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The Incredible Human Pyramid Festival in Tarragona

Meghna Tongiya Mar 22, 2020
Concurs de Castell festival, or as it is popularly known as the Human Pyramid Festival, is held biannually in the city of Tarragona, Spain. Attracting thousands of tourists from all over the world, this festival is definitely a feast to the eyes and something which shouldn't be missed.

History of the Festival

The festival dates back to the 18th century and is believed to have originated when local dance groups started forming human towers or pyramids representing their Catalan culture.

Eligibility Criteria for Participation

Anyone from the ages of 5-95 can come and help in building these human pyramids. Defying gender bias, women also participate with full vigor and enthusiasm.

Structure of the Human Pyramid

The pyramid structure consists of two parts: The trunk (top layers of the pyramid) and the pineapple (supporting people on the ground).
The pyramid is considered to be complete only when the smallest member called the 'enxaneta' reaches the top and raises his/her four fingers symbolizing the stripes of the Catalan flag.

Teams in the Human Pyramid Festival

The 50 best teams from around the country participate in the festival, and each team consist of approximately 500 members.

Dress Code

Every team has its own colorful uniform that distinguishes it from other teams. Also, every Castellar wears a black sash called 'flexia', which also provides support to the Castellar's back.

The Support Staff

The Castellars start building the towers with flutes and drums playing in the background. The tune changes according to the different phases of the tower building. It also helps stir up the emotions of the Castellars.

Falls and Injuries

As appealing as it may sound, the human pyramid can get really dangerous and lead to injuries; on the rare occasion, it has even proven fatal. Accidents have been rare though, and only two fatalities have been reported in the past 30 years.

Significance of the Festival

The human pyramid festival of Tarragona has been declared as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The Winners!

The teams get five rounds to build their towers, and the final score is decided from the three best attempts. Also, just building the Castell is not enough, successful dispersion is also equally important for a team to win.

Record for the Highest Pyramid

In 2011, a Spanish Castell group named 'Castellers de Vilafranca', set a new world record of building the tallest human pyramid (10 stories) on a trip to participate in the Indian festival called 'Dahi Handi, which is quite similar to the Human Pyramid Festival of Tarragona.