Castellers at Santa Eulalia festival, Barcelona

Castellering or “human castle building” is a tradition that began in Catalonia in the 19th century. It can be competitive, but castellering is not so much a sport as a challenge – involving a lot of planning, teamwork and trust, plus of course the obvious – strength, balance and courage.

You may have seen castellering on television, but to truly appreciate the skill and effort required, there is no better place to be than in the crowd just metres away from the action. Each of the teams is called a “colla” and can consist of hundreds of people of all ages. It is a multi-generational effort, with most people at the base, providing the foundation for the castle. The higher levels consist of lighter and lighter people, with very brave small children at the very top.

The word ‘castell’ literally means ‘castle’ in Catalan, and the practice is firmly embedded in Catalan identity, never more so than now, despite COVID.

COVID-19 has temporarily limited the opportunities for people to practice building human towers, so I made this video out of footage I shot in pre-COVID times – during the 2018 Santa Eulalia festival in Barcelona’s Plaça de Sant Jaume.

(The video has sub-titles in both English and Spanish).

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