Photo Story – Catalans compete to build the biggest human towers in Spain

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TARRAGONA (Reuters) – Spain’s biggest human towers competition took place on Sunday, with some 11,000 spectators packing the bullring in the northeastern city of Tarragona to watch the daring Catalan tradition. 

Human towers, or ‘castells’, were added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010 as an “integral part of (Catalan) cultural identity”.

The tradition dates back to the 18th century, when people first started building human towers in the Catalan town of Valls. 

Members of Joves de Valls’s Colla team begin to form their ‘castell’ or human tower during Castells contest’s final in Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain, 02 October 2022. The ‘castells’, human constructions in the form of towers, where each ‘casteller’ stands on the shoulders of the one below up to a height of between four and ten levels, are included in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

EPA-EFE/Enric Fontcuberta

In an event held in Tarragona every two years, teams of ‘castellers’ compete to construct the highest and most complicated tower by standing on each other’s shoulders. 

The team from Vilafranca beat 40 other groups to take the top spot and scoop the 16,000 euro ($15,679) prize at the competition, which takes place every two years. 

Their tower reached 10 tiers high – around 13 metres (43 ft)- and a combination of height and skill, including a safe dismount, gave them the most points.

The youngest and most nimble team members – wearing a protective helmet – scrambled up the backs and shoulders of their teammates to the top.

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