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A castell is a human tower built traditionally in festivals at many locations within Catalonia, Spain. At these festivals, several colles castelleres or teams often succeed in building and sustain a tower's structure for a certain length of time.

The tradition of building human towers originated in Valls, near the city of Tarragona, in the southern part of Catalonia towards the end of the 18th century. Later it developed a following in other regions of Catalonia and even Majorca, and currently has become very popular in parts of Spain. However, the best and most skilled castellers are still found near Tarragona.

In Catalan the word castell means castle.

A castell is considered a success when stages of its assembling and disassembling, can be done in complete succession. The final assemblement occurs when everyone has climbed into their designated places, where the enxaneta, the last person, often a child has climbed up to the top, and has raised one hand with four fingers erect, said to symbolize the stripes of the Catalan flag. The exaneta then climbs down to the other side of the castell, where every other person of the castell can then climb down in order from highest to lower parts of the castell to safety.

Aside from the people who actually climb to make upper parts of the tower, others are needed to form the pinya, base of the castell, to sustain its weight. These people, often men act as a 'safety net' if the tower structure collapses and people from the upper parts of the tower are then able to fall on them, cushioning their impact when compared directly hitting the ground.

The castell is built in two phases. First, the pinya the base of the tower is formed. People forming the upper levels of the tower move to a position from which they can easily get to their place in the tower. This is done slowly and carefully, and when completed, fellow castellers on ground make a decision if the base is solid enough to continue to build it. Once a go ahead is given, music traditionally accompanied with building such towers is played by music bands, and crowd observers the building quieten down. The upper layers of the tower are built as quickly so the lower castellers who carry the most weight of the castell do not become overly strained given the weight they have to bear. The break up of the tower is often the most risky part of the stage, is done under the clapping and cheering of a crowd.

All info on internet.

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Additional Photos by Maria Blanca Gomez (maria) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 214 W: 21 N: 487] (3288)
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