For several centuries, Spaniards have been engaging in human tower building. It was first recorded around 1712 in the area of the Catalonian city of Tarragona, Spain. This age-old tradition continues to this day. During our travels there, we visited the small town of Montblanc, where during the Fiesta de Corpus Christi celebration we witnessed this amazing human pyramid go up right before our very eyes. The entire town had gathered in the main square, waiting for the procession of various local clubs, the church, as well as city officials to arrive in the town plaza. As everyone took their place, the festivities culminated in the building of a Castell.
First, the strongest members of the team formed a rock solid base, on who’s strength the climbers rely for support. Next, barefooted climbers ascended the human structure one by one. Bare feet help with balance and also prevent fellow climbers from getting injured from heavy shoes. Talk about courage and trust when climbing atop a Castell! Children as young as five years old are included in this wondrous activity. Lastly, common sense is needed as no one alone can make this work without the help and support of every single participant. The day we watched all this unfold, the youngest member of this team, a boy named Alex, carefully started to climb the Castell while just about everyone in the audience chanted “Alex – Alex – Alex”. He got almost to the very top, when suddenly his sash came loose and he had to start climbing back down for safety reasons. The crowd cheered loudly the entire time, as did the city officials who were watching from the city hall balcony.
Once this Castell was disassembled, another version of it went up right in front of the city hall balcony, where Alex got another chance to climb to the top one more time. Alex succeeded and then got pulled up onto the balcony by the officials.
City Officials of Montblanc
A successful Castell completion requires that the person at the very top of the pyramid raises one of his or her open hands up in the air and then climbs down the other side of the Castell. Fellow climbers wear a sturdy sash around their waists. This sash most important part of the costume. Depending on the individuals position within the Castell, the sash can be as long as 12 meters. It serves both as a back support for those holding up the weight of the climbers and also as stepping support to make the ascent and descent of the castell. The rest of the uniform consists of white pants, a colored top and a bandana. The climbers are barefooted to have a better feel of where they’re stepping and also to avoid injuring others if wearing shoes. It requires the trust and courage of each participating member to make the building of this human castle a success! Another must-have for members of such a team is having common sense! In just one fraction of a second the entire castell can come down if someone is not paying attention!
Monumento a los Castellers
The Friendly Friday Photo Challenge is hosted by The Snow Melts Somewhere this week. She chose “Story” as the theme. I hope you take a moment and check out her fabulous blog here! If you are interested in participating check out how to go about it in her post. It’s fun, not competitive and opens up a whole new world of bloggers from all around the globe for you to discover! 🙂