Catalan Castells may become an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Human towers are one of the most unique traditions in Catalonia. This week at the UNESCO meeting in Nairobi (Kenya), "castells" may join the prestigious list of world heritage cultural assets.

CNA / Margalida Armengual / Laura Pous

November 16, 2010 11:12 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- The 'Castells', the Catalan tradition of building human towers, may be distinguished as a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Catalan candidacy will be discussed in Nairobi, Kenya and has the support of the Catalan Parliament. Every year, Catalans build up to 16.000 human towers, in one of the most unique and fascinating traditions of Catalonia that has been around for almost 200 years.

The Castells can be up to 10 human floors, and involve the participation of old and young, with children on the top level. In Catalonia, there are more than 60 'colles', the name given to the groups that raise human towers. At cultural and festive events, colles compete with each other to create the most elaborate and beautiful construction. The Catalan squares become crowded with thousands of people who get excited and euphoric as every castell is made.

The distinction of this cultural tradition by Unesco could be the finishing touch of a fantastic year for the castellers, as they have recently achieved one of the most difficult human towers ever made. Besides this, the distinction would also become a worldwide acknowledgment of Catalan culture.

'I think that for Catalonia and for the Castells this will be a landmark in recognition. But at the same time this will represent an international recognition of Catalonia', said the President of the Catalan Parliament, Ernest Benach. 'Catalonia is mainly a culture and as a nation without a state we need this space for recognition', he added. 

Up to 7.000 castellers from the 60 different 'colles' of Catalonia are looking forward to the final decision of Unesco. Catalans are very proud of the tradition, and hope that the human towers will be included on Unesco's list. 

'This is an activity that we consider to be Catalan', the president of the Castellers de Vilafranca, Miquel Ferret, said. 'It's ours and we feel it as ours because it originated here. But its value can be passed onto other countries and other cultures around the world', he argued. This 'casteller' also praised the visual aspect of the tradition, that 'has a strong impact that attracts everyone's attention, whether you are Catalan or not'.