Every time you see a crowd of Catalans gathered in one place, a strike or a riot is the safest guess, however sometimes it might mean a different and truly spectacular thing. While studying in Barcelona, I’d sometimes see a bunch of daredevils climbing on top of each other shoulders to form an actual human tower. What turned out to be a typical way to celebrate any bigger occasion, doesn’t get any more impressive than in the Concurs de Castells (“competition of castles” in Catalan), where hundreds of people compete in who will form a bigger one.
The competition is held in Tarragona every two years and attracts over 20 000 viewers. Last year 32 teams participated, each one consisting from 100 to 500 members. The towers reach from 6 to 10 levels in hight, and are built from men, women and children alike. The usual way is to keep the male team members (and the heavier ones at that) at the bottom, while women and children go up to form the top levels. In order to win the competition, the complexity of the tower is judged as well as its hight.
With the“Strength, balance, courage and common sense” slogan serving as the moto of the tradition, human towers have been recognized as the UNESCO cultural heritage in 2010, and have been considered as one of the most important Catalan traditions for over 200 years now. Below are some stunning shots by David Oliete, capturing the magnitude of the event!