Skip to navigationSkip to content
Reuters/Albert Gea
Bit of a balancing act.
WHY NOT?

Photos: 200 Chinese textile workers take on the traditional Spanish sport of “human towers”

By Selina Cheng

This October, over 200 Chinese textile workers will pile on top of each other to form a human tower in Tarragona, Spain. They will be the only non-Spanish team to compete in the Concurs de Castells, a 200-year-old tradition in Spain’s northern Catalonia region.

Catalan human towers, or castells, are formed with a large, round base of adults, with children scrambling upwards to form higher tiers. The young child who crowns the the tower raises four fingers to represent the Catalan flag, according to a festival website called Fest300. This year, the Chinese team faces off against 41 Spanish teams.

The team, called Els Xiquets de Hangzhou in Catalan, or The Children of Hangzhou, was founded by a Chinese textile factory owner Qian Anhua in 2010. He fell in love with the tradition after visiting Catalonia, and decided to create his own team with employees from his company Antex Fashion.

“Castellers represent balance, moderation, both pillars of the Chinese classical philosophy,” Qian told Xinhua News, the official Chinese news agency.

Chinese media report that the Children of Hangzhou have already appeared several times on reality TV shows in China, including a failed attempt to break the Guinness World Record of the tallest human tower in 2012.

Here’s what a human tower looks like:

Reuters/Albert Gea
Castellers Capgrossos de Mataro fall down after forming a human tower called “castell” during Sant Pere festival in El Masnou, near Barcelona.
Reuters/Stringer
Spanish castellers form a human tower called a “castell” during a performance at the City God Pavilion in Hangzhou, China, July 2, 2015.
Reuters/Albert Gea
Castellers Colla Vella Xiquets de Valls form a human tower, called “castell”, during a biannual competition in Tarragona.