In addition to the breathtaking towers of La Sagrada Família and Torre Agbar, did you know that Barcelona is also celebrated for its…human towers?
Yes, you read that correctly! These time-honored structures, known as castells, are impressively formed by locals who climb one another’s shoulders to create layers of human infrastructure.
As whimsical as it may seem, Castell-building is actually a qualified sport of Spain, and requires masterful precision and skill to create. Each structure includes three parts:
1. The Foundation
The foundation (pinya) corrals a large ring of people to anchor the smaller rings above. In addition to supporting all the weight of the tower, the foundation also softens the fall if the structure collapses.
2. The Trunk
Next comes the trunk (tronc) of the tower, which is formed by stacking even more layers of human-joined rings. To build excitement and interact with the crowd, each sandwiched layer is assigned a team name.
3. The Dome
The last part of the ring is perhaps the most spirited. Since the weight must taper off towards the top of the castell, children climb and assemble to form the tower’s dome (pom de dalt).
After the last layer is completed, the enxaneta (the last person to mount the tower), climbs to place at the top and raises one hand with four fingers erect–a gesture said to symbolize the stripes of the Catalan flag. The enxaneta then climbs down, followed by the remaining levels from highest to lowest.
And there you have it!
The largest castell to date included 150 people with eight layers assembled in the trunk, boasting over 40 feet in height. This impressive feat was successfully completed without the use of any ladders or nets.
Be sure to experience this incredible phenomenon for yourself during festival season, which runs June through November on the streets of Barcelona. Check out the local schedule for more details.