Castile and León for TV fans: discovering legendary settings

At the fascinating crossroads of history and modernity, the captivating settings of Castile and León have welcomed the cameras of countless television series. This autonomous community has been the ideal backdrop for stories that have moved us. These gorgeous productions have highlighted the many attractions on offer and encouraged viewers to come discover these fantastic locations first hand. From cobbled alleys where ancient secrets are whispered to majestic castles that stand as guardians of time and magnificent landscapes, Castile and León is a clear destination for TV fans. Fully aware of this, the Castile and León Film Commission has created an exciting route of memorable locations province by province. 

Valladolid: the land of castles

The province with the most visitable castles not only in Castile and León but across all of Spain has been portrayed on screen many times, both in films and in series. Some of them, such as La Mota (Medina del Campo) appeared in the series Isabel broadcast by Televisión Española, which narrated the life of Queen Isabella I of Spain. 

The imposing castle of La Mota in Medina del Campo (Valladolid) / Sele

Years later, a famous Japanese series was broadcast on a well-known platform that reached the entire world: Magi: the embassy of the young Tensho, which narrates the adventures of an Italian missionary who travels to 16th century Japan seeking to recruit altar boys to take them to Rome and have an audience with the Pope. The series showcases Valladolid’s City Hall, Palace of Santa Cruz, Patio Herreriano, and Convent of Santa Isabel, although several scenes were filmed in other locations in the province such as Tiedra, with a beautiful castle overlooking the countryside from a hill, and Urueña, one of the region’s most charming towns which has been declared Spain’s only book town (with the highest density of bookshops per inhabitant in Europe).

Memento mori is the latest production shot in Valladolid / Amazon Studios

Memento mori is the latest production, where the first episode of the new trilogy Versos, canciones y trocitos de carne written by César Pérez Gellida has been transferred from paper to screen. This fast-paced crime thriller took a few weeks to shoot in Pucela. It features the Plaza Mayor, the Viejo Coso, the iconic Paseo de Zorrilla, the Avenida Reyes Católicos, and the banks of the river Pisuerga, while the old El Salvador school building even serves as a police station.

Segovia: classic setting for historical productions

The city of Segovia has been the setting for series such as Isabel, where the splendour of the Alcázar is shown in almost every episode. Historically, it served as the residence of many Castilian monarchs, including, of course, the Catholic Monarchs. 

However, if we had to name a place that would really stand out to TV fans, it is the medieval village of Pedraza. Águila roja, Tierra de lobos, Isabel, and even Toledo, cruce de destinos used this beautiful village as a film set. We should also highlight Álex de la Iglesia’s 30 monedas, filmed almost entirely in the village in which viewers can marvel at the many attractions of one of the most visited destinations in the province. In fact, the second season of this gruesome fiction series directed by the Bilbao native is currently being filmed, so we will once again be able see Pedraza in all its glory.

The streets of Pedraza are a versatile backdrop for all types of productions / Sele

The region has also been showcased in the series La promesa on Televisión Española, presenting the Luján family in the gardens of the Real Sitio de San Ildefonso. 

Finally, we should not forget our most internationally acclaimed series, Money Heist, which introduced the world to the wonders of the Hoces del Duratón and the hermitage of San Frutos, the place where the main characters came up with the plan to rob the Bank of Spain, the central plot to the entire series.

Avila: Spain’s most picturesque city walls

In Ávila we naturally return to Queen Isabella as she was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres and raised in Arévalo, so it is not surprising that these sites have formed part of certain episodes in the series dedicated to the queen. The same is true for the castle of Mombeltrán, built by Beltrán de la Cueva, first Duke of Alburquerque. Its design is attributed to the architect Juan Guas, and it is reminiscent of other popular Spanish castles such as those of Manzanares el Real and Belmonte. Ávila is also the backdrop of the iconic scene of the Treaty of the Bulls of Guisando, named after the verracos sculptures created by the Vettones. In the scene, Henry IV recognises his sister Isabella as the legitimate heir ahead of his first-born daughter Juana, nicknamed “La Beltraneja.” This set of sculptures, which date back to more than two thousand years ago, is still one of the province’s greatest tourist attractions.

The walls of Ávila, the setting for numerous productions / Ávila Film Office

If we head to the capital, the city of walls has undoubtedly starred in many Spanish and international productions. Perhaps one of the most representative series to have captured Ávila was Teresa de Jesús (1985), starring the excellent Concha Velasco. The series kept more than half of Spain glued to their television sets, showing the wonders of this mediaeval enclave that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

One of the latest international productions filmed in the province of Ávila was the miniseries The English (2022), starring British actress Emily Blunt. Ávila’s countryside was used to recreate the American West in this new western.

Burgos: mediaeval grandeur

Talking about Burgos means talking about “El Cid.” We don’t need to go back to Charlton Heston, we can talk about him today, with Jaime Lorente at the head of a first class cast of a great series. The mediaeval town of Frías, with a castle at the top, as well as Monte Santiago both had a role in this production, not to mention the Solar del Cid, the Arch of Santa María, the Government of Burgos, the bridge of San Pablo, Santa Gadea, the Plaza del Mío Cid and, of course, the cathedral, one of the city’s most indisputable icons.

The Arch of Santa María is the entrance to mediaeval Burgos / Burgos Film Commission

Leon: its landscapes will be featured in the upcoming “Berlin”

There is no doubt that both the capital city and the province of León have everything to make a complete film set, with a variety of landscapes in the mountains and on the plains, charming villages, and a captivating city where directors can film nearly anything. 

One of the most eagerly awaited upcoming series is Berlin, the prequel to Money Heist. Many episodes in this blockbuster, based on one of the series’ most exciting characters, were filmed in Riaño, in the heart of the Montes de León. The area is undoubtedly one of the most impressive locations in the province, with its reservoir and mountainous territory where the Iberian wolf still howls and the brown bear can often be seen in a first-class outdoor destination.

The area of Riaño (León) will be the setting for Berlin / Sele

Another popular city available in multiple countries worldwide that has been filmed in several sites in León is 3 Caminos, starring Álex González and Verónica Echegui, among others. The series follows five friends of different nationalities who are united by the Camino de Santiago, the real star of the show, The show juggles stories about drama, friendship, and personal exploration, masterfully weaving a plot that transcends geographical and cultural borders.

Soria: from “El pueblo” to “El Cid”

Soria has clearly become a premier TV series destination, especially with the success of the series El pueblo directed by the Caballero brothers, who are also responsible for La que se avecina. The comedic plot features outsiders who wind up in a tiny village in the Highlands of Soria along with their emotional baggage and who must coexist with the few remaining people in the town, as well as the particularities of representing what is known as “empty Spain.” Its entirely realistic settings take place, among other locations, in Valdelavilla, Soria. The show creates an authentic and appropriate environment to suit the different conflicts and punchlines of this amusing story. The rustic beauty and the characteristic atmosphere of the Highlands of Soria have contributed to give life to the essence of “El pueblo.” Valdelavilla, with its charm and unique landscape, adds extra value to the series and provides a unique experience for viewers who, unsurprisingly, have come to visit the locations of “El pueblo” and enjoy an extraordinary and tremendously authentic rural environment.

Calle Cuesta, in Valdelavilla, the setting for El pueblo / Fundación Valdelavilla

However, Soria is not a newcomer in terms of series. Since the days when Curro Jiménez rode over the Cañón del Río Lobos, many others have passed through the province. One of the latest examples was El Cid, starring Jaime Lorente, which was released by a well-known platform in 2021. The production chose a broad yet true-to-life selection of locations in Soria. The series features highly recognisable places such as the castle of Almenar, the town of Almazán (the church of San Miguel and the Puerta del Mercado), Calatañazor with its characteristic mediaeval old town, and, of course, the Canyon of the Río Lobos.

Salamanca: a place for classics and action movies

Sources at the Salamanca Film Commission proudly claim that more than one thousand films have been shot in the town over the last 19 years. During this time, the Salamanca Film Commission has been in charge of managing filming permits and allowing production crews with an interest in Salamanca to film there. These crews have filmed not only in the city, which is home to a remarkable variety of historical structures and thus represents an ideal environment for shooting films and series set in ancient times, but also throughout the entire province. Salamanca boasts a vast array of natural settings, including the river Tormes, the Aldeadávila dam, and the Batuecas Natural Park, all of which provide an ideal backdrop for outdoor filming.

In 2022, the musical series Once Upon a Time… Happily Never After premiered in Spain and Latin America, with singer Sebastián Yatra in his first acting role. The streets of La Alberca, one of the most beautiful towns in the province of Salamanca, played an essential role in the filming of this story in which the Middle Ages comedically meet modernity.

The streets of La Alberca still have a traditional flavour / Agatha Selgas

Still Star-Crossed, an American series inspired by Romeo and Juliet, turns the old town of Salamanca into 16th century Verona. Meanwhile, the Japanese miniseries Magi: The Embassy of the Young Tensho also made use of certain locations in this famous university city.

Zamora: Lina Morgan and Benavente

The 1990s featured a lot of famous weddings, but perhaps the best known in Spain was in fiction. Lina Morgan and José Coronado were wed in the Antena3 series Compuesta y sin novio, a comedy filmed in town of Benavente in Zamora, with the town taking on a central role in the plot. 

Zamora is undoubtedly an excellent backdrop for films and series, with its splendid Romanesque architecture and western-like landscapes of Tierra de Campos or the Arribes del Duero mountain range that separates Spain from Portugal. We can safely say that the province has even more great places to offer for filming.

Palencia: the Romanesque region

Palencia is a fabulous destination for period productions. One of the latest is Conquistadores: Adventum, with eight chapters narrating the first thirty years of the discovery of America. Directed by Israel del Santo and featuring Aitana Sánchez Gijón at the head of a great cast, the series showcases the province of Palencia. Specifically, it highlights the church of San Martín de Tours in Frómista, considered one of the archetypal examples of Romanesque architecture on the entire European continent. 

Without a doubt, Palencia and Romanesque architecture are united in a constant idyll. 

All of Castile and León is a romantic destination for screen tourism, where people are attracted by the opportunity to experience the places they have seen in the cinema or on television in real life.

By José Miguel Redondo (Sele). Travel Inspirer

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