Catalunya Castells Human Towers–TBEX12 @CostaBrava

The European Travel Blog Exchange Conference, TBEX12 Costa Brava opened Thursday night September 20 at Sant Gregori Castle outside Girona, Catalunya, as they say locally. In English we say Girona, Catalonia, Spain.

Castell de Sant Gregori, Girona, Catalunya

The travel conference opening night’s entertainment was a human tower performance. In English terms this means people standing on top of each other with a child climbing to the top of the tower.

Here are photos of two of several towers created by the Catalan performers at a castle near the medieval town of Girona, about 60 miles north of Barcelona, Spain.

This event truly brings meaning to the phrase:

“€œIt takes a village to raise a child.€”

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Long strips of cloth are stretched out between participants. I assume this is for back support.

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Adults provided the necessary foundation to build support for a child to reach great heights.

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A strong foundation with community support is vital before the final project proceeds. The performers recruited TBEX crowd volunteers. They asked me to participate, but I really do have to be careful with my back after re-rupturing a spinal disk earlier this year.

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Level Two of the human tower or castell is one man standing on the shoulders of the group of people.

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The third level of the “castell” human tower.

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A child climbed to the fourth level to top out this first human tower. The child is holding the flag of Catalunya, or Catalonia in English, at a height probably 16 feet into the air. Therefore, the crash helmet.

By Catalunya human tower tradition, the top person of the tower is usually a child.

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A band played as the child ascended the tower.


Tower #2 reached five levels high.

The objective of castells is to construct elaborate human towers. The group performing these castells created three or four towers and each one was a different construction reaching up to six levels in height.

Castells have been up to ten humans high in Catalan competitions. UNESCO apparently referred to castelling as an example of an “intangible cultural heritage”.

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“My hands are strong I know” – Jewel.

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Level 2

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Level 3 here reveals why backs need to be wrapped for support.

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Traditionally a child climbs to the top level. As the person climbs to level 4 in this tower, there is a 6-year old child climbing the men standing at the second level.

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As two persons are getting in position at the fourth level of the human tower, the six year old child is climbing up the third level of men.

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My slow reload camera missed the child at the top as the 5th story of the human tower. The child is some 20 feet off the ground.

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From what I have read about mountain climbing, it is the descent that can be most troublesome. This child is climbing down the human tower. Fortunately no problems in deconstructing this castell.

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When I look at these photos and picture little American kids in my wife’s kindergarten class participating in a sport like this, I think of the country song “Mamas don’€™t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”.

Is there a Catalan version of the song “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be castellers”?

Probably not. Castelling is Catalunya’s intangible cultural heritage.

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The performers told me these children start training at age 3 or 4 to build castells, but the children do not perform publicly until 5 years of age.

I will spare you mamas the agony of seeing a six level tower with what appeared to be an 8 or 9-year old child climbing to the top.

Thanks to the people of Catalunya  and Costa Brava Tourism who provided the TBEX12 Europe travel bloggers a memorable sight and night at Castell de Sant Gregori.


Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. We attended a day long festival in Catalonia a couple of summers ago. The parade of larger than life figures, some of them caricatures of local politicians (who were in attendance), and then the Castellar competition, made for an unforgettable experience. The towers that day were seven levels. It was hard to watch at times, but simply amazing. A unique experience and one I would highly recommend.

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