La Mercè traditionally ends at the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, where a spectacular fireworks display is merged with a creatively edited soundtrack, or “Piromusical” as they say in Barcelona.

Here, overlooking the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. one jostles for position against the thousands and thousands of festival goers whilst listening to songs from The Beatles, John Lennon and many others.

But, not all is as it seems.

If you listen closely, you might think you are listening to an original of “Imagine”.  Moments later, you realise that the words are all in Spanish…

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Yes, “Towers”.  Human towers.  Towers built out of humans.  As preposterous as this sounds, it was simply amazing.  For a moment, cast aside your inhibitions, your taint for public or personal safety.  You are in Spain, the land of the fire run, and multiple sports involving deadly bulls.  And so, get amongst it.  If you see a falling child, catch her.  If you see a falling man, run away.  If you can.

In Spain, these bio-buildings are called “Castells” and what you are witnessing here is the final.  The best teams compete to see who is the best of the best in the heart of Barcelona during the final day of the festival.  And, whilst my definition of success in such things is “getting out alive”, I suspect that there are other factors involved.

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Whilst wandering the streets of Barcelona admiring the Gaudi’s and sampling tapas was valuable in every respect, the real action this weekend was the annual La Mercè festival.  Being an uneducated tourist, I had little real understanding of the history of the proceedings.  But, that’s what travel is really about. Besides, it wasn’t anything a little searching on the internet couldn’t fix.  My first experience of the festival was to be the “Fire Run”.

Certainly, putting these two words into a single sentence and calling it a tradition had peaked my curiosity.

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