A castell (castle in Catalan) is a human tower built traditionally during festivals at many locations within Catalonia. The tradition’s origin is in Valls (south of Catalonia), towards the end of the 18th century. The highest Castells are around nine or ten levels, having a solid human base to hold all the tower.
The human tower needs a balance and a of course, a well-organised structure. Therefore, big and strong women and men are at the base to support the main tower. Then, young and light participants are in the middle of the tower and the smallest ones, usually kids, will be at the top. With that in mind, kids at the top have to rise their hand to complete the tower without falling and are called “Angeneta”. Finally, people at the highest part of the human tower will slowly start coming down until everyone is off to celebrate altogether as a team.
Nearly all towns in Catalonia have their own “Casteller Colla”, which translates to a Castellers Association. Each association gets together to practice throughout the year. Then, they compete against other Castellers Associations. Usually taking place in summer and on Sundays. Traditional Catalan live music plays during the ceremony with a special instrument. The type of rhythm will depend on the stage that the human tower is. It’s as if they explained a story through music. It’s very very emotional.
Get to know more of this amazing and powerful Catalan tradition here!
Castellers typically wear white trousers, a black sash, a bandana and a differently colored shirt indicating which team they belong to. The sash (faixa) is the most important part of their outfit, since it supports the lower back and is used by other castellers in the team as a foothold or handhold when climbing the tower.
There is a tribute monument at Sant Miquel square by sculptor Antoni Llena built in 2012. It resembles the structure of these human towers.
The motto of Castellers is “Força, equilibri, valor i seny” (Strength, balance, courage and common sense).