Lonely Planet Writer

See these incredible people towers from Catalonia's Human Tower Competition

Hundreds of people came together to build human castles in the north-east region of Tarragona this weekend. The Human Tower Competition is a human tower building event that takes place every two years with the participation of the main teams (colles) in the country. Catalonia is the home of the sport, which dates back to the 18th century.

Members of the colla 'Castellers de Vilafranca' fall down as they built a human tower during the 26th Tarragona Competition on October 2, 2016 in Tarragona, Spain. The 'Castellers' who build the human towers with precise techniques compete in groups, know as 'colles', at local festivals with aim to build the highest and most complex human tower.
Members of the colla ‘Castellers de Vilafranca’ fall down as they built a human tower during the 26th Tarragona Competition on October 2, 2016 in Tarragona, Spain. Image by David Ramos/Getty Images

The 26th edition of the tradition ended after three days of competition, with over 200,000 attending the event to watch people building human towers or “castells”.


The aim of the competition is simply to build the strongest, tallest and most complex tower of people, with men, women and children all competing.

Human tower
Hundreds of people – including women and children – came together to build human castles in the north-east region of Tarragona. Image by: Emilio Morenatti/AP/PA

The structure of the castells varies depending on their complexity. A castell is considered completely successful when it is loaded and unloaded without falling apart.

Members of the colla 'Castellers de la Vila de Gracia' climb up as they construct a human tower during the 26th Tarragona Competition on October 2, 2016 in Tarragona, Spain.
Members of the colla ‘Castellers de la Vila de Gracia’ climb up as they construct a human tower. Image by Getty Images

The Catalan tradition is believed to have originated from human towers built at the end of the 18th century by dance groups and is part of the Catalan culture.

 Members of the colla 'Xiquets de Hanghzou' celebrate after building a human tower
Members of the colla ‘Xiquets de Hanghzou’ celebrate after building a human tower Image by David Ramos/Getty Images)

This year saw a foreign team compete for the first time. “Els Xiquets de Hangzhou”, a team from China took part, coming second on Saturday. The team received a standing ovation for their tower, which was assembled with three people per level in a tower of nine. The highest castell in history was a ten floor structure with three people in each floor.