The Ranchos of Doñana Route


To speak of shanties is to go right back to the ancestors of popular architecture. This habitat with Neolithic connotations still exist, dotted around a good part of Andalusia - specially in certain areas near to the coast of the Gulf of Cadiz - but in most cases they have ceased to be residential in character and are now used as sheds for farm equipment or for livestock or as temporary shelter for an occasional shepherd. Only within Doñana National Park do a handful of families remain faithful to the tradition of their ancestors, their livelihood based on the exploitation of the natural resources of the "Coto", living permanently in small villages of shanties or "ranchos", integrated in the marshland ecosystem, the bearers of great historic, anthropological and cultural value.

The Doñana shanties have a rectangular base and are built using a pine frame onto which a fine rush siding is fitted serving as a wall or “alberca”, and are covered by a double pitch roof. The typical house is made up of two shanties, one for the kitchen and living room and another for the bedrooms, while a third one may exist for animals, the whole ensemble being enclosed by a heather hedge. Between the shanties or on one side there is normally a trellis under which family life is normally carried on during the more favourable seasons. The largest number of villages is concentrated on El Pinar del Faro estate.

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