withinside the world.

“It is lots warmer and snows lots much less than after I changed into a kid,” stated Moreno, who is now in his overdue 70s.

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