Touching the sky with the hand.

Yesterday we were privileged to see one of Catalonias best kept secret traditions.  Castells, Human Towers.

These  human constructions are carefully, speedily raised towards the heavens, briefly, loudly celebrated and then brought safely back to earth.

They are heart stopping, breath taking and truly inspiring of awe and wonder.

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The start of the evening’s competition.

These things don’t happen anywhere else in Spain. Josep Almiral in his book ‘Human Towers, Castells, touching the Sky with the Hand’ says,

“They are an exercise in special co-operation almost unique in the world that set out to achieve ephemeral challenges.”

They can be up to ten stories high and the smallest humans,  tiny boys and girls clamber monkey-like to the top of the tower raise a hand to the sky and then clamber back down.  They are judged and given a score and there is a winner of the competition.

The clothing is chosen and worn in a way that enables the castellers to get purchase on the bodies below them.  They are an integral part of the Catalan cultural identity, recognised in 2010 by Unesco, the Catalan Parliament and Spanish  Governments as a tradition rooted in the history and identity of Catalonia.

The castells are constructed throughout the year and the organising body  has a web site so that you can see the calendar of events throughout the eight months they go on through the year.

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A casteller getting dressed in his 5 and a half meter waistband.

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Tucking the end in.  A coloured scarf is often added for extra grip.  The climbers use them to hold on to.

Tucking the end in. A coloured scarf is often added for extra grip. The climbers use them to hold on to.

 

The photos below show one construction of many last night.

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The hands raised to the sky to start the building.

 

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Second layer getting in place.

 

 

Third.

Third.

 

Fourth.

Fourth.

 

Fifth.

Fifth.

 

Sixth

Sixth

 

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Seventh.

 

Eighth.

Eighth.

 

Ninth, The child at the top looked 6 years old.

Ninth, The child at the top looked 6 years old.

Yes, it is safe, yes they do fall down and no they don’t get hurt often.  They land on people who are reaching up to catch them.

I am hooked.