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Unique Catalan human pyramids, giant puppets and fire-dragons in Ostrava

At the beginning of summer holidays, Ostrava will experience the true Catalan street festival - a hot and exciting fiesta. Catalan artists will perform here as part of the European History of Ostrava Street - in the sign of Barcelona, ​​which is part of the year-round celebrations of the 750th anniversary of the first written mention of Ostrava. The event will organically complement the Festival in the streets, which will take place in the city center and in the vicinity of the Silesian Ostrava Castle.

In celebration of the 750th anniversary of the first written mention of the city of Ostrava and the Festival in the streets to the North Moravian metropolis, together with ten different sets of more than 250 artists from Catalonia, Spain will present their unique culture: incredible human pyramids that can reach 10 to 15 meters, Giant puppets in historical costumes, traditional acrobatics, fire kites, dances, music, burning rum and other specialties, many of which are part of UNESCO's cultural heritage.

"The arrival of artists from Spain is the result of several months of negotiations with the Catalan organizations and the city of Barcelona. In addition to the events we organize throughout the year, we want to give our celebration a wider European context. The context that Ostrava deserves due to its importance. This event will again attract the whole of the Czech Republic to Ostrava and its celebrations, " says Deputy Mayor Zbyněk Pražák, adding: " The Catalan culture will also be accompanied by a reminder of the regional traditions that reflect the cultural and social history of Ostrava as well as our roots. Therefore, close collaboration with local files is also part of the action. "

The inhabitants and visitors of Ostrava will see the leading Catalan ensembles - Gegants de Torroella de Montgrí, Gegants Veguers de Montblanc and Geganto Pep Ventura , Federació de Diables de la Ciutat de Barcelona , Aiguabarreig and Cobla Volta Mon (musical orchestras) , Colla Xàldiga (dance group), Colla Castellera Vila de Gràcia (human pyramid), Àliga de Tàrrega and Drac de Figueres (animal masks) and Capgrossos de Capellades (giant head).

European history in the streets of Ostrava - in the sign of Barcelona will naturally complement the Festival in the streets , where this year, for example, will be played by Ondřej Havelka and his Melody Makers, Lenny, Xavier Baumax, The Weight from Austria, Flo from Italy, Kel Assouf from Belgium, Thom Artway, Emma Smetana, Malalata, and Prago Union .

What will the Catalan culture see Ostrava?

Ball de bastons (dance with sticks)
Ball de bastons has very old and unclear roots. According to one source, the dances with the long 'valachas', used by the shepherds, according to other war dances with swords, occurring in other countries. Today it is one of the most popular folk dances in Catalonia, where more than a hundred specialized ensembles dance in their original costume.

Festival bestiary

Catalonia is a country with a large number of animal festivals. Such animal bestiary contains all the possible zoomorphic forms created by a design or extension, for individuals or for a whole group of persons. Each character has its own technique, function and symbolism. The extensive and diverse offer of the Catalan festival bestiary could be divided into three groups: fiery, formal and animated. In the fiery group you would find the whole range of fire-spit kites. In a formal group, there are more noble and real animals, such as the eagle, the monster, the lion or the bull. And then there is a wide range of characters in the split animated group. Many Catalan towns and villages also have a baby bestiary, which often mimics adult figures, but so that they can carry children. The origins of these modern processions can be found in the processes of God's body and in medieval performances. The eagle and the dragon are characters that played a key role in God's bodies.


In Catalonia, we know about the existence of big-body characters - capgrossos - at religious events or celebrations since the 18th century. Their task was to prepare along with the giant figures the gegants a procession path. However, only in some villages they dance or have a designated lead role in the procession. It seems that many forms of popular Catalan culture and the possibilities of character interpretation are dominated by those in which capgrossos complement each other's festivities and help themselves - unlike the majesty of the gegants.

Castells (Human Towers)

The human towers have their origins in medieval dances culminating in the creation of human bodies. Their current appearance surfaced 200 years ago in Valls, and since then has not undergone any change. The height, fragility, and beauty of such an assemblage of human bodies make this manifestation of culture something unique. It is said that power, courage, balance, and sharp judgment are needed to create a human tower. It is precisely these properties that we have to express the position of our Catalan identity. The human towers have recently reached their historically highest height, with the participation of a large number of colles (groups) reaching ten 'floors'. In 2010, UNESCO enumerated human towers on the list of "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humankind".


Cobla is the expression of the traditional Catalan orchestra accompanying the national circular dance of the sardine. In the mid-19th century, the musician and composer Pep Ventura sought to popularize traditional musical compositions by reforming the canvas. It has included new instruments - trumpets, trombons, double bass - but the characteristic sound is still supplied by bagpipes, flutes and the necessary shawm, or the Catalan version of the Shalma. Cobla accompanies not only dancing, but the orchestra can work independently.

Dracs (dragons)

Mythical dragons appear in all mythologies and legends. They have bloodshots, scales like reptiles, and bats of wings. Shared fears of the unknown and the unconscious. The dragon was part of the medieval processions of the feast of God's body when he was protected from evil. Gradually, its physical attractiveness became more prevalent over religious significance, until it became almost exclusively the symbol of the fiesta. The reason why his popularity goes so far beyond other elements of folk mythology may be explained by the legend of the dragon killed by St George (Patriarch of Catalonia), Jordi (George).

Diables (devils)

Devils have their origins in ancient religious presentations of the struggle between good and evil. They were part of the procession of the feast of God's body. The first documented event where the character of the devil appears is the royal wedding in the 16th century. In some cities, diables are associated with fire and recite satirical verses criticizing authorities and commenting on current political events. The return of democracy meant rebuilding public appearances in the streets. Diables have become a regular part of festival performances throughout Catalonia. In the night, the fire belongs inseparably to the devils, which is perceived as a fantastic component that gives them something supernatural and yet very actionable.


Esbarts are amateur groups that practice traditional Catalan dances. They began to originate in the early 20th century to preserve the rich musical tradition. Since then, they have managed to keep the Catalan dance heritage not only to preserve, but to further develop. With its beautiful performances, Esbarts is an integral part of our cultural tradition.

Gegants (giants)

The presence of gegants on Catalan festivals can be traced back to the 14th century and continues to this day. Originally, like in the rest of Europe, gegants were part of the procession of the feast of God's body and evoked biblical figures. Gradually, however, they lost their religious significance and became an essential part of worldly celebrations. Today, the gegants are not just masked figures on the street, but they are performing more and more sophisticated choreographies. They embody the historical and legendary local characters and become so eloquent symbols of local identity. When you see gegants in the street, it means the fiesta is just beginning.


Gralla is a traditional wind instrument with perceptive sound. In the last twenty years he has gained a lot of popularity. Groups of so-called "grallers", usually by two or three players, are accompanied by a drummer. Grallers are an essential part of building a human tower.


The origin is to be found in the Creole contradanza - the ancient Cuban dance, which was very popular in the Havana salons. He came to Catalonia with soldiers, merchants and sailors. In the early days, the havaneres groups usually had three voices, which accompanied the bars in the bars only by tapping the rhythm on the tables. Later, as the groups evolved, they also had their guitar and accordion accompaniment in addition to 3-4 votes.

Traditional music

In Catalonia, traditional traditional music is not played by local instruments as an occasional event. It is part of a constantly growing movement. The rediscovery and new rendering of old melodies is the work of many groups that bring their art to the streets as part of folklore festivals or dance or concert performances. This has saved many of the old instruments and compositions that have until recently been forgotten. A common game of old and modern instruments creates, in addition, a unique Catalan theme. These groups have been able to change traditional music from the subject of study into a living organism.


Sardana is a bicycle dance that has become a national dance of Catalonia. It evolved from an ancient dance known as sardana curta. In the middle of the 19th century, the musician Pep Ventura and the dancer Miquel Pardas brought him some changes that remained in him until today. At the same time, when there was a change in Sardan's dance, the now-known cobble orchestras also emerged. From the area of ​​Girona, Sardinia spread throughout Catalonia. Today he is dancing many groups in the streets and squares not only throughout Catalonia but also in the south of France. Sardana invites everyone to dance and dance.

Burning rum

The tradition that began in the 19th century, when many Catalans flew to Cuba to make money there. The basic ingredients are rum, coffee beans, sugar, lemon peel, spices and, above all, cinnamon. Everything burns for about 10 minutes in clay pots to burn some of the alcohol, and the beverage is still hot. Once, the sailors drank it in the morning to heat up. Drinking the burnt-out rum and listening to habanero music is a popular activity during the so-called Festa Major (the patron saint of the city) in the Costa Brava. Nowadays it has spread to offshore towns.

Source: tz

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