Mesmerizing Photos of the Human Tower Festivals of Catalonia


Every year in Catalonia, Spain, there are festivals in which people come together to build colorful — and ridiculously tall — human towers that are supported by nothing but the participants’ strength, balance, and courage. These towers are called castells, which means ‘castles’ in Catalan.

Photographer David Oliete visited the Concurs de Castells festival last year and managed to capture beautiful photographs of the tradition from a high vantage point.

Concurs de Castells is the most important of the human tower competitions, and takes place in the city of Tarragona once every two years. Last year, 32 teams from all over the region participated, attracting a live audience of over 20,000 people.

During the tower building events, teams known as collas form tightly bunched crowds consisting of hundreds of people in order to support the towers. The taller and more difficult a tower is, the more points the team scores.

Each tower is typically between six and ten levels high, and each team consists of about 100-500 men, women, and children (the children climb to the top while the adults — especially the heavier ones — form the supports).













You can find more of Oliete’s photos from the festival in this Flickr set and on his personal website.

Castells by David Oliete (via Colossal)

Image credits: Photographs by David Oliete and used with permission

  • Caca Milis

    I remember seeing the ‘Castells’ last year in Reus (20mins from Tarragona) an awesome event and you can see brave kids of about 5/6 years old climbing to the top (one fell but was ok thanks to the human safety net).

  • Geoffrey Froment

    im going to be on the next contest. David Oliete if you come here please tell me how to join this contest :)

  • Esteve Rodella

    Castells is but one of the many unique and interesting traditions Catalans have. Catalonia will likely become independent fromSpain very soon and that will give much more visibiity to these cultural manifestations.

  • dmgarrido

    Dear Esteve, this is related to photos and to castells, please do not refer to politics.

  • madmax

    Esteve, you are Spanish as it is written in your passport. Stop dreaming and please, donĀ“t speak politics in this photography forum.

  • madmax

    Pictures are good and original, but I would prefer a floor or side perspective.

  • John Kantor

    Strength, balance, and courage are not the three words I would use.

  • the all mighty one

    Happy happy joy joy

  • phylicia


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  • yeah

    pretty psychedelic

  • Just to calm readers

    And the helmet that these kids wear.

  • For your info

    You can go to the page of one of the more than 60 “colles” existing today (in fact, the last winner of championship) 3w dot castellersdevilafranca dot cat

  • madmax

    thank you!

  • David Benito

    I am from Catalonia and I am so pleased to read this article tahks for all, visca Catalunya lliure!

  • Phil Dexter

    They do this in the streets of Perpignan too I think.

  • For your info

    You are welcome! For anyone interested in the cultural background of “castells” and other interesting information and links, look at the wikipedia article “Castell”.