Human Towers known as “Castells” (Castles) are part of the Catalan tradition. It consists in the creation of gymnastic formations. People groups that build these forms are called “colles”. Every single member is called “casteller” and has a concrete function inside the group in order to create the human tower.
Human towers are varied and in every performance (in special days or holidays) you can see very different types of them. Every single tower has different parts and the combination of these, changes the name of the tower.
The base of the human tower is the lower part where we can find “pinya” the biggest group of people which gives stability to the form. Above them we can fin the trunk, a group of people that haven’t got any extra help and have to be strong men and women. The last steps are called depending of layer has the form fourths, fifths or sixths. There aren’t stronger people but they are slender, in order to support as minimum weight as possible.
The highest part of the tower is called the pommel and it’s composed by kids. In that point there are two boys or girls (called “seconds”) and above them there is the most little figure “acotxador”. This member is the support to the “enganxeta” boy or girl that reaches the top of the tower. The most important thing in human towers is mount the tower without fell down. Because for them the essential of these is having the gymnastic formation controlled. A nasty fall could be very dangerous for his members, although “pinya”, the group in the base, attenuate the fall. Although the biggest concentration of these groups is in traditional regions (Vall, Vilafranca del Penedès and Tarragona) in all Cataloniaexist like 60 “colles” that keep alive this tradition. Their names are “Castellers de…” or “Xiquets” followed with the name of his town or city.
The tradition of building castells originated in Valls, near the city of Tarragona, in the southern part of Catalonia towards the end of the 18th century. Later it developed a following in other regions of Catalonia and, since 1981, when the first castell of 9 levels of the 20th century was built, it has become very popular in most of Catalonia and even the Balearic Islands. The only 6 teams that have built complex gamma extracastells are from Valls, Vilafranca del Penedès, Terrasa, Matarò,l and Tarragona.