A castell is a tower made up of humans that is traditionally built in festivals within Catalonia. This tradition originated in Valls near the city of Tarragona before the end of the 18th century in the southern part of Catalonia. It developed quite a following in other regions of Catalonia, so much so that in 1981, during which the first castell of 9 levels was built, a feat that cemented its popularity in Spain. A successful castell is when stages of assembling and disassembling are done by a team in complete succession.
An assembly is considered complete once the castellers are able to climb to their designated places and the enxaneta climbs to the top and is able to raise a hand with four erect fingers. The enxaneta then climbs down the other side of the castell as the other castellers descend in order until all have come down. A castell, or tower or castle, is usually around six to ten levels high and a team is comprised of anywhere from 1000-500 men, women and children.
The UNESCO declared castells to be part of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in November 16, 2010. Every two years in Catalonia, Spain, people come together to build these colorful and sometimes dangerously tall human towers. All that holds these human towers together is their collective strength, courage and coordination. These famous castells or castles in Catalan are much anticipated by an excited crowd. Photographer David Oliete went to attend the Concurs de Castells festival in 2012 and was able to capture amazing photographs of this Spanish tradition from a high point to show the castells and their unique artistry.
This event is the summit of human tower competitions and is held in Tarragona every two years. An unprecedented 32 teams competed last year and had over 20,000 people in attendance to witness the competition. View David’s photographs of this unique event that is unlike any in other the world over on his website.