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Popular art
Cantabrian popular architecture.  
    House, popular arquitecture. (Cabuérniga)   The oldest peasant houses in Cantabria belong to the end of the medieval period, as before that time houses were made of wood. The few examples that remain indicate that peasant houses had only one gable-roofed storey with the façade on the gable end, thus affording considerable depth to the living-space. Generally they had an additional floor in the attic. The commonest arch-type for the windows of these houses was the pointed arch. After the Middle Ages such arches gave way to lintelled or round arches, though even more significant were the structural changes: from the late 15th century on, the attic floor evolved gradually to become a proper first floor; at this stage, too, the portico of this type of house came into being, and with time this feature was to become very significant.

In the 16th and 17th centuries this house-type slowly evolved into the paradigm of traditional architecture in the Cantabrian countryside, attaining its greatest prominence at the end of the 17th century. It is still dominant in our own time. On a rectangular plan, there rises a gabled roof whose ridge runs parallel to the façade; the latter faces the midday or the rising sun, and is usually on one of the long sides of the building . The balcony or solana, sheltered by a projecting eave, rests on solid stone firebreaks which, in their turn, frame the portico or estragal. The balcony and portico were the focal points of the peasant house, both for doing household chores and as places for socialising with one's peers.

Nowadays this basic house-type is spread throughout the middle and lower areas of the region, occasionally combined with a few variations, such as houses with a garreted roof , houses with the balcony between firebreaks of moulded corbels, houses whose balcony rests on side-pillars, and houses with a projecting balcony. The estragal disappears in this last instance, such that the space under the balcony becomes an open entrance-way. In the 19th century a novelty was introduced to the Cantabrian countryside that was compatible with all the earlier features: to convert the balcony into a glassed gallery , in imitation of the dominant urban and semi-urban models of the day.

In the upper reaches of the region house-types differ on account of the imprint of a different environment, different materials, and the influence of the meseta. Such is the case with the small-windowed houses of the Campóo and Valderrible valleys, where adobe and wooden beams are used, but without eschewing the solana, the firebreak walls, or the stone façade . In Liébana for example the whole balcony structure is a closed one ; access to the house is often through an outside stairway or landing, and the materials used might include brick or rough adobe.

The cabaña pasiega is a newer type of peasant house with its roots in the area stretching from the Pas valley and its mountains to the adjacent valleys of Ruesga, Soba, Toranzo, Carriedo, and even as far as Trasmiera. Each homestead comprises several of these cabañas, as they are known by the locals, because of the particular way of life they lead based on the transhumancia herding method (livestock are herded over long distances, unlike the current European norm). The most important of the cabañas in any one homestead is situated in the lower reaches of the valley, and is known as the cabaña vividora ("living cabin"). The house has a rectangular plan, a gabled roof, with one gable end being the" façade: and access to it is up a stairway, whose upper landing extends all the way round one side of the house .

One should add, to the types of peasant house described above, the one that is characteristic of the eastern valleys of Cantabria, particularly the valleys of Guriezo and Trucíos, where the deep influence of the Basque caserío is discernible.On a rectangular plan and with a pitched roof, the house has its façade with broad eaves at its gable end; and it is built of brick on a structure of wooden beams.

Everything described up to this point should be placed in this context: the peasant house of Cantabria is generally more or less isolated, so any homestead must comprise a number of outbuildings for storing grain, firewood, tools; and for sheltering some of the livestock. Historically, the commonest type of granary in many parts of Cantabria is the hórreo, which is still significantly present in the valleys of Liébana .

It is common for a peasant homestead to have dependent buildings quite far from the main house (like cabañas) which the peasant farmer holds in the village outskirts. There is one type of cabaña, known as the "winter cabaña", characteristic of the upper western valleys. This house is situated at the foot of a pass. Its front can equally be at the gable end or on one of the sides; the invariable features are the lower floor that serves as a cattle-shelter, and the upper floor being for grain storage. In the high passes of the Cordillera ("mountain range") in west Cantabria there is a type of building called the chozo ("hut") whose basic is as a habitable room, as cattle stay out in the summer. These small huts might be on a round or rectangular plan.

House, popular arquitecture.
(Los Tojos)
House, popular architecture. (Pido)
House, popular architecture. (Campoo de Suso, Fontibre)
House, popular architecture. (Valderredible)
Hórreo. (Las Ilces)
Living cabin. (Candolias, Vega de Pas)
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