VILAFRANCA DEL PENEDÈS – In a breathtaking display of strength, poise and courage, the Castellers de Vilafranca made history again at the annual Tot Sants castell competition. They ‘built’ a human tower of no less than 9 layers.
It is the first time that this club has managed to ‘load’ a “9 de 9”. This is a human tower construction consisting of 9 layers, in which each layer consists of 9 people. This has never been tried before. Loading and successfully disassembling a “9 de 9” is an impressive achievement. Furthermore, it is a testament to the group’s high level of skill.
Only one ‘enxaneta’ on top
Adding to the challenge, the tower only had one ‘enxaneta’ on top, instead of the usual three. An enxaneta is the youngest participant, usually a child, because of being lightweight, small, and agile. He climbs the tower to the top and raises a hand with four fingers extended, symbolising the Catalan flag. This gesture marks the successful completion of the castell.
Despite the increased difficulty and a moment of instability during the third round of support, the base – consisting of approximately 500 people and with an estimated weight of more than 12,000 kilos – managed to hold its ground. The performance attracted a crowd of almost 6,000 spectators who filled Vilafranca’s main square.
What are Castells?
Castells are impressive human towers and are a Catalan tradition that attracts thousands of spectators at various festivals and celebrations every year. The towers are carefully constructed from layers of ‘Castellers’, which support and balance each other in a spectacular example of collective effort. The enxaneta then climbs the tower and greets the audience from the top, symbolizing the completion of the Castell.
Castells require tremendous physical strength, excellent balance, and deep trust between the castells. The lower layers, known as the ‘pinya’, act as a solid base and absorb the pressure from the layers above. The higher the tower, the greater the challenge and risk.
Cultural world heritage
This tradition, which requires both courage and community spirit, has been recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The recent achievement of the Castellers de Vilafranca underlines the continued evolution and passion of this unique Catalan tradition.