The Human Towers of Catalunya by David Oliete

David Oliete is a freelance photographer born in Tarragona, Spain. After living in Cardiff and Barcelona he currently works on mainly social and documentary projects. His work has been exhibited abroad, published in international media and awarded at contests such as the International Photography Awards, the Travel Photographer of the Year and the Seoul International Short Film Festival, in Korea.

The human towers (known as “castells” in Catalan) are traditionally built at festivals in the region of Catalonia, Spain. During these events each team (known as “colla”) builds and dismantles its own human towers. For their success, a stunning base of hundreds of people needs to be previously (and perfectly) set up. The “castells” are one of the most important cultural traditions in Catalonia for more than 200 years. “Strength, balance, courage and common sense” has become their motto. On 2010, the “castells” were declared by UNESCO to be amongst the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

I absolutely believe that the values the “Castells” transmit and what they represent to the Catalan people make them one of the most beautiful and stunning cultural traditions worldwide. You just need to take a look at what they are to understand that you must enjoy them some day. Moreover, I am so lucky to live in Tarragona, one of the most important cities in Catalonia in terms of “Castells” (we’ve got four different teams in the city) and the place where the Concurs de Castells (human tower competition) takes place once every two years. I’ve been the official photographer of the last Concurs de Castells and the author of its video in 2012.

I have no doubt: I photograph the castells because I think they are one of the most impressive and beautiful event to catch in a frame. Worldwide. All the values and feelings that they transmit are absolutely amazing, and I truly think that there aren’t many other activities or traditions in the world capable of transmitting what castells do.


All photos by David Oliete