Blog

Versión Original

Climbing To The Sky: Castells

Castellers in Barcelona (Spain)

With the extensive spanish course students at Versión Original we got deep into Barcelona’s popular culture and went on a different touristic tour. We went to the rehearsal of “Colla castellera the vila de Gràcia” to have an original and entertaining evening.

“Castellers” in front of Sagrada Familia
“Castellers” in front of Sagrada Familia

One of the more traditional things that impress most visitors who come to Barcelona are the so-called “castells” (“castles” in Catalan). You might not have heard of them, but you probably have seen them.

Each group or “colla” has a different colour

Each group or “colla” has a different colour 

These human towers vary in height, shape and difficulty. The most beautiful thing about these constructions is that they are carried away by men and women of all ages and, although each “castell” is done by a different group of people, the audience always helps in order to make the structure stronger in the event the castle falls down, so that the climbing “castellers” don’t get  hurt.

The “piña” is the base of the “castell”

The “piña” is the base of the “castell”

In Barcelona there is saying: “hacer piña” that comes from this tradition.  The “piña” is the lowest part of the “castell” where people are grouped strongly together to prevent those above them from falling. The higher up, the smaller and lighter the person, so there is always a little boy or girl at the very top (they are called “enxaneta”). When they lift their hand, it means the castle has been successfully erected. The aim is also to undo the castle without falling, but that’s not always the case.

The audience also participates

The audience also participates

“Castells” can be seen in almost all traditional festivals of different areas of Barcelona and also in many villages and towns throughout Catalonia and if you have never seen them live, it is something we highly recommend. In order to see it, you have several options. One of them is waiting for the next traditional festival of a village, district or city. Another suggestion is to see the rehearsals as we did with some students. Many of these “colles castelleres” (“castle clubs”) have open rehearsals and in some cases you can even participate. In Barcelona you can watch the rehearsals while having a coffee at the bar of the Colla Castellera de Barcelona (C/ Bilbao, 212-214, in Poblenou) or you can become an active part of the “piña” at the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia (C/ Alzina, 7,  in Gràcia).

“Castellers” rehearsing

“Castellers” rehearsing

Leave a Reply