Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Barcelona - The Castellers (Human Towers)

I have been mentioning the Human Towers in my previous blogs so I decided it’s time to give a little explanation about them.

A castell is a human tower and a strong part of the Catalan tradition. This is how it looks.

As you can see, the bottom of a castell is made up of big, strong men.

They are all surrounded by people holding them, lending them strength and support.

The higher they build the tower the younger and lighter the people who make the pillars get.

The last level is made up of young children and to the very top a 4-5 year old climbs. As everything in the Catalan culture, it bears a very significant meaning and that is ‘the pillars of the community support the future of the community’.

Apparently in the old days the children were just wearing the same uniform as the adults (obviously smaller versions)and do protective wear up to the point when a few years ago a child fell off and died. Since then children have to wear crash helmets. For theSpanish it made it all good.

We even noted that some of the children not only wore a helmet but also mouth guards. Some adults were biting on a piece of cloth, others used the tip ends of their collars for this. The concentration is clearly shown on their faces.

Notice that they wear a long black shawl wrapped around their waist. The people who climb up higher put their feet in there and use it as a step. They generally go: knee bend/calf, tights, the top edge of the shawl and shoulders. The ‘top of the tower’ has to raise one arm to salute to the crowd when she gets to the top, without this the tower is not credited. Make sure to catch this moment on the videos below.

There were four groups of castellers here and they built towers one after another. Apparently the dissembling of a tower requires as much training as the assembling. Every tower was built up in a different way. I had space on my memory card to record videos of only two towers. Unfortunately the first video was recorded sideways, sorry about that… I still kept the video as I think building the towers like that must be very hard. Maybe turn your monitor sideways, too.:-)

What these people are doing is just amazing. When I saw the first tower in real life my jaw literally dropped. The whole square was full of astounded people and everybody broke into enthusiastic clapping whenever a tower was completed. The atmosphere was friendly and fun, these groups were friends not enemies. Whenever one started to build a tower lots of people from other groups come to help in supporting the bottom level.


This is what we saw and were able to observe about them. If you want to know more about the tradition, you can read it here. This site contains information about its history, the different levels or the hierarchy of the castell and EVEN MORE. It’s definitely worth checking out. Here is their own website with an event calendar. It's in Catalan but our good friend, Google will help with translation.  

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