Teamwork, effort and a spirit of self-improvement. These are the values that embody "Els castells" (human towers), a cultural practice with more than 200 years of history and declared in 2010 as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The oldest references to these human towers date back to the eighteenth century b>: the towers consisting of two or three people were the culmination of the "Ball de Valencians" (Valencians' Dance) unique to the festivals in the province of Tarragona. When these towers became independent from the rest of the festivities, "els castells" developed into an exhibition with its own character.
Its popularity has fluctuated over the years. After becoming established in the nineteenth century, with "castells" of up to nine levels, the practice declined in the early twentieth century, and resurfaced during the 1960s.
The golden era of "els castells" began in the 1990s and continues today. The creation of new groups with a young and multicultural profile, achieving spectacular new feats, and television broadcasting of "castells" exhibitions have contributed to its resurgence.
Today there are more than 100 groups in the Països Catalans (Catalan territory), with 12,000 participants and 12,000 "castells"being built every year.