Castells and SUCTI

The practice of building castells (human towers) is said to have been started by Catalan farmers in 1712 in the city of Valls (Tarragona region). Today there are more than 70 colles castelleres (teams) doing human towers during the traditional season from April to November.

Castells are human towers built by members of amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivities in Catalan towns and cities. The traditional setting is the square in front of the town hall. The men, women and children who make human towers are known as castellers. They make them by standing on each other’s shoulders to create a series of ‘floors’ (between six and ten).

The clothing worn by castellers is highly distinctive and each team can be identified by its own costume, particularly the colour of the shirts. A cummerbund is also worn to protect the back and to enable the castellers to grip onto something as they climb up the tower. Before, during and after the performance, musicians mark the rhythm to which the tower is built by playing a variety of traditional melodies on a wind instrument known as the gralla. The knowledge required for building castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a group and can only be learned by practice.

Castells were declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010, which means, among other things, that they “are recognized by Catalan people as an integral part of their cultural identity, transmitted from generation to generation and providing community members with a sense of continuity, social cohesion and solidarity.”

Why does SUCTI use the image of “Castells”?

  • Because building a castell is a team effort. Each and every casteller (person in a castell) is crucial to the success of the tower. Likewise, without the important contribution of each and every member of staff in a university to the internationalization effort, internationalization will not fully succeed.
  • Because it is a beautiful tradition from the Tarragona region, the home of the URV.
    Although we are highly committed to internationalization, we still believe that roots are very important and should play a role in the internationalization effort. They are not opposites. They can and should go hand in hand. If our identity does not feel threatened and we are able to be who we are, then we will be much better at promoting internationalization.
  • Because they transmit the values that SUCTI shares: The motto of Castellers is “Força, equilibri, valor i seny” (Strength, balance, courage and wisdom). Likewise, the SUCTI also aims to have the strength to go far, the balance to be positive for all involved, the courage to succeed, and the wisdom to make this project a global reality.

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