Albert Grau: “Some spots in Tarragona would make our eyes water if we had to travel 10,000Km to see them…”


April’s #lamevatarragona character, talking about his personal Tarragona, works as an administrator and has been a member of one of the most legendary bands in the city, the so-called Mi-te’ls. We agree to meet him at Esperidió Square. First clue; and is a very conclusive one. The square named after a true castells legend in Tarragona (Jaume Tarragó i Plana) in the 19th century, who was part of the quatre de nou tower erected by Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls opposite Tarragona Cathedral in 1881’s Santa Tecla festivity, is one of the most intimate and personal spots for Albert Grau Valls, casteller in Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona.

Plaça de l'Esperidió / © Albert Grau

This is the first spot I’ve chosen, the Esperidió Square, at the top of Cós del Bou Street, by the Roman Circus. The reason why I chose it is because this is the place I grown up as a person. Of course, this is where the Colla Jove premises are located, and so I’ve been in this place since the 80s. I’ve seen the street and indeed the whole neighbourhood go through a deep transformation process, which explains why I feel like at home when I come here. If there is a place that somehow defines me, this will be the area that comprises Cós del Bou Street, Esperidió Square and Baixada de la Peixateria, which comes to sum up what is known as the ciy’s fet casteller (everything related to castells). I really feel like at home”.

Passeig Marítim Rafael Casanova / © Albert Grau

The second spot pictured by Albert is the promenade that joins the city and Arrabassada beach. “The sea is vital to me. And this promenade is where runners and sportspeople like to go. Staring at the sunrise or sunset from here is just incredible. Running along the coastline, by the sea, is fantastic, and it takes me to those places that would make our eyes water if we had to travel 10,000Km to see them. And it is something we’ve got right here”.

Plaça de les Cols / © Albert Grau

Plaça de les Cols (racó) / © Albert Grau

His third choice is yet another historical spot in the city linked to castells, Les Cols Square. Albert however, takes us to a very precise corner. “I chose this corner near Gallo Morón because here’s where those taking part in castells gather before every performance. Back when I was cap de colla (the leader) we would also come her to make any decisions… It is a place that has seen a lot of tension, nervousness, the place where we laugh, but also cry, and all this, added to the square’s history, the place where some legendary castells where erected, makes it so special that I get emotional every time I come nearby”.

Interior del local de la Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona / © Pere Toda - Vilaniu Comunicació

In order to complete the circuit, we ask Albert to go into the premises where he grew up as a casteller to tell us what these 4 walls mean to him. “Colla Jove’s rehearsal building is located right in the middle of the city’s old part. It was a fish market originally. We are now in the right side of Major Street, which used to be the fishermen’s area. Years ago, boats would moor down here, in Miracle beach, not in the port as they do today, since this didn’t exist as it is now. And when colles (castells groups) would come here to perform, fishermen would stay on the right side of the street while farmers would stay on the left side. It then became the firemen’s headquarters, and it was then abandoned for some years, right until the 80s, when we got them back from the City Council. Here’s we we’ve rehearsed some 6, 7, 8, 9 and now 10-store towers, and I’ve been luck enough to take part in all of them. This is my home. This is where I’ve become a casteller, cap de colla, president… I know every corner in the building, back when I was young and foolish, and now that I a grown-up.

Text: Ivan Rodon (@irodon on Twitter / @irodon on Instagram)

Pictures: Pere Toda (@ptodaserra on Instagram)

Video and translation: Artur Santos (@artur_1983 on Twitter)