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Castells, or human towers, are constructions between six and ten people high that were first introduced in the 18th century in an area called Camp de Tarragona. In the years since their conception they have spread throughout the whole of Catalonia.

Each human tower is the result of universal values such as teamwork, solidarity, self-improvement, the feeling of belonging and the integration of people of all ages, origins, races and social backgrounds.

It is a genuinely Catalan tradition which UNESCO declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2010.


During more than two centuries of development, castells have evolved noticeably and they have experienced extreme situations, from being about to disappear, at the beginning of 20th century, to the current best of times.

Human towers are an evolution of a folk dance called ball de valencians, which used to end with the raising of a human figure. When this dance, native to the Valencian Community, arrived in Catalonia in the 18th century, it became firmly established in Camp de Tarragona, Penedès and Garraf. The final figure that ended the dance became more and more important – the incentive was making it higher or more complicated, not only to better oneself but also to outdo other dance groups. In Valls, such competition ended up making the final figures separate performances, until they became what we know today as castells.
Making the tallest construction was the aim of the first human tower builders in Valls, who, at the beginning of the 19th century, were already organised into two colles, or human tower clubs: the Pagesos (Farmers) and the Menestrals (Tradesmen). The Valls colles travelled all over Camp de Tarragona and Penedès from June to October, taking part in town festivals.
During the first century of their existence, castells became consistently more successful as teams achieved record after record, until they managed to build towers up to nine people high. In fact, it was in 1851 that the first nine level tower with a folre (auxiliay base) was built, during the Santa Tecla festival in Tarragona. The activity was hugely popular in its traditional area and the period has become known as the first Golden Age of castells. This period came to an end in El Vendrell in 1893 with the last 9 level tower that would be seen for almost a century.
At the beginning of the 20th century various phenomena occurred leading to the stagnation of human tower-building: there was heavy migration from the countryside to the cities to find work, modern sports like football began to win fans, and the sardana dance from Empordà became established throughout Catalonia. All this happened while human towers were going out of fashion up to the point of almost disappearing.
For the almost 130 years following their conception, castells were almost exclusively built by the two rival teams of Valls, who travelled throughout the traditional castells territory of Camp de Tarragona, Penedès and Garraf. From 1926 onward the castells tradition was revived by the establishment of the first stable teams not to be based in Valls, but in Tarragona and El Vendrell. As a result, a new sense of competition was born, which culminated in a strong growth in participation and the use of different coloured shirts in order to differentiate between teams. This allowed teams to once again build human towers 8 levels high. However, following the 3 year Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), levels of participation in castells went into freefall. Nevertheless, despite the difficult circumstances, the phenomenon never completely disappeared.
The dictatorship did not explicitly ban castells since they weren’t seen as a symbol of Catalonia, but simply as a local, traditional spectacle. Throughout the 1950s and 60s the vitality of the castells movement began to grow once again, with a newfound rivalry between the Valls teams and other teams in the region. As the dictatorship came to a close, castells underwent a social change that would make them into what they are today. In 1969 in Barcelona, the first team from outside of the traditional region was established, and it was also the first in which the participants —or castellers weren’t paid.
The transition to democracy brought a social movement to take back the streets and promote Catalan culture. In this context, new colles continued to emerge outside the traditional castells area. New models of club were offered, such as Minyons de Terrassa, founded in 1979 and the first colla to fully integrate women. It was at this point when human towers absorbed many of their current values, making them an altruistic, integrating activity that began to be seen as a symbol of Catalonia. In 1981, Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls completed a nine-level human tower, almost a century after the previous one, opening the door to what has been called “the second golden age” of castells.
It was within this context that castells received another boost; the teams had managed to reclaim 9 level towers. In 1981 Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls completed, after a delay of almost a century, the 4d9f (9 levels with four people on each and an auxiliary base) that would open the door to what is called the “second golden age” of castells. Five years later, Colla Joves Xiquets de Valls also completed the 3d9f, and these 9 level constructions would begin to be seen more often, built by other top teams in different regions of Catalonia.
With the presence of castells at the Olympic Games opening ceremony in Barcelona in 1992, the world of castells would enter into a peroid of mediatisation and internationalisation that would inspire the creation of new teams. By the end of the 1990s there would be around 60 clubs, doubling the numbers of 10 years previously.
New challenges were on the horizon and in 1993 Minyons de Terrassa would complete the first “gamma extra” castell (one that is more difficult to complete than the 9 level towers). In 1998 the first 10 level towers arrived, when in November Castellers de Vilafranca built the first 3d10fm (10 levels high with 3 people on each level and 2 auxiliary bases), though without dismantling it completely before suffering a fall. A week later Minyons de Terrassa were able to complete the construction successfully.
In 2010 UNESCO decided to include castells in their Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and, at the same time, the economic crisis gave people the opportunity to join castells clubs. Consequently, the activity underwent a boom period with the creation of a series of new teams until finally, in 2019, there were 100 distinct teams in existence. 2019 was also the year that saw a leap forward in the technical realm, as during the Festival of Santa Ursula both Valls teams crowned the 3d9sf (9 levels of 3 people each with no auxiliary base) for the first time ever.


Human towers are not the result of random improvisation in the square, but the fruits, firstly, of a detailed study of the structures, their components, the functions and locations of each of them, and, secondly, of constant rehearsal over many months.


This always refers to the last three levels of a human tower, apart from pillars. It consists of the youngest castellers of the structure: the dosos (twoes), the acotxador (bending child) and the enxaneta (crowner). Note that, when it comes to determining the height of a human tower, each of these counts as a level!

These are the human tower builders who form the skeleton of the structure. The castellers in each level and hence the levels of a castell are known as: seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths and sevenths. The type of human tower builder varies depending on the level: the higher up they are, the lighter and more agile the components need to be.

The technical difficulty of some constructions means that a second auxiliary base, known as folre, or even a third extra one, called manilles, may be necessary. They are designed like the first base but on a smaller scale in terms of the number of castellers.

This is the bottom of a castell, and it has two basic functions: firstly, fixing the structure and, secondly, operating as a mattress in case of a fall. One of the things that most surprises less knowledgeable spectators is that the structure of the base is perfectly organised in terms of the number of castellers forming part of it, the way they are positioned, and their function. It is a real jigsaw puzzle.

Types of Castells

The names of different castells are determined by two parametres: the number of people per level —without taking into account the pom de dalt— and the number of levels. A construction must have at least 6 levels in order to be considered a castell, unless it is a pillar, in which case they must have at least 4 levels.

Simple structures
These are the easiest to count and identify. They consist of one, two, three or four human tower builders per level. Do not be misled: when we talk about simple structures we do not mean they are easy to make.

Complex structures
With more than four castellers per level, complex structures are just combinations of simple structures. Some of them are real works of engineering.

Unusual structures
These are human towers which, despite having a simple structure, stand out because of the way they are raised or because they lack some usual support base.

Illustrations by Xavier Ruiz provided by Lynx Edicions


Castells wouldn’t be castells without the music of the gralles (traditional Catalan wind instruments) and drums, called timbals. The “toc de castell” is the most well known piece of music since it is played while the castellers build the castell. It marks a speed and rhythm for the participants to follow and signals the different phases of construction. Although this toc (tune) is the most well-known, the first tune we hear at any castells performance or event is the “toc d’entrada a plaça”, which plays while the castellers enter the square in which they are to perform. Many other moments have their own corresponding tune, for instance the “toc de pilar caminant”, which accompanies a pillar that “walks”, and the “toc de vermut”, which is played at the end of the performance as a way of closing the event.


The instruments that traditionally accompany castells are the gralla and the timbal.

The gralla seca is a conical tube of wood that measures around 35cm in length and has, with some small exceptions, nine holes: six at the top and one at the bottom, with 2 more at the bell, or mouth, of the instrument which serve to improve tuning and tone. Gralles can be made from different tupes of wood: Jujube, ebony, boxwood or olive, among others.

Other types of gralla include the gralla dolça, a more advanced model than the gralla seca that has two keys at the bottom that allow the instrument to reach a middle F note. The gralla baixa, which is a quarter octave lower than the the gralla dolça, and also has keys, can reach a low A note.

In order to play the gralla a conical tap is added to the top of the instrument, and a reed is inserted into it. The reed is made by artisans out of two pieces of wood tied together with a wire. When the musician blows into the space between the pieces of wood they vibrate and sound is produced.

Generally, musical scores for the gralla are written in G major. Musicians in Sitges, however, refer to the note produced when all holes are covered as D, and therefore they play in a different key. There are two tuning systems used when playing the gralla: 415 Hz, more common in the traditional area, and 440 Hz, more popular in the non-traditional area.

On the subject of drums, Xavier Bayer i Gonzalez indicated in the Vilafranca festival programme in 1990 that “The first drums were made of wood, and in general measured two hands-lengths in height and one and a half across. They had skins at the top and bottom that were tightened using strings; there were also one ore two snares made of gut on the bottom skin that produced the roll sound.”

Nowadays, drums are most commonly made of brass, covered on both sides with natural skin or a tightened plastic, with metal tensors and an adjustable snare on the opposite side. The drum is played with two wooden drumsticks.


There are several theories about the origin of the traditional gralla. In any case, what is clear is that its use became generalised between the 18th and 20th Centuries in the regions Camp de Tarragona, Penedès, Tarragonès and Garraf.

By traditional we mean the gralla curta or gralla seca. The gralla llarga de claus, otherwise known as the gralla dolça, appeared in the final third of the 19th Century, allowing players to create melodic harmonies and reach higher pitches. The introduction of the gralla dolça at this time became the object of criticism by a large group of people who preferred, or felt nostalgic towards, the gralla seca. At the same time, there were plenty of people who preferred the gralla llarga, and in fact, this split in opinion has survived to the present day.

The most brilliant stage of the gralla’s history can be dated to the years between 1875 and 1915. At this time the gralla baixa was introduced and the traditional wooden drums were replaced with lighter, brass drums.

From 1915 onwards the gralla became less and less popular as a form of musical instruction in the home as different instruments and tastes in music grew in popularity. As a result, the number of gralla players was greatly reduced.

In 1952 Pere Català i Roca estimated that there remained only 14 grallers, or gralla players, and 7 timablers, or drummers.

In Sitges, in the autumn of 1952, a school was set up in which free teaching was offered for people to learn to play the gralla. In 1969 a similar school was opened in Tarragona and, in 1976, a new band of grallers was formed in Vilafranca.

Also in 1976 the Colla Castellera d’Altafulla organised the first Conference of Grallers “… The simple celebration of such an act represented a step forward in the structuring and formulation of a whole programme of performances in which grallers became fully fledged members of the world of castells” (Món Casteller, Jordi Garcia Soler, 4/12/1976).

Later, in 1981, the Traditional Music Conference was formed in Reus, and in 1986 another was introduced in Guardiola de Font-rubí.

On the 14th of December 1979 the Colla Joves dels Xiquets de Valls presented the group Escola de Grallers.

From the 1980s onwards new pedagogical methods were introduced, and conferences, exhibitions, popular and traditional musical performances were organised, followed by traditional music schools, or aules,which were formed throughout Catalonia in the 1990s.

Since 2006 it has been possible to study the gralla at the Catalonia College of Music (Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya) as a bachelor’s degree, alongside other traditional musical instruments.

Toc de Castells

As Joan Cuscó observes “the Toc de Castells is made up of two parts, used for 3 reasons: the beginning, the crowning of the Castell and the dismount. Both taken as a whole and individually, these tunes describe, or narrate, the process of building and dismantling a castell. It is sound, in this case, which acts as a guide to those who support the castell, so that they know how the construction is progressing:

It consists of a sharp note of warning.
It’s the music that guides the construction of the human tower. It will last as long as it requires depending on the structure and the speed of its participants.
The music changes when the little gets to the top of the structure and raises his or her hand. The instrument will play a repetition of D4-E4 until it changes to G4.
This part will guide the deconstruction of the structure and starts with an G, F, E. As in part 1 it will last as long as it requires.
The music changes one last time when the structure is completed. 8 bars that will end in a sharp tone, as it started.

Xavier Bayer explains that in 7 level castells “when the castellers of the third level climb to their places the toc de castells begins to sound. When the head of the team —the cap de colla— shouts “terços amunt!” —“thirds up!”— the powerful sound of the gralla and the drum cuts through all other noise and make it known the the Castell has begun”.

When it comes to 8 level castells, the toc begins when the fourth level castellers begin to climb, and increases successively according to the height of the castell.

Blai FONTANALS I ARGENTER, Nosaltres, els grallers.
Ivó JORDÀ I ÁLVAREZ, Fitxa tècnica de la gralla. Per conèixer i entendre l’instrument.
Joan CUSCÓ I CLARASSÓ, El Toc de Castells. Història i històries d’una música.
DINSIC (edició a cura de Xavier Bayer i Iris Gayete), Terços amunt! Músiques per a gralla a l’entorn del fet casteller.


The human tower calendar changes every year and there are often alterations at only a few weeks’ notice, so the best way to find out when and where you can see castells is to check the performances that are going to take place on a specific date a few days in advance. Bear in mind that human tower activity does not happen all the time, as colles follow a season, although it is unofficial.


Traditionally, this season began on Saint John’s Day (24 June) and ended with the Saint Ursula meeting (the Sunday after 21 October), but this calendar has been extended, and nowadays human towers can be seen virtually all year round, although the time of year with least activity is December and January.

The number of performances has also grown: each year more than 10,000 castells are raised. In the summer, for example, there are dozens of performances every weekend. It must be borne in mind that human towers, like any amateur activity, usually take place at weekends or on public holidays. The importance of the performances varies, although there are some which, by tradition, attract the most spectators year after year.

Just as the calendar has expanded with time, the map has also spread: you can find castells almost any weekend throughout most of Catalonia.


Although the calendar is variable and it is difficult to know where you will find the best performances, there is a series of special days which, due to tradition and the historical results, form the list of dates not to be missed.

Traditionally, it was the festival of Sant Joan that marked the beginning of the castells season. Every year in Valls on the 24th of June a performace takes place to mark the local town festival, in which the two local teams face off for the first time in any given year. On the afternoon of that same day you can also see castells in Tarragona, where the four local clubs take part.
This is one of the first big performances of the season and it takes place on the first Sunday after Sant Pere (29th of June). The two local teams, Minyons and Castellers de Terrassa take part alongside a third team that participates by invitation.
Since the year 2000, the Les Santes performance has become an increasingly important date in the casteller’s calendar thanks to the standout role played by the clubs who are invited to participate, as well as the positive evolution of the local team Capgrossos de Mataró. It takes place on the Sunday before the Les Santes feast day (27th of July).
On the first weekend of August, Plaça de la Vila in Vilanova i la Geltrú hosts a performance to mark the town’s festival. Aside from the local club, two high-level teams build castells on Saturday afternoon. This can be a great opportunity to stick around for dinner and some of the evening’s entertainment.
On the 15th of August every year, the village of Bisbal del Penedès becomes the centre of the castells world, in one of the most authentic dates of the casteller calendar. It is well-known for both the castells on display and for the extremely hot weather.
El Catllar doesn’t have a local castells club, but since the 19th Century the people of the village have been passionate about castells. The performance that marks the town festival, on the afternoon of the third or fourth Saturday in August, takes place in one of the hottest squares in the castells world. On its own merit it has become an unmissable date for castells fans, with high-level teams, strategy and rivalry all taking centre stage.
This is one of the most traditional performances in the calendar and has an impressive line-up. It takes place on the fourth Sunday in August and hosts three of the highest level teams in the castells world, as well as the local team. Aside from seeing the castells, it is also worth taking in the Ball de Diables (Devil’s Dance), which is performed just before the human towers performance.
A must-see performance. Every year on the 30th of August Vilafranca el Penedès invites what it considers to be the ‘four best teams’. Tradition, rivalry, the most difficult castells and an impressive setting ensure that the Vila square is filled with thousands of fans, come to enjoy one of the most thrilling spectacles of the season. Although the 30th is indeed a great day, the castells begin on the 29th with the ‘night vigil’ performance and end on the 31st, the festival of Sant Ramon. On these days it is the local clubs that take part.
The town festival in Tarragona includes two performances which are known to host some of the most difficult castells. The more traditional performance is Santa Tecla, in which the four local clubs take part, and can be seen on the saint’s feast day, the 23rd of September. Since 2005, you can also see the Performance of the First Sunday of the Festival, in which the two best local teams and two top teams from outside of the city participate.
On the Sunday that falls closest to the 24th of September (the festival of Barcelona), the Historical Performance of La Mercè is celebrated, a performance that attracts one of the largest crowds of any in the calendar. It is a fantastic opportunity to see great castells, but it is important to arrive on time, as sometimes it becomes necessary to close off access to Plaça Sant Jaume due to the excessive number of people in attendance. On the 24th of September you can also see castells here, when the 8 local clubs teams participate, making it posible to see more than 30 constructions in one day.
Every two years, on the first Sunday of October, falls the most exceptional performance in the calendar. It is the only performance that has winners and losers, where castells are rewarded points, where the judges make sure the rules are followed to the letter and where spectators must pay an entrance fee. This is the only day on which building castells becomes a competition. The 6000 tickets on offer sell out within hours of going on sale, so if you want a spot you must plan ahead. It is the biggest castells spectacle in the world: over the three days it takes place you can see 42 clubs perform.
Also taking place every two years, on the odd-numbered ones, Plaça del Mercadal in Reus hosts, on the first Saturday of October, some of the best castells clubs there are, who perform alongside the local Xiquets. It is a good opportunity to combine an afternoon of shopping with impressive castells.
On the Sunday that falls closest to the 15th of October, Plaça Vella in El Vendrell is home to a traditional performance where you can see the most difficult castells to complete, performed in front of a crowd of experts. The local club, Nens, is joined by two high-level teams that bring the top castells of the moment.
Plaça del Blat in Valls is the home of castells, where over 200 years ago the first human towers were seen. Its biggest performance marks the festival of Santa Ursula, and takes place on the Sunday after the 21st of October. This day showcases the essence of castells, genuine rivalry and the most difficult castells ever attempted, all thanks to the two local teams, Vella and Joves. One of the things that makes this square stand out is that only the local teams are allowed to perform here.
In 1998 Minyons de Terrassa put Plaça del Vi on the map by completing there the first 4d9 without an auxiliary base. This construction hadn’t been seen since the 19th Century. Since then, the Sunday before the 29th of October represents the best opportunity to see the most difficult castells in the north of Catalonia.
Castellers de Vilafrance end their season by organising this performance in their home square. This represents for many clubs the last opportunity of the year to complete difficult castells. For this reason, many of the teams’ best ever performances have taken place on this day, the 1st of November. Whereas on Sant Fèlix the invited teams are the ‘best in the world’, on Tots Sants the intention is to invite those teams who have demonstrated the potential to join the ranks of the greats.
Perhaps, in order to understand its importance, it is enough to say the first ever 2d9fm and the first 3d10fm in history were performed on this day. It is the final big performance of the season, taking place on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of November, so it is important to wrap up warm.


Besides the performances when you can see the biggest human towers, there are some that are exceptional for other reasons: because they have castells at night, because they are held in unusual settings or because they have a particular feature that makes them special. These are just a few examples.

Every ten years, on those that end in 1, Valls celebrates the Decennals de la Mare de Déu de la Candela festival on the 2nd of February. At this performance castells are performed simultaneously, rather than one after the other as is the case at the majority of performances, and all clubs from the castells world are invited to take part. For this reason, it is both the most multitudinous and the most colourful human towers experience you could hope to see.
Although most performances take place at midday on Sunday, there are some exceptions. The Completes performance in Valls, on the 23rd of June, begins at quarter to 11 at night. It is celebrated to mark Sant Joan festival, and you can see both castells and fireworks at the same time. One of the most spectacular scenes of the night is when both castells teams form and hold pillars while fireworks go off in the sky above them.
The Millars performance in Rosselló is the oldest in the Catalan speaking region of France (also known as Catalunya Nord). Since 1997, in early August, castells take place as part of a bullfighting festival that attracts over 50,000 people each year.
Every year on the 9th of August, the inhabitants of Llorenç del Penedès build human towers, but without forming a team or wearing the traditional costume. This performance starts at midnight and is followed by a party, before which you are invited to eat a slice of watermelon.
The summer festival of Tarragona, called Sant Magí, hosts one of the most traditional castells performances around. Every year on the 19th of August, the city’s four teams of castellers perform at the Plaça dels Cols, a unique setting that allows those who arrive early to watch the performance while sitting on the cathedral steps. Come prepared for the hot weather!
The four teams united by the Eix Road —Marrecs de Salt, Sagals d’Osona, Tirallongues de Manresa and Castellers de Lleida— have orgainsed a performance every year since 1999. It is celebrated in a different town each year and is remarkable for the great atmosphere and good relationship between the clubs, who join together at the end to build a Castell featuring members of all four teams.

After the castells performance on the 24th of September at the festival of La Mercè in Tarragona, the spectators are treated to a rather unique spectacle. The city’s four teams each build a pillar that they then walk down the 19 cathedral steps, before proceeding to walk the 410 metres all the way to the city hall without letting the pillar fall. The whole journey can last anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes.

In Girona, Marrecs de Salt also have a traditional involving a walking pillar. Late at night on Tots Sants they attempt to climb the 90 cathedral steps.

During the time of Spain’s First Republic, Bellprat, a village of 91 inhabitants in Anoia, voted in the first democratically elected female mayor in the country. Since 2009, the village pays tribute to Natividad Yarza by organising a castells performance at the end of October in which only women form part of the trunk of the towers.


A typical human tower performance consists of three human towers and a farewell pillar by each participating colla . In each performance there can be one, two, three, four or even more clubs, although the number is normally three. The groups raise their human towers in rounds, following an order of performance that is agreed or drawn before the start. Usually, if the club cannot achieve the human tower it tries to build, it has the right to have another go.

However hard you look, you will never find any written Rules of Human Towers governing the activity. But that does not mean they do not exist: castells are built according to unwritten conventions known and accepted by everyone.

The only performance that does have explicit rules is the Concurs de Tarragona, which basically tries to compile the traditional rules of human towers in writing and apply them, although with some differences.


Although an outsider seeing different “teams” coming together in the same square might think otherwise, castells are not a mere competition, and there are no winners or losers. The colles make the human towers basically to push their own limits and achieve new challenges. That is why it is quite usual for several clubs to leave the square happy after a meeting: all of them feel like winners because they have achieved their objectives.

However, some human towers are clearly more difficult than others. The casteller s , or human tower builders, are aware of this and often, as well as improving their own achievements, they also feel the attraction of performing better than the others. This is especially clear at meetings where clubs of a similar standard or with traditional rivalries coincide.


Unwritten criteria and conventions also come into play in this case. The joy of the human tower builders and the strength of the applause can be a good guide, although if you want an accurate assessment you can use the Concurs de Tarragona points table as a reference.



Take off your watch, your glasses, your earrings and your rings. If there is a fall these can be dangerous.

Do not raise your head! If you think you will not be able to contain your curiosity, it is best if you watch from outside. Being in the base requires maximum concentration.

Let the gralles , the shouts of the cap de colla —the leader or head of the club —, and the ambient noise guide you on the progress of the human tower.

Push with your chest rather than your stomach, and only when you are asked to from the front. When you hear “Dóna’m pit!” (“Give me some chest!), you will know it is time to push.

Take advice. Everyone has had a first time and those with more experience will be delighted (sometimes only too delighted!) to tell you what you have to do and how to position yourself.

If there is a fall, do not bend down and carry on pushing forwards.

Enjoy the experience. You are bound to want another try!


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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.


Castells is an activity that, in large part, remains true to the spirit and customs of the teams of 200 years ago: being an integral part of the local festival, the musical accompaniment, and the classification and denomination of castells are just a few of the elements that have been passed down from generation to generation. This well of tradition does not imply, however, that human towers haven’t been able to change and adapt over time. In fact, it is the activity’s capacity to change and adapt that explains castells’ unrivalled persistance and vitality today.

The changes are both technical and social; take for example the incorporation of women into the clubs that began in the 1980s. Furthermore, castells have been the subject of numerous scientific studies that aim to improve the security of the participants. Thanks to these investigations, a protective helmet was designed to safeguard the youngest castellers. Human towers have also become more noticeably present in the media, particularly on the Catalonian channels of Televisió de Catalunya, which has supported castells to such an extent that it has used them to showcase its technological innovations such as, for example, 3D film.