Flamenco & Castells Added to UNESCO List
There was cause for celebration for lovers of both Spanish and Catalan culture earlier this month when the results of a UNESCO meeting in Nairobi were declared. Both the traditional gypsy dance of flamenco and the famed Catalan human towers or 'Castells' were added to the UNESCO list of intangible world heritages to preserve.
Although flamenco originated in the south of Spain, in Andalusia, Barcelona has its own close association with flamenco: it was here that the fated lovers Juana La Zoronga and Rafael El Taranto fell in love in the famous Somorrostro shanty town and flamenco'ed their way through the city in the hit 1963 musical Los Tarantos. (The Somorrostro was later bulldozed in the 1980s for the Olympic Games - although interestingly it was the actual birthplace of Carmen Amaya, a flamenco dancer and singer of Romani origin who starred in Los Tarantos). Today you'll find plenty of 'tablaos' in Barcelona where you can see and hear flamenco performed.
The Castells meanwhile are one of Catalonia's proudest traditions, and anyone who has witnessed one of these human towers being built will know why. With great strength and dexterity, not to mention bravery, the castellers (as they are known), clamber on top of one another, standing on shoulders and linking arms so that a castle is made, up to eight or so stories high, with each storey containing increasing fewer men or women. When done in full ceremonial dress it's quite a spectacle, so keep your eyes out on our Barcelona events calendar for any local festivals which boast some tower power!