Els Castellers

February 26, 2013

Another tradition that I have only recently had the privilege of witnessing, els Castellers (in Catalan) is a Catalonian tradition that began in Valls, near the City of Tarragona in the late 18th century. The tradition “simply” involves  building a human tower of varying heights.

Last Sunday was the final day of the Sant Eulalia festival, during which the Castellers made an appearance in Placa Jaume. There were different teams from each barrio of the city who entered the square as a tres (3 tier tower). Each team then proceeded to build a more complex structure simultaneously.

The structure has a wide, strong base called a pinya which normally contains men. The structure then ascends with women and children completing the upper tiers. The pinya at the bottom also acts as a safety net should the tower collapse. There have however been a number of fatalities, most recently in 2006 when a young casteller fell from the top.

Traditionally, castellers dress in white trousers, a black sash and a coloured shirt bearing their team emblem.

In 2010, castells were declared to be among the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Unfortunately, on the day that I was fortunate to see this fate, it began raining so the building of a more complex structure was abandoned. Nevertheless, it was still very impressive and I would recommend that if you ever have the chance, check it out!

La bomba!

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