'Castells' in Tarragona

Xiquets de Tarragona/Rafael López-Monné

It’s eight o’clock on the dot. It is hot; the warm sunlight heats up the city. Breaking the imposed silence by the previous night excesses, away they go some musicians at the sound of the gralla (a type of Catalan popular wooden oboe). There are tables everywhere ready to honour the god Bacchus. People do the honours; eating, drinking, and a lot of noise. All of a sudden… trumpets and thunders, dances of fire, mythological creatures. Here we go again, it is a festivity, but not any.

People start filling up the square like little streams towards a river. More noise, more shouts. Some are lost in thought: ‘Toros in here?’. Someone says so; there will be some horns, although only two-legged. There are also tiny people with slanting eyes, ready behind Mrs Nikon and Mrs Hasselblad. Pretty soon they won’t stop clicking their releases. There’s a balcony with people in costumes; they pop in and out, non-stop; all of them able to speak different languages, but unable to understand a word.

People in coloured shirts can be spotted. Some are striped, some are green, blue and also purple: they are the colles (human-tower teams). The stream has turned into a river now. There’s tension. ‘We won’t make it!’, as every single year.

Hope they fix this once and for all!’ Despite complaints, everyone eventually makes it. People start crowding together, one on top of the other. The whole square, copying the ones climbing, becomes all shaky. There’s a little kid that makes it to the top, and waves his hand; everyone applauses with all their strength.

What are they doing?’ –asks some distracted guy–. ‘They’re making castells’, –he’s answered–. We make castells in Tarragona. Do you fancy coming?

Written by Enric Seritjol
Translated by Artur Santos
Photography by Rafael López-Monné

Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona/Rafael López-Monné

Xiquets del Serrallo/Rafael López-Monné

Castellers de Sant Pere i Sant Pau / Rafael López-Monné

Concurs de Castells de Tarragona / Rafael López-Monné

Tarragona has four ‘Colles Castellers’ (human towers’ teams) :
Xiquets de Tarragona
Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona
Xiquets del Serrallo
Castellers de Sant Pere i Sant Pau

Main Castellers performances in Tarragona:
April 23, Sant Jordi. From 7.30pm at ‘Rambla Nova’.
June 24, Sant Joan. From 7.30pm at ‘Plaça de la Font’.
August 19, Sant Magí. From 12pm at ‘Plaça de les Cols’.
September 11, Catalonia National Festivity. From 7.30pm at ‘Rambla Nova’.
September 15 (First Sunday during ‘Santa Tecla’ Festivities). From 12pm at ‘Plaça de la Font’.
September 23, Santa Tecla. From 1pm at ‘Plaça de la Font’.
September 24, ‘la Mercè’ Festivity. From 1pm at ‘Plaça de les Cols’.
First weekend of October (only on even years), The Castells Competition. From 10am at ‘Tarraco Arena Plaça’.