Joan Sala, Xiquets de Tarragona casteller: “Plaça de les Cols has that bit of magic only a few other squares in Catalonia provide”

Joan Sala / ©Pere Toda-Vilaniu Comunicació

Joan Sala is one of the best well-known faces within the Colla de Castellers Xiquets de Tarragona, for which he’s been both “cap de colla” and president. Joan, as you’ll get to see on this post, is an active militant of the Part Alta, the place where he lives and what has become a sort of micro cosmos of his personal life for years. No wonder his three pictures for the #lamevatarragona project, that is, his most personal and intimate Tarragona, were all taken within the walls.

Plaça de les Cols / ©Joan Sala

His first photograph shows what can be considered as the sancta santorum for castells in the city. “I’ve chosen Plaça de les Cols because, for Tarragona citizens, performing in this square for Sant Magí festivity is a true honour, as this is spot with 200 years of history. Performing here doesn’t just mean today’s castells world, but something our ancestors also did. Besides, it has that bit of magic only a few other squares in Catalonia provide. For every casteller in Tarragona it is a true honour being able to perform here, and for Xiquets de Tarragona in particular, after years and years, it provides one of the best experiences throughout the year”.

Plaça del Fòrum / ©Joan Sala

Just a few metres from Plaça de les Cols, we find Plaça del Fòrum, the second spot pictured by Joan Sala. “I’ve picked Plaça del Fòrum because my parents live just some 200 metres from here, and I live just 50 metres away. I remember, as a child, spending the whole summer playing in this square next to some two-thousand-year stones. The place has changed immensely in the last few years. To me, this square has always been a sort of Plaça de la Font young sister, and it has been slowly discovered by locals and tourists. I particularly like siting and watching people walk by in the summer, with tourists on kind of typical route: from the Cathedral to Plaça del Rei. In my case, I think it’s a question of both personal and city pride, for what I reckon Plaça del Fòrum perfectly represents this blend, this symbiosis”.

Circ romà / ©Joan Sala

The third photo provided by Joan shows the so-called Volta del Circ Romà. “To me, this is a familiar thing. I come here very often with my daughters, who are completely addicted to the Voltes and the whole question of Tarraco. Places like this, once you’ve had the chance to travel around the world, make it easier to fall in love with Tarragona. Every local should really visit the place, as it is a truly amazing experience. The boards tell us about the activity within the Circus and the way everything was back then, which provides a romantic charm. I personally love it”.

As the perfect cherry on the cake, we decide to stay within the Part Alta with Joan Sala and meet him in what it could be considered as his second home: the premises of the Xiquets de Tarragona, in Santa Anna street. “This is my team, the matalassers, and it has been for the last 21 years. Xiquets de Tarragona, heir of the whole Tarragona castells tradition, heirs of those that had preceded them. I think that being a casteller of Xiquets de Tarragona is about your lifestyle. My entire life moves around the Xiquets, the rehearsals, performances, personal relations with your mates… I am very happy indeed to have chosen this last location for the occasion, and having the chance to show others the entrance to the premises, as it is very important to me. I believe we Xiquets are one of the most important entities in Tarragona and it is, somehow, a way of living and feeling castells, as well as the history of Tarragona”.

Text: Ivan Rodon (@irodon on Twitter)
Pictures: Pere Toda (@ptodaserra on Instagram)
Translation: Artur Santos (@artur_1983 on Twitter)