Thursday, October 29, 2009

Castellers de Barcelona

Catalonia's Castels (human castles for the gringos among us) first came to my attention in the Spanish coastal city of Tarragona. Walking down the city's rambla, I stumbled across a sculpture replicating a castel. I was immediately in awe. Six layers of human beings held up by a large mass of men and women pushing and packed like sardines. Could this really exist?
The answer is decidely 'yes.' As luck would have it, a visit to the Barcelona's Sagrade Familia allowed me to stumble across a flyer advertising a Sunday competition of Barcelona's Castellers. For those lucky enough to visit, it seems that this competition is held every Sunday and is completely free.Watching these men and boys, women and girls, climbing one on top of the other to reach staggering heights was exhilarating. Keep in mind these people are not on grass or padded mats; they are standing on top of not so forgiving concrete. My palms were sweaty (although I have to admit that my palms sometimes get sweaty after a touching AT&T commercial).No one knows for sure when this tradition first came into existence. Some say that castellers evolved from 16th-century folk dances, others claim that the towers represented religious paintings or human simulacra of the crucifixion of Christ. Regardless, this is sight to see with your very own eyes.

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