Castells - Colles Castelleres de Catalunya

The protagonists

Human towers are built by men, women and children of all ages, races, physical conditions, origins and social profiles. Anyone can be a casteller, a human tower builder, and everyone is useful when it comes to making castells: their functions are determined by their physical characteristics. In addition, human towers are an altruistic activity: castellers do not get paid for taking part in castells. The only thing anyone needs before putting on the traditional sash is a desire to build human towers. There are currently more than 10,000 castellers in Catalonia, divided into more than 70 colles.

The clubs

Human tower builders are grouped into colles: the different “teams” that make human towers. There are currently more than 70 of them. What differentiates them, apart from their names, is, above all, the colour of their shirts. Each club is a little world. We find from groups that are just starting out, making six-level human towers, to those that can manage what are known as the gamma extra or top-ranking constructions: the most difficult ones. Similarly, while some have less than one hundred members, the largest can manage to bring out almost a thousand shirts for the most important performances. All of them, however, share the basic essence: they are groups of castellers working together to achieve their challenges.

The colles are generally identified with a specific town, although there are some towns with more than one club. In Barcelona, for example, there are six. The university clubs, which have appeared recently, consisting only of students, lecturers and other university staff, are a special case.

You can check the list of clubs here

Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya

The growth of human tower-building led, in 1989, to the foundation of the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya - CCCC, an organisation intended to represent the clubs’ common interests and, in particular, to promote the world of castells and ensure that human tower-building is covered by adequate insurance policies.

The CCCC now consists of more than 70 colles and it is more important than ever: it was the Coordinadora, for example, that gave the candidature of castells as Intangible Heritage of Humanity a conclusive boost. It still is the body that handles the clubs’ medical insurance policies and promotes research into new ways of preventing risks in human towers.

How the colles are organised

Human tower clubs have a double internal hierarchy. On one hand, the technical committee takes care of the composition of the different human towers and rehearsals for them: who forms each level; how the pinya, or base, is structured; which towers are attempted... The cap de colla, or club skipper, is the head of the technical committee, and usually has assistants such as the cap de pinyes and the cap de canalla (children’s skipper). In other words, the club skipper might be likened to a coach in sport.

On the other hand, there is the management committee, led by the president. As in any association, there are also officers like the treasurer, the secretary, etc. The management committee takes care of the club’s institutional and organisational affairs: budgetting, contracting (coach hire, for example), organising events unrelated to castells themselves, etc.

Clothing

White trousers, a black waist sash and a white-spotted red bandana are clothes common to all castellers. What differentiates one colla, or club, from another is the colour of the shirt and the badge. Each colla has its characteristic shirt colour, although, obviously, with the proliferation of new clubs year after year, almost all colours are repeated.

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