Castell

A castell (Catalan pronunciation: [kəsˈteʎ]) is a human tower built traditionally at festivals in Catalonia, the Balearic islands and the Valencian Community. At these festivals, several 'colles castelleres Muixeranga of Algemesí in Valencia, the tradition of castells within Catalonia originated in the Ball dels Valencians (Valencian Dance) in Valls,[1] near the city of Tarragona, first documented in 1712.[2] Over the course of the 18th century, they spread to other towns and cities in the area, including Vilafranca del Penedès and Tarragona, though it was not until the last 50 years that the practice of building castells began to spread to the rest of Catalonia.[1] Interest in castells began to grow in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the inclusion of women in the formerly male-only discipline ushered in the època d'or (golden age) of castells; the presence of women is credited with allowing castells to be built lighter and stronger, permitting the construction of previously undreamed-of 9 and 10-storey castells.[3]

While in Catalonia, the Ball dels Valencians began to focus more on the acrobatic nature of building ever taller human towers, their more religious and allegorical predecessors retain their traditions: the Muixeranga, which is performed in the Valencian city of Algemesí, and in other places in the Valencian Land and Catalonia, where it is often called the moixiganga.

In 2015 the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya hosted 99 groups, including Castellers de Vilafranca and Minyons de Terrassa, who were able to construct the tallest human tower to date, the "4 de 10" (10 levels of people with four in each level).

The Castell

In Catalan, the word castell means castle.

A castell is considered a success when assembly and disassembly can be done in complete succession. The assembly is complete once all castellers have climbed into their designated places, and the enxaneta climbs into place at the top and raises one open hand. The enxaneta then climbs down the other side of the castell, after which the remaining levels of castellers descend in highest to lowest order until all have reached safety.

Aside from the people who climb to form the upper parts of the tower, others are needed to form the pinya, or bottom base of the castell, to sustain its weight. Members of the pinya (most often men)[4] also act as a 'safety net' if the tower structure collapses, cushioning the fall of people from the upper levels. It is not uncommon—when not in competitions—for other colles to assist in the pinya when a small colla is attempting a specially demanding structure in terms of people needed.

The castell is built in two phases. First, the pinya— the base of the tower — is formed. People forming higher levels of the tower move to a position from which they can easily get to their places in the tower. This is done slowly and carefully,[5] and as subsequent base levels are completed the castellers in the pinya determine if their base is solid enough for construction to continue. Then, when the signal to proceed is given, bands begin to play the traditional Toc de Castells music as a hush comes over spectators of the event. The upper layers of the tower are built as quickly as possible in order to put minimal strain on the lower castellers, who bear most of the weight of the castell. The disassembly of the castell, done amidst the cheering of the crowd, is often the most treacherous stage of the event.

A 'rising' castell consists of successive layers added from the bottom by lifting the castell into the air, stage by stage and is regarded as taking a great deal of practice, skill, and strength.

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кастэль (Каталёнія)
català: Castells
čeština: Castell
dansk: Castell
Deutsch: Castells
Ελληνικά: Castell
español: Castell
Esperanto: Homturo
français: Castells
galego: Castells
հայերեն: Կաստել
italiano: Castell
lietuvių: Kastelas
Nederlands: Castell (folklore)
日本語: 人間の塔
norsk: Castell
occitan: Castellers
português: Castells
română: Castell
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Katalonski ljudski tornjevi
svenska: Castell
українська: Кастель
中文: 疊人塔