The World’s Most Amazing Spectator Sport

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What is the world’s most amazing spectator sport, you ask? Not bullfighting. Not Zorbing. Not even the crazy sport known as Wife-Carrying. It’s called the Concurs de Castells, and it is a championship human tower building competition that happens every other year in the Catalonian town of Tarragona, just south of Barcelona.

I emphasize “spectator sport” because I would never subject myself to this sort of strenuous torture, but damn, is it incredible to watch! These towers, called Castells (Catalan for “castles”), have been formed by the local communities for over 300 years and can be built as tall as 10 people high!

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This is a just measly 9 person tower.

The Castells are so deeply embedded in the Catalonian culture, that parents gladly send their nimble youngsters as young as 4 years old to train with the local teams without blinking an eye.

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She’s so adorable!

Allow me to convince you just why Castells are so damn cool.

1. First of all, the stadium is absolutely packed with Castellers and spectators alike, and each community dons its own local colors to show solidarity. This creates a beautiful mosaic on which the whole spectacle is created.

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A sea of Casteller colors.

2. The culture of the Catalonians. Technically, Catalonia is a region of Spain, but as you can see, these people are proud to celebrate their independent culture and heritage by making these magnificent structures. It was amazing to attend because the stadium was filled with locals, without a tourist in sight! (Except for us, of course.)

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Starting the show by singing and holding flags for the Catalonian independence movement.

3. Also, people climb on top of each other, and that’s just funny to watch.

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Don’t mind me! Just stepping on a few heads and shoulders.

4. It’s not just the same tower being built over and over again; there is a lot of variety. Teams get different points for the difficulty of each tower made. The points are roughly based on:

  • How many people tall.
  • How many people per level.
  • How many people support the second layer.
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I think this is a 9 by 8 tower.

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This is a 3 by 10 with extra support at the bottom.

5. Little kids put themselves in danger. Sure, this may not be considered a good thing in many cultures, but you absolutely have to admire these tiny fearless climbers. They are so agile and efficient because every second they are on the tower, they risk falling nearly 4 stories to the ground below.

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Notice how high they are in comparison to the spectators behind them.

6. And while they may be professionals, falls definitely happen. You can feel the tension in the entire stadium as a Castell begins to shake, then there is an audible gasp and moan when it finally comes apart and its participants come crashing down on one another.

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Roughly speaking, a little less than half of the towers in the competition fell. I happened to capture this one right as the fall started. 

7. Why else do I love it? Incredible team work. You are literally only as strong as your weakest link.

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Castellers getting ready to form the base.

8. Let’s not forget the fanfare! As every tower is finishing being built, the team band chimes in with a little diddy to signify that their tower will be judged for points.

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Not sure what the instrument is. Something like an oboe. 

9. The celebration! Once a tower has been successfully taken down, the entire stadium cheers that no one had to be brought out on a stretcher!

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This kid is just so happy for his community. 

10. The price! You wouldn’t believe how cheap the tickets actually were. Sure, I had to ensure I was online at precisely 10 am when ticket sales were open, try to navigate my way through the Catalan website, and frantically buy the tickets before the whole 5000 person stadium sold out in 20 minutes, but it only cost €12 per seat! It’s a bargain, if you ask me!

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Definitely worth it. 

So there you have it. That is why the Concurs de Castells is the BEST SPORTING EVENT EVER! But if I haven’t been able to fully convince you (or even if I have), check out the short video of the event below. If you like it, I strongly recommend you check out this video showcasing all of the Castells made that day. It’s 30 minutes of gut-wrenching fun!

Until next time, I leave you with some GIFs!

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What do you think? Have I convinced you to go to the next championship competition in 2018? Leave me your comments below! 

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