Castells - Colles Castelleres de Catalunya

Values

Human towers have been recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since November 2010. Their aesthetic value and defiance of gravity certainly had something to do with this, but the main reason for their recognition was provided by the values implicitly involved in castells.

Amateurism

Human towers are an entirely altruistic activity. Castellers, or human tower builders, do not get paid for forming part of a club. Being a casteller means serving a project for which the only recompense is the satisfaction of self-improvement and achieving challenges.

Non-consumerist family leisure

Meanwhile, human towers are a free activity – castellers do not pay to form part of a club, which means it is an opportunity to invest their leisure time. Making castells involves having two or three evening rehearsals during the week and a performance on the weekend, often in other towns or cities in Catalonia. It is also an activity the whole family can enjoy.

Teamwork

In human towers, glory always belongs to the group. The human tower builders who form the base are just as important as the crowner on top of the tower. A successful colla, or human tower club, needs hundreds of people, all doing their job.

You too can be a casteller

Colles are open and inclusive. Everyone is welcome and everyone is useful. In a club there are men and women of all ages, from children to older people, from all social classes and origins. To join, you just need to go to a rehearsal and sign up.

Spaces for social cohesion and integration

Inclusion and integration are also essential castells values: in a colla you meet people of all kinds, you make friends, you get to know and practice the language, and you see and try out local habits and culture. That is why belonging to a club has helped thousands of newcomers to become integrated into Catalan society over the last few decades.

Solidarity

By definition, human towers show solidarity: the casteller gives the group his or her effort, suffering, courage, time, etc. In exchange, all that is expected is that the other castellers will do the same. In the colles we also find solidarity in the classic sense: the relationships established between members mean that they help one another. Castells create networks.

Open, plural and democratic model of association

Human tower clubs are open associations which anyone can join and where everyone’s opinion is listened to. The basic internal operational rules are the statutes of each colla, democratically approved by the assembly of human tower builders. The assembly also elects the technical and management committees. The clubs are also grouped in the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya (the coordinating body for human tower clubs in Catalonia), an organisation that also elects its governing bodies and makes decisions democratically. This means that, although it is the heir to a tradition going back two hundred years, the world of castells follows an entirely democratic model.

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