‘Castellers’ human towers enjoy emotional return to full capacity celebrations
Organizers call the day ‘a gift’ as the town of El Vendrell celebrates the Santa Teresa festival
There were nerves, excitement, and ultimately joy in El Vendrell for the Santa Teresa celebrations this weekend, a festival that saw the return to ‘castellers’ human tower events with full capacity crowds.
The ‘castellers’ human towers are one of the hallmarks of Catalan culture and are spectacles performed at many traditional festivities.
The central Plaça Vella square in the town about an hour south of Barcelona played host to the return of one of Catalonia’s most beloved cultural events, as various groups performed there for the first time in two years.
Els Nens del Vendrell, Jove Xiquets de Tarragona, and Joves dels Xiquets de Valls delighted the crowds with their intricate formations.
Overall, the ‘castellers’ event lasted around two hours with fast and agile performances from the groups.
"This last week has been torture to organize, but being able to have the day like this has been a gift," said Jordi Pellicer, head of the Nens del Vendrell group.
"El Vendrell is a place that has given us a lot of joy and, this year, it has not been in the form of big castles, but of a return to normality," Jordi Alomà explained, the head of Jove de Tarragona.
What are 'castells'?
Declared Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010, Catalonia's human towers — or 'castells' (literally 'castles' in Catalan) — are one of the country's most unique customs.
The tradition first documented in the 17th century sees large groups — known as 'colles' — of 'castellers' (or castle-makers) forming tiers of differing numbers of people standing on the shoulders of those below them.
A human tower is only complete once a child called the 'enxaneta', who can be as young as five, clambers to the very top of the structure and raises their arm.
The towers are a common and breathtaking sight in towns squares all over the country, where they are built during local festivals to the sound of traditional 'gralla' flutes and drums.