Spain has a multitude of novel traditions. While bullfighting and tomato throwing festivals are known worldwide, there’s another custom that isn’t as widely recognized. Throughout Catalonia, people who create human towers – also known as castellers – compete to see who can create the tallest human pyramids. Only these flesh-and-muscle structures aren’t really pyramids at all; they are single and multiple-tiered assemblages that are supposed to resemble castles. The Catalan tradition is said to have begun in the 18th century, and today it is still going strong. These castells have a bulky, sturdy bottom with several layers, usually culminating with a small child on top.
As you’ll see in the video above by Mike Randolph from a recent festival in Tarragona, Spain, being a casteller can end in tumbles and falls. In fact, in the sport’s history, two castellers have died – one in 1983 and another more recently in 2006. Although it can be risky, the practice is considered sacred; the knowledge required for raising castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation, much like gondoliering in Venice, Italy. In fact, UNESCO considers castellers to be amongst the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”