What are “els Castells”?
Beneath the traditional theme of “Strength, Balance, Courage & Wisdom”…“els Castells”, the pure and genuine expression of Catalonian culture, is reflected in the construction of “Human Towers”, of up to as many as 10 levels high. They are Catalonia´s unique calling card to the world.
Contemplating a “Castellers” presentation, better yet, participating in this singular experience, permits the observer to understand the struggle to surmount both individually and collectively, the forces to achieve an objective, the solidarity and the inclusion of all people…of all ages, conditions and capacity, beneath the same project. For all members, a fondness which moves their passion, pride and challenge of teamwork.
On 16 November 2010, “Els Castells” was included on the representative list of the Patrimonio Immaterial de la Humanidad.
History of “els Castellers”
The practice of “els Castells”, originating in the Catalonian province of Tarragona, with its birthplace in the epicenter of Valls, has of late experienced a period of great expansion. The embrace of this festive spirit by diverse populations within Catalonia and beyond, has resulted in as many as 8.000 Castells per year, around the world.
Born at the end of the 18thC & start of the 19thC in Valls (100km from BCN), it was derived from the “Valencians Dance”, which finished with a human tower. The 2nd half of the 19thC was its Golden Era, in which 9levels were achieved. By the 20thC, its popularity began to decline, almost disappearing until its resurgence in 1926, with the appearance of “Colles” beyond Valls.
At the end of the 70´s, with the return of democracy to Spain and the autonomy of Catalonia within Spain, “els Castells” has experienced a renaisance & popularity explosion since the 90´s with “Colles” throught the country & beyond.
Organization of “les Colles”
“Les Colles Castelleres” are shaped by all types of people…irregardless of age, gender, orientation, physical-mental capabilities, education, civial and or social status. It´s an all inclusive inter-generational & amateur activity in which, all can and areinvited to participate.
The directive structure is organized into 2parts, both elected by member votation.
- Administrative: led by its President, responsible for governance & management.
Technical: led by the Head of the Colla, responsible for tower´s formation…who goes up and to which level, who forms “la pinya” support base structure and the direction of the structures execution. In general, rehearsal is twice a week from March-November.
“Els Castellers” attire (uniform) consists of:
1.Oversized SHIRT with *Collar. Each “Colles” has its own identifying color w/ its unique Coat of Arms placed on upper left side.
Note: collar corners in mouth of participants who shape tower trunk, so those who climb don´t slip/trip.
2. White PANTS
3. “FAJA” Corset of lenghtly textile wrapped around waist to protect the back and which serves as a ladder for climbers.
Music with traditional instruments, “les Gralles” and “un Tabal”, accompanies the tower construction.
Traditionally performed for village festivities and for important state events, more recently also contracted by corporations, etc for special occasions.
Primarily financed through private performance contracts, in addition to state subsidies, gov grants, deductible individual gifted funds and membership fees. All procedes are destined to cover group expenditures.