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castelleres at Sitges | by keithhull
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castelleres at Sitges

I have never seen the castellers at work before but I caught some in Sitges in October. Apart from being visually exiting you have to imagine loud brass bands playing and hundreds of spectators cheering. It is catalunya at it most thrilling. It is always a small child who goes to the top this was a girl of eight you can see her red helmet. If this happened in England the health and safety police would be there to stop up. But imagine being a child on top of a tower of her friends and relatives Viva

I was not expecting this event so had no tripod so it was hand held it a large crows so its far from perfect but considering the situation I was pretty happy with the results

The tradition of building castells originated in Valls, near the city of Tarragona, in the southern part of Catalonia towards the end of the 18th century. Later it developed a following in other regions of Catalonia and, since 1981, when the first castell of 9 levels of the 20th century was built, it has become very popular in most of Catalonia

In Catalan the word castell means castle.

A castell is considered a success when stages of its assembling and disassembling, can be done in complete succession. The assembly is complete once all castellers have climbed into their designated places, and the enxaneta climbs into place at the top and raises one hand with four fingers erect, in a gesture said to symbolize the stripes of the Catalan flag. The enxaneta then climbs down the other side of the castell, after which the remaining levels of castellers descend in highest-to-lowest order until all have reached safety.

Aside from the people who climb to form the upper parts of the tower, others are needed to form the pinya, or bottom base of the castell, to sustain its weight. Members of the pinya (most often men) [3] also act as a 'safety net' if the tower structure collapses, cushioning the fall of people from the upper levels.

The castell is built in two phases. First, the pinya the base of the tower is formed. People forming higher levels of the tower move to a position from which they can easily get to their place in the tower. This is done slowly and carefully,[4] and as subsequent base levels are completed the castellers in the pinya determine if their base is solid enough for construction to continue. Then, when the signal to proceed is given, bands begin to play traditional music as a hush comes over spectators of the event. The upper layers of the tower are built as quickly as possible in order to put minimal strain on the lower castellers, who bear most of the weight of the castell. The disassembly of the castell, done amidst the cheering of the crowd, is often the most treacherous stage of the event.



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Taken on October 23, 2010