Castellers 2017-12-14T10:34:37+00:00

¿What are Castells?

The “Castells” are a Catalan tradition taking place since the 19th century in the areas of Valls first and later Tarragona and Penedès. This tradition has recently expanded to the whole Catalonia.

The meaning of “castellers” in Catalan is “Castle builders” and it is the result of the work from people from all ages, origins and social profiles in a common purpose to build a human tower. The “castells” encourage values such as solidarity, teamwork, commitment to the group or tolerance.

¿What are Castells?

The “Castells” are a Catalan tradition taking place since the 19th century in the areas of Valls first and later Tarragona and Penedès. This tradition has recently expanded to the whole Catalonia.

The meaning of “castellers” in Catalan is “Castle builders” and it is the result of the work from people from all ages, origins and social profiles in a common purpose to build a human tower. The “castells” encourage values such as solidarity, teamwork, commitment to the group or tolerance.

History

History-castellers-human-towers-world

The “castells” have their own origin in “Ball de Valencians”, a traditional dance always ending with a small human tower. This human tower became the main part of the performance in the south part of Catalonia. Two groups were created in Valls to compete for the tallest tower at the beginning of the XIX century. That rivalry has become nowadays a tradition with more than 80 groups in Catalonia and some others around the world.

History

History-castellers-human-towers-world

The “castells” have their own origin in “Ball de Valencians”, a traditional dance always ending with a small human tower. This human tower became the main part of the performance in the south part of Catalonia. Two groups were created in Valls to compete for the tallest tower at the beginning of the XIX century. That rivalry has become nowadays a tradition with more than 80 groups in Catalonia and some others around the world.

A “colla” is a group or team of “castellers” who build human towers. The groups are usually identified with a city, but in some cities, there are different groups.

The groups can be distinguished in a performance by the colour of their t-shirt and today there are more than 80 recognized groups. While some of them have less the 100 members, some others can have up to 1.000 people to build the tallest towers.

.

Colles castelleres. Human towers groups
Colles castelleres. Human towers groups

A “colla” is a group or team of “castellers” who build human towers. The groups are usually identified with a city, but in some cities, there are different groups.

The groups can be distinguished in a performance by the colour of their t-shirt and today there are more than 80 recognized groups. While some of them have less the 100 members, some others can have up to 1.000 people to build the tallest towers.

.

The towers

The towers are the result of an architectonical and anatomical study of constructions. These studies have been developed and improved for each kind of tower since the beginning. Each tower component plays a specific role and must be strongly trained for that.

Human Towers Castellers - Types of Towers

Top crown
It is the top part of a “castell” and it consists of the pair (two persons), the bending child or “acotxador” and the crowner or “enxaneta”. Each of these three are considered a different level. In pillars there isn’t any pair or bending child, just the crowner.

Trunk
It is the main structure of the tower and the number of people per level gives name to the tower.

Base
It is the bottom part of the tower and secures the first level of the trunk. The base is also needed to receive the impact of the tower in case it collapses.

Auxiliar and extra bases
They are additional bases that wrap the trunk in its first or second level due to the difficulty of the tower. This auxiliar bases are only used in the most difficult towers, mainly the extra range towers.

There are different types of “castells” and their name comes from the number of people on each level and the number of levels. They can be classified by simple structures or complex structures.

Simple structures
The simple towers are the ones with one, two, three or four people per level.

Complex structures
The complex towers are the ones with five, seven or nine people per level. They are made with the addition of two or more simple towers.

Towers with pillar inside
Some complex towers have a spin inside which is crowned with the bending child of the wrapping tower. Once the main tower is crowned and while “castellers” go down, the spin stays crowned until the “castell” becomes a pillar.

Lifted up towers.
These towers begin with the top crown on the floor and are lifted up level by level until the tower is completed.

 

The name of a tower comes from the number of people per level in addition with the number of levels. A 3 of 8 has three people per level and 8 levels (the base, 4 trunk levels and 3 formed by the top crown).

The name can be more specific in case it is lifted up (l), in case it has a pillar inside (p) or in case it has double or triple bases. For example, 3 of 9 with double base and pillar (3of9dbp)

The towers are classified per ranges, according to its difficulty.

7 level range, from the 2 of 6 to the 2 of 7

 8 level range, from 4 of 8 to 5 of 8 with pillar

9 level range, 4 of 9 with double base and 3 of 9 with double base

Extra range, from 9 of 8 to 4 of 10 with double base

The towers

The towers are the result of an architectonical and anatomical study of constructions. These studies have been developed and improved for each kind of tower since the beginning. Each tower component plays a specific role and must be strongly trained for that.

Human Towers Castellers - Types of Towers

Top crown
It is the top part of a “castell” and it consists of the pair (two persons), the bending child or “acotxador” and the crowner or “enxaneta”. Each of these three are considered a different level. In pillars there isn’t any pair or bending child, just the crowner.

Trunk
It is the main structure of the tower and the number of people per level gives name to the tower.

Base
It is the bottom part of the tower and secures the first level of the trunk. The base is also needed to receive the impact of the tower in case it collapses.

Auxiliar and extra bases
They are additional bases that wrap the trunk in its first or second level due to the difficulty of the tower. This auxiliar bases are only used in the most difficult towers, mainly the extra range towers.

There are different types of “castells” and their name comes from the number of people on each level and the number of levels. They can be classified by simple structures or complex structures.

Simple structures
The simple towers are the ones with one, two, three or four people per level.

Complex structures
The complex towers are the ones with five, seven or nine people per level. They are made with the addition of two or more simple towers.

Towers with pillar inside
Some complex towers have a spin inside which is crowned with the bending child of the wrapping tower. Once the main tower is crowned and while “castellers” go down, the spin stays crowned until the “castell” becomes a pillar.

Lifted up towers.
These towers begin with the top crown on the floor and are lifted up level by level until the tower is completed.

 

The name of a tower comes from the number of people per level in addition with the number of levels. A 3 of 8 has three people per level and 8 levels (the base, 4 trunk levels and 3 formed by the top crown).

The name can be more specific in case it is lifted up (l), in case it has a pillar inside (p) or in case it has double or triple bases. For example, 3 of 9 with double base and pillar (3of9dbp)

The towers are classified per ranges, according to its difficulty.

7 level range, from the 2 of 6 to the 2 of 7

 8 level range, from 4 of 8 to 5 of 8 with pillar

9 level range, 4 of 9 with double base and 3 of 9 with double base

Extra range, from 9 of 8 to 4 of 10 with double base

The events of “castells”, in Catalan “diades”, gather usually from one to four teams, but sometimes there are up to six teams in a performance. They perform per turns and a full performance consists of three towers and 1 pillar per group. Even there is no official score table, the towers are usually valued according to the Biannual competition in Tarragona. All events take place in public squares and are free to enter, except the competition.

During a performance, the towers obtain the best score when the “enxaneta” crowns the tower and all the members climb down of the “castell” (Tower completed). The tower gets a lower punctuation when the it collapses after being crowned (Tower crowned) and have no score when it collapses before the crowner reaches the top of the tower and rises the hand up (attempt).

The music is another important part of the “Castells”. The “gralla” is the main instrument playing the “toc de castells”, the piece to guide the “castellers” during the construction of the tower.

Human Towers Castellers - Performance - diada
Human Towers Castellers - Performance - diada

The events of “castells”, in Catalan “diades”, gather usually from one to four teams, but sometimes there are up to six teams in a performance. They perform per turns and a full performance consists of three towers and 1 pillar per group. Even there is no official score table, the towers are usually valued according to the Biannual competition in Tarragona. All events take place in public squares and are free to enter, except the competition.

During a performance, the towers obtain the best score when the “enxaneta” crowns the tower and all the members climb down of the “castell” (Tower completed). The tower gets a lower punctuation when the it collapses after being crowned (Tower crowned) and have no score when it collapses before the crowner reaches the top of the tower and rises the hand up (attempt).

The music is another important part of the “Castells”. The “gralla” is the main instrument playing the “toc de castells”, the piece to guide the “castellers” during the construction of the tower.

Human Towers - Castellers - Concurs de castells

The biannual competition in Tarragona takes place in pair years and is the only performance where the scores are official and the groups are qualified in a ranking. It is splitted into two days, with 12 first groups qualified in the main day, and the following 18 in the previous day.

Human Towers - Castellers - Concurs de castells

The biannual competition in Tarragona takes place in pair years and is the only performance where the scores are official and the groups are qualified in a ranking. It is splitted into two days, with 12 first groups qualified in the main day, and the following 18 in the previous day.

World Heritage

UNESCO included the “castells” as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2010 acquiring the most distinguished recognition for a cultural element.

World Heritage

UNESCO included the “castells” as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2010 acquiring the most distinguished recognition for a cultural element.

JOIN THE WORLD OF HUMAN TOWERS