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Palloza

A palloza is a traditional thatched house as found in the Serra dos Ancares in Galicia. They are circular or oval, and about ten or twenty metres in diameter. These houses are built to withstand severe winter weather at a typical altitude of 1,200 metres.

The main structure is stone, and is divided internally into separate areas for the family and their animals, with separate entrances. The roof is conical, made from rye straw on a wooden frame. There is no chimney, the smoke from the kitchen fire seeps out through the thatch.

As well as living space for humans and animals, the palloza has its own bread oven, workshops for wood, metal and leather work, and a loom. In this way, the family could be completely self-sufficient and outside of Market relations.

Only the eldest couple of an extended family had their own bedroom, which they shared with the youngest children. The rest of the family slept in the hay loft, in the roof space.

These buildings have been described as "pre-Roman", and are similar to Iron Age roundhouse dwellings in Britain and Ireland. They were used in remote parts of the Ancares mountains until the second half of the 20th century, when roads were built that enabled modern construction materials to be brought into the region. Thatched roundhouses and dwellings could also be found in other parts of Galicia up to the 18th century, according the Ensenada Census (catastro de Ensenada) from 1749.

There are many examples of pallozas preserved in the Ancares but perhaps the most famous, which is now a museum, is in the small village of Piornedo. It was used as a family home until 1970 and contains many artefacts that illustrate the traditional way of life.

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