By Dee McMath & Fiona Flores Watson
With its hugely varied landscapes and scenery, from arid deserts to spectacular mountains, Moorish towns and cities to pristine beaches, Andalucia is a film-makers’ dream.
Little wonder, then, that scores of movies have been shot here over the years, from spaghetti westerns in the Wild West town sets of Almeria, to historic epics in the glorious mudejar palaces of Seville. The process of filming is made smoother by dedicated local film offices in cities and towns, as well as the regional Andalucia Film Commission, which helps with scouting locations and securing permits.
An added new incentive for current and future shoots is the 20% tax rebate for international productions filming in Spain.
Almeria - Where it all began
It all started almost half a century ago in Almeria. Way back in 1961 the world of the western took off in Almeria, with the filming of The Savage Guns, directed by Michael Carreras, Almeria proving a perfect match for the deserts of Arizona.
Due to the fabulous locations long days and incredible light, Almeria was the choice for filming many big budget films, - most famously perhaps for Lawrence of Arabia depicting the Sahara desert, Cleopatra in Egypt. As well as this type of major production, there have been endless films of spaghetti westerns genre made in Almeria.
The area has been transformed into settings for gruesome epic battles of war, in depth biblical sagas, African territory movies and much more. In its heyday, Almeria was dubbed the "Spanish Hollywood". Big stars have spent time in there, including Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian, while Spielberg spent time there setting some of his Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the nearby natural park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar.
Almeria is also more recently being somewhat reclaimed by the Spanish Film Industry and many new films have been shot there, including, "Extasis", "Poniente", "800 balas" and "El Pájaro de la Felicidad". Still many American and worldwide productions are made in the fantastic province of Almeria - unbeatable for the infinite location possibilities and for the exceptional light so appreciated by filmmakers.
Almeria City and Almeria province both have their Ruta del Cine for tourists to look out for. In Almeria city notice boards alert tourists to the location that was used in films. A photo on the board shows an excert from the film and the viewer can compare the then and now. The Casa del Cine is a museum in Cortijo Romero just outside the old city centre where John Lennon stayed for a few weeks when shooting.
A number of scenes for series six of Game of Thrones were filmed at the Alcazaba, Tabernas, Mesa Roldan, Muralla de Jairán, and the Cautivo de Tabernasin Almeria in October 2015, as well as for series seven. Read here on the blog.
Read the full list of locations in Spain filmed in Game of Thrones here.
Malaga and the Costa del Sol - The New Spanish Hollywood?
While Almeria led the way as the Spanish Hollywood - producers and film makers soon also saw the endless benefits of filming in other parts of Andalucia. During the 1980s the very successful BBC TV comedy series, Auf Wiedersehen Pet based a whole series of the Costa del Sol. After this, in the early 1990's the shooting of the UK sun-soaked soap of El Dorado involved the building of an entire fictional village outside Coin just a few kilometres back from the buzzing Costa del Sol. In April 2005 the historic Alcazaba in Malaga was used in the filming of the popular ITV 1 series, Rosemary & Thyme starring Felicity Kendall and Pam Ferris. Other major TV series, such as Shed Productions' Bad Girls and Footballers Wives have taken full advantage of the excellent facilities and locations on the coast to enhance the already soaring viewing figures for their addictive drama soaps.
Antonio Banderas, who is extremely proud of his home town of Malaga, produced El Camino de los Ingleses (The Way of the English). For the purposes of the film, parts of the historic centre of Malaga was depicted as it was for youths living there during the 1970s. Banderas also filmed Malaga en Llamas (Malaga in Flames).in his beloved Andalusian homeland
The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) has filmed in the beach clubs and other locations in Marbella every summer since 2012. This was followed up by Life on Marbs first series in October 2014 and released on ITV in Summer 2015 to mixed reviews but appears to be a popular critical watch.
Seville as well
ln October 2014 HBO filmed part of the fifth and seventh series of Game of Thrones in Alcazar of Seville, and Bullring of Osuna to much interest and excitement in local media. A scene from series serven was also filmed in the Roman ruined city of Italica located just ourside Sevilla.
Read the full list of locations in Spain filmed in Game of Thrones here.
Filming Location LIST
Here is a list of international film locations around Andalucia, with the actual buildings, streets and squares used where possible, and the films which were made there. It is not exhaustive, as hundreds of films have been shot here, but these are the most celebrated international movies which were filmed across the region.
Almeria City: Patton, Exodus: Gods and Kings, A Fistfull of dynamite, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wind and the Lion, That Man George, Never Say Never Again, Lost Command, Catlow, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Passenger. (Plotted on google maps)
Tabernas desert: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, Once Upon a Time in the West, King of Kings, How I Won the War, Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Conan the Barbarian, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Empire of the Sun.
Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata: Travels with My Aunt, The Wind and the Lion
Playa de los Genoveses (San Jose): Lawrence of Arabia, The Wind and Lion
Playa de Algarrobico (Carboneras): Lawrence of Arabia
Playa de Monsul: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Agua Amarga: Sexy Beast, Labyrinth of Passion
Carboneras: How I Won the War, Treasure Island, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Garrucha, Puerto del Rey: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Mojácar: Baron Munchausen, Treasure Island (and the birthplace of Walt Disney!)
Pechina: Exodus: Gods and Kings
Vera: The Passenger
Los Esculleros: Never Say Never Again.
Cadiz city: Knight and Day, Die Another Day
Algeciras: The Running Man
Trebujena: Empire of the Sun
Granada city: Dr Zhivago, Time Bandits, The Reckoning, South From Granada, Royal Hunt of the Sun, Wilde
Sierra Nevada: Conan the Barbarian
Guadix: Dr Zhivago, Once Upon a Time in the West, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
La Calahorra: The Wind and the Lion
Former prison: The Wind and the Lion. Battle of Britain, Royal Hunt of the Sun, La Corazon de la Tierra (The Heart of the Earth)
Aracena Caves: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Nerja: A Fond Kiss, Fathom
EL Chorro: Von Ryan's Express
Plaza de España: Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, The Dictator
Alfonso XIII Hotel: Lawrence of Arabia, Knight and Day
Casino de la Exposicion: Lawrence of Arabia
Plaza de America: Lawrence of Arabia, The Wind and the Lion
Casa de Pilatos: Lawrence of Arabia, 1492 The Conquest of Paradise, Kingdom of Heaven, Knight and Day
Alcazar: Kingdom of Heaven, 1492 The Conquest of Paradise, Game of Thrones (Series 6 and 6)
University (former Tobacco Factory), Patio de Banderas, Barrio Santa Cruz: Carmen
Cathedral, Real Maestranza (bullring), Santa Justa train station: Knight and Day
Airport: Battle of Britain
Santaponce (Italica): Game of Thrones (Series 7)
Osuna: Callas Forever
Osuna Bullring: Game of Thrones (series 5)
Carmona Bullring: Manolete
Almodovar del Rio Castle: Game of Thrones (Series 7)