La Merce: a unique Spanish street festival

Famous for its tradition of building human towers, La Merce festival honors the patron saint of Barcelona and is held annually in Spain.

At the end of September every year in Barcelona (Spain), indigenous people and tourists from everywhere are eager to participate in La Merce festival - the largest street festival of the year in this city.

Starting from the honor of the saint who protected the city


La Merce has a tradition in the 18th century in the town of Valls, Tarragona, where many groups compete to build the best human towers. The festival was held for the first time to honor the saint who protected the city - who had great merit in protecting people during the epidemic in Europe in the 17th century.

This tradition has still been passed down for centuries, and up to now a series of acrobatic actors are still competing to build the most impressive and highest strongholds.

The tradition of building unique human towers


As usual, everyone gathers in the square of Sant Jaume, surrounded by thousands of spectators. The works are built by artists, both professional and amateur, to compete for the championship. There are tens of floors high tower, requiring human material to have health, courage, ingenuity, teamwork, reasonable assignment, under the command of chief engineer.

Participants must calculate carefully and accurately to ensure safety. Usually, the healthier and fat members will stand on the lower floors and the nimble members will be on the upper floors. The lightest one will stand up to the top of the tower.

The masterful technique is required


In order to build a solid human tower, the masterful technique is required. First, the foundation of the tower is formed according to strict rules, requiring all team members to be in the assigned position. Next, the strongholds begin to rise, the strongest members in the group will be placed on the lower floors, while the quickest and lightest people will climb onto the members below.


The last person to climb the tower must raise his or her hand and wave to the public. This is the highlight of the event because only then the stronghold will be recognized. However, for the stronghold up to 8-9 stories high, building a tower is one thing, when lowering it must also be very skillful to avoid an accident.


Besides the tradition of building unique human towers, at the La Merce festival, the audience also watched the people of Barcelona dressed up as demons and marched around the city. Throughout the festival, there will be the contest of building human towers, beautiful and unique fireworks performances, impromptu street dances of indigenous people or the culinary elite of Spain. This festival is rated by local authorities as one of the potential cultural events, attracting the participation of tourists from everywhere.

By: Jimmy Saunders

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