Andalusia, a land of cinema

Andalusia is a land that has inspired many thanks not only to its history, landscapes, monuments, cuisine, culture, and traditions, but also its people and their character.

The province inspires us to travel, to get to know the land first hand, and to explore places and moments that will remain engraved in our memories forever. Andalusia also inspires us to create art as demonstrated by the hundreds of films and series for which directors and producers have chosen Andalusia to tell stories that will forever be etched into the annals of cinema and television.

For lovers of the seventh art, visiting Andalusia is a dream come true. There is no doubt that Andalusia is a leading film destination.

Andalusia: unforgettable films and series

Andalusia is one of the main partners of the Spain Film Commission, a distinction it has earned on its very own.

There’s a reason why scenes from films such as Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 1989), The Dollars Trilogy (Sergio Leone, 1964, 1965, and 1966), and La isla mínima (Alberto Rodríguez Librero, 2014) were filmed in this region. 

Of course, we can’t forget legendary series such as Verano azul (Antonio Mercero, 1981), La peste (Alberto Rodríguez Librero, 2018-2019), or the world-famous HBO series Game of Thrones, which chose filming sites such as the citadel of Almería, the ruins of Itálica (Santiponce, Seville), and the Roman bridge of Córdoba to stage one of the most powerful fantasy series of the past decade.

Scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed in the ruins of Italica / David Escribano

Film routes in Andalusia

Cinema and television lovers can find so many film routes in Andalusia that it must be difficult to choose just one. The solution is simple: come back to visit this gorgeous region as many times as necessary in order to discover all these routes in all their glory with the passion they deserve.

For example, visitors can walk through the streets of Carboneras and Higuera de la Sierra, where scenes from the film La trinchera infinita (2019) were filmed.

Fans of Sergio Leone will get goosebumps when they find themselves in front of the Cortijo del Fraile in Cabo de Gata (Almeria), the start of Death had a price and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In this film, the site is the setting for the monastery full of wounded soldiers from the American Civil War where Clint Eastwood recovers.

Cortijo del Fraile, the setting of many memorable westerns / David Escribano

You can also follow in the footsteps of the brave Captain Alatriste – the literary character created by Arturo Pérez Reverte, who later ended up being portrayed on the big screen by the great Viggo Mortensen – by strolling through the streets of Baeza and Úbeda (Jaén), Tarifa (Cádiz), and Seville.

Another essential route takes visitors across nearly all of Andalusia to discover the places where Oscar-winning movies were filmed. Did you know, for example, that the Sierra Nevada was used as the backdrop for certain scenes in Doctor Zhivago (David Lean, 1965)?

Carmona, city of towers and cinema

One of these routes mentioned us to the beautiful town of Carmona. With its whitewashed houses, tall church towers, and centuries-old walls, directors have chosen this town to film scenes from famous films and TV series. 

For example, the Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro has borne witness to stories such as La peste and Carmen (with Paz Vega); the convent of Santa Clara appears in Nadie conoce a nadie (Mateo Gil, 1999); and the mythical Puerta de Sevilla, next to which stands the formidable Alcazar, a fortress whose roots date back to the 8th century BCE, has appeared in La otra mirada as well as in the film Manolete (Menno Meyjes, 2012). More recently, it has played host to the unique setting of The Invisible Girl, as we mention here.

Filming of The Invisible Girl with Carmona in the background / Julio Vergne / Disney+

Continuamos nuestro recorrido por las calles que han sido escenario de rodajes, pasando por el centenario Cine Catalunya, inyectando una buena dosis de nostalgia a los auténticos cinéfilos. Nuestra visita concluye en lo que ahora es la tienda de decoración Autumn, ubicada en una antigua fábrica de principios del siglo XX que bien podría ser la Birmingham de los “Peaky Blinders”.

Seville, the crown jewel

Naturally, the spectacular city of Seville has been featured prominently on screen.

Spanish TV productions such as  La otra mirada and La peste have filmed in various locations, including the palace of the Marquises of La Motilla, the Triana bridge, the famous Betis Street, the Santa Cruz neighbourhood, the Giralda, and the Real Alcazar, where scenes from Game of Thrones were also filmed.

Another international hit series, The Crown, sent its team at the Hotel Alfonso XIII to simulate a Californian villa. Seville is one of those unique cities in the world that can be whatever it wants to be.

In terms of films, the Plaza de España takes top honours, having served as the setting for films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (George Lucas, 2002), and The Dictator, filmed in 2012 by the irreverent Sacha Baron Cohen.

Malaga, the legacy of Banderas

The aromas of the sea, sardine skewers, festivals, joy… and cinema waft through the city of Malaga!

Once again, the iconic series that narrates the life of the British royal family, The Crown, takes centre stage here, with its action set in places such as the Malaga Auditorium and the Botanical Gardens.

El camino de los ingleses (Antonio Banderas, 2006) was filmed in places such as the Paseo del Parque, La Merced, and Gibralfaro. We would expect nothing les from the Malaga native.

Meanwhile, Toro (Kike Maíllo, 2016) meant that Luis Tosar and Mario Casas were spotted on the Malagueta beach.

The Costa del Sol and other places around the province of Malaga

The series Verano azul made us experience unforgettable moments that have gone down in the history of television. The group of boys and girls, accompanied by Chanquete and Julia, touched the hearts of an entire generation.

We can recall the funniest and most emotional moments of Antonio Mercero’s series by visiting sites such as the coastal town of Nerja, which still preserves a replica of “La dorada,” Chanquete’s legendary boat.

The replica of “La Dorada” in Nerja (Málaga) continues to be a point of attraction for fans / Agatha Selgas

Antequera, with its more than thirty imposing mediaeval churches, prehistoric dolmens, and the magnificent Torcal, is another must-see destination in the province of Malaga. Scenes from the film The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Mary McGuckian, 2004) were filmed in the city’s bullring, featuring acclaimed actors such as Robert De Niro, Geraldine Chaplin, Gabriel Byrne, Kathy Bates, and Pilar López de Ayala.

In addition, the Spanish series Rabia has used settings in Coín and Marbella to tell its thrilling tale.

Stories to remember

Although the definitive stories told by films and series are the ones that stick in our memories and our hearts, every film shoot hides a good number of stories that, for the most part, go unnoticed by the general public.

This is the case, for example, of Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). The great Ridley Scott chose several locations in the province of Almería to bring his film to life. 

What Ridley Scott didn’t know was that the Prince and Princess of Asturias – now King Felipe and Queen Letizia – would make a surprise visit to the film set as part of a private trip. He also didn’t know that the people of the town of Macael, famous for its high-quality marble, would give him a mortar and pestle, or that a sudden downpour of rain would leave 32 people and 7 vehicles trapped after a day of filming in the Llano del Búho in Tabernas. Fortunately, they were all rescued by the fire department and the Guardia Civil.

Lawrence of Arabia made Tabernas famous, but it also brought an oasis to the “El Cautivo” Rambla. The palm trees and other trees used to build it came from Alicante. The result was so successful that the oasis was left standing after filming was finished. The site still exists today and has been used by several production companies for filming outdoor scenes.

As to celebrities, the actors Omar Sharif and Peter O’Toole were famous for going on late-night revelries while filming. Another actor who had a great time was Aaron Paul (Exodus: Gods and Kings), who was at the height of his popularity at the time thanks to the series Breaking Bad. He was known for strolling around Almería and being genuinely kind to people. To this day, he still remembers this as one of the most pleasant experiences of his career.

Andalusia is a land of cinema that leaves its mark on everyone who visits it.

By David Escribano Muñoz (Travel Inspirer)

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