Castell: Wikis


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3d10 fm de vilafranca.jpg
Castell (Tres de deu amb folre i manilles) in Vilafranca del Penedès.
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A castell is a human tower built traditionally in festivals at many locations within Catalonia.[1] At these festivals, several colles castelleres or teams often succeed in building and sustain a tower's structure for a certain length of time.



The tradition of building human towers 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 even Majorca, and currently has become very popular in parts of Spain. However, the best and most skilled castellers are still found near Tarragona.

The Castell

In Catalan the word castell means castle.

A castell is considered a success when stages of its assembling and disassembling, can be done in complete succession. The final assemblement occurs when everyone has climbed into their designated places, where the enxaneta, the last person, usually a child has climbed up to the top, and has raised one hand with four fingers erect, said to symbolize the stripes of the Catalan flag. The exaneta then climbs down to the other side of the castell, where every other person of the castell can then climb down in order from highest to lower parts of the castell to safety.

Aside from the people who actually climb to make upper parts of the tower, others are needed to form the pinya, base of the castell, to sustain its weight. These people, often men [2] act as a 'safety net' if the tower structure collapses and people from the upper parts of the tower are then able to fall on them, cushioning their impact when compared directly hitting the ground.

The castell is built in two phases. First, the pinya the base of the tower is formed. People forming the upper levels of the tower move to a position from which they can easily get to their place in the tower. This is done slowly and carefully,[3] and when completed, fellow castellers on ground make a decision if the base is solid enough to continue to build it. Once a go ahead is given, music traditionally accompanied with building such towers is played by music bands, and crowd observers the building quieten down. The upper layers of the tower are built as quickly so the lower castellers who carry the most weight of the castell do not become overly strained given the weight they have to bear. The break up of the tower is often the most risky part of the stage, is done under the clapping and cheering of a crowd.


Typically castellers wear white trousers, a black sash, a bandana and a coloured shirt often bearing the team's emblem. A differently coloured shirt indicates which team a participatant is in. Team Castellers de Barcelona wear red shirts while Castellers de Vilafranca wear green shirts.

The sash is the most important part of their outfit, since it supports the lower back and is used by other castellers in the team as a foothold or handhold when climbing up the tower. This piece of cloth varies in length and width and depends on the casteller's position inside the tower and also on choice. Length range from 1.5 to 8 m, and usually is shorter for those higher up in the castell. Performing castellers usually go barefoot as to minimise injures upon each other as they climb to their position and also for sensitivity when balancing and to have better feel and hold each other.

The arrangement of castellers can be into a multi-tiered structure and the highest has a height spanning of nine or ten people from ground up.[4][5] Accidents are seldom during the construction of a castell, however as in bull runs ambulance are stationed nearby just in case a person needs to be immediately taken to hospital.[6] Fatal accidents do occur where on August 6, 2006, in Mataró a young casteller fell off the formation of castell she was part of and died. Prior to this, the previous death of a participatant was in 1981 in Torredembarra.

The motto of Castellers is "Força, equilibri, valor i seny" (Strength, balance, courage and reason).[7]

  • Strength: A casteller is usually a stocky person. The first castellers were peasants that were accustomed to holding great weights and were under much physical exertion.
  • Balance: For supporting other above in the castell while relying on those below for support requires a strong sense of balance and trust.
  • Courage: The most important characteristic for castellers, especially for young children forming the highest levels of the castell.
  • Reason: Rehearsing and performing requires a great deal of planning and reasoning. Any error can cause the structure fail and break apart.

Types of Castell

Castells are described by number of people who make up each of the levels, as well as the number of levels. The number of levels can be up to ten. The number of people per level varies between one and five, where towers with only one person per level are referred to as pillars (pillars), and with two people as torres (towers). In towers of three or four, each layer is formed as a ring, with larger layers, the layers consist of several rings.

Apart from the basic name of the tower, the tower is commonly denominated by its features: whether it is supported by a support rows (folre and/or manilles), and whether there is an agulla inside the tower. In the image, a 4 de 9 amb folre (4 of 9 with cover) is depicted (by the Castellers de Barcelona), because there are four people making up most of the levels, the tower is nine levels high, and the tower is supported by a folre, the first visible layer in the picture resting on the bulk below them.

The kind of towers considering the number of people per level are basically:

  • Pilar de… : one person per level.
  • Torre de… : two people per level.
  • Tres de… : three people per level.
  • Quatre de… : four people per level.
  • Cinc de… : five people per level.
  • Quatre de… amb l’agulla: four people per level with a pilar several levels high enclosed within the main tower.

The number of levels in the most commonly built human towers are:

  • Sis : six levels high.
  • Set : seven levels high.
  • Vuit : eight levels high.
  • Nou : nine levels high.
  • Deu : ten levels high.

When towers are extremely high and/or have a small number of people on each level, they normally need extra support from the base or bottom levels. Frequently, names of the bases are also included in the name of the tower. The three bases typically used in human tower constructions are:

  • Pinya : normal ground-level base, often composed of several hundred people. All towers have this, and it is never mentioned in the name.
  • Folre : a second base built on top of the first one (Pinya). It is always mentioned, when used.
  • Manilles : a third base built on top of the second one (Folre). It is always mentioned, when used.

Achievement of a human tower

Towers can be completely or partially made. The following terms of succeeding in building and dismantling of a tower is provided as follows:

  • Descarregat : the tower has reached the top and has been successfully dismantled.
  • Carregat : the tower has reached the top but it has collapsed during dismantling.
  • Intent : failed attempt.


  • pinya (bulk): Densely arranged crowd of castellers at the base of the tower. This is where most of people are located. Its function is to hold up the second level, lighten the weight on those who form the foundation and to cushion the impact when people in the upper level fall.
  • enxaneta (rider) : The topmost child.
  • aixecador (riser): The person sustaining the enxaneta.
  • dosos (seconds): The level sustaining the aixecador.
  • pom de dalt (top bunch): The top three levels of the castell: dosos, aixecador, and enxaneta.
  • folre (cover): A group of people standing on the pinya and sustaining the third level.
  • manilles (cover): A group of people standing on the folre and sustaining the fourth level.
  • agulla (needle) : A tower with one person per level (pilar) inside the castell. When the castell is being dismantled, the agulla must remain standing until the outside part of the castell is already down.
  • cap de colla (leader): The head of each team, who decides which castells the team is ready to try, and acts as a director for the construction of the castells from the ground. He is always accompanied by a number of assistants and advisers.

See also


  1. ^ "Castellers - The Catalan Human Castles". Flickr Hive Mind 2009-12-05. Retrieved 05 December 2009.  
  2. ^ "Euromaxx on tour: Vilanova i la Geltrú". Deutsche Welle. August 2009.,,969988,00.html. Retrieved 15 August 2009.  
  3. ^ "Human Tower: The Largest One In History". Retrieved 15 August 2009.  
  4. ^ Bienias, M. (2009-04-30). "Catalonia's human castles". Retrieved 15 August 2009.  
  5. ^ "DOXA Documentary Film Festival - press kit". 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2009.  
  6. ^ Broili, S. (6 April 2007). "Some Full Frame offerings".,+a+400-person+human+pyramid-building+team+in+the+small+town+of+Valls+in+Catalonia&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au. Retrieved 15 August 2009.  
  7. ^ del Campo, Esther (2009-10-25). "In the city - Human towers break frontiers". European Commission, Directorate General Enlargement. Retrieved 15 August 2009.  

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