Traditions in Catalonia is something I am very familiar with being a Catalan and I would like to share a bit of my culture with you. We have very interesting things that are unique of Catalonia and part of our identity. A castell is a castle translated in English, els castellers are a group of people that climb into each other to built a castle (human tower).

Els castells are traditionally built in festivals all around Catalonia. The aim of this castles is to build it and succeed in dismantling the tower's structure. Since 2010 els castells were declared Unesco to be amongst the masterpieces of oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

The tradition of building castells started in Valls, near Tarragona at the end of 18th century. Since 1981 it became popular in other parts of Catalonia.

A castell is considered a success when all stages of the assembling and disassembling can be done to complete the structure. A castell is complete when all members have climbed into their places and the enxaneta climbs to the top and raises her hand with 4 straight fingers. This gesture with the fingers erect symbolizes the four stripes of the Catalan flag.

Apart from all people that climb to create the human tower, others are needed to create the "pinya" which is the bottom base of the castle that sustains the weight of the tower. The pinya (often men) act as well as a safety net in case the human tower collapses.

A castell is first built by la pinya at the bottom to hold the structure and after that the tower levels from bottom to top, slowly and carefully.

The highest structure of castellers is around 9 or 10 storeys up. Accidents are very rare due to the safety of the structure, but in case something happens there are always ambulances if immediate assistance is needed.

The motto of Castellers is: strength, balance, courage and common sense. So you can tell a lot abou them only with their sentence.

Here are most common terms used to indicate how many people are in each level or tower of els castells:

Castellers by Stasiu

  • Pilar: one person, Torre: two people, Tres : three people, Quatre : four people, Cinc : five people.
Numbers of levels built:
  • Sis : six levels, Set : seven levels, Vuit : eight levels, Nou : nine levels, Deu : ten levels
Other vocabulary used that we mentioned:
  • Pinya (bulk): the ground-level base.
  • Folre (cover): a second-level base built on top of the pinya. It is always mentioned when used.
  • Manilles (handcuffs): a third-level base built on top of the second-level folre.
So now what you have to do is go see how they built this human towers. I leave you with an example below! Enjoy.