Human Towers or Castellers are a deep-rooted Catalan tradition. You can see them in festivals and celebrations throughout Catalonia.
I recently saw the Marrecs de Salt perform 3 different tower formations in Girona. It brought back memories of all the previous times I had seen these towers being done, when I lived in Barcelona and Tarragona.
Catalan Human towers
In Tarragona I have seen them at the Santa Tecla festival in late September. I remember a square packed full of onlookers and many formations being done, each one more difficult to achieve than the one before.
In Barcelona I have seen a human tower in the St Jaume Square. This square is where the city´s town hall is located. The top of the human tower is completed with a small child. On this occasion the small boy hopped off the human tower and onto the balcony of the town hall to deliver the flag to the Mayor of Barcelona.
I also remember going to a Catalan wedding at the Santa Maria del Mar church, in Barcelona. The bridegroom was a member of Castellers group. So some of the guests created a human tower for the newlyweds and guests as they came out of the church. Amazing.
There are many places to Castellers in Catalonia. It´s best to find out when the fiestas are on or if there is a special event of this kind before booking. Tarragona is really the seat of this tradition, it dates back over 200 years and is recognisedby UNESCO as Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 2006.
Valls is the town most associated with Castellers, their group are known as the Xiquets de Valls.
In January 2o11 they got 10,000 castellers together in Valls to participate in a breathtaking Human towers event.
Seeing these towers created with nothing more than strength, tradition and team work can be inspiring if slightly stressful. The highest ones can be 10 levels high. With no safety net!
Recently the Guardian took these great Photos from Tarragona Competition
The colours of the different colles are clearly visible. They are the teams of human towers which represent different Catalan villages each have their own special colour. The Marrecs de Salt (photo above) have a lilac colour shirt.
Here´s a video of the Marrecs building a 5 story tower last month outside the Sant Gregori Castle in Girona.