Spain Explained

The wild west in Almería

In some parts of Spain, especially during the dry summer months, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d found yourself in a desert. Tumbleweed, cacti and plenty of dry, sand-like earth can give it an appearance worthy of the Sahara. A view that some Hollywood film producers have agreed with.

So much so that parts of Almería have been used as a film set for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ and a host of other ‘spaghetti westerns’. It’s blessed (or cursed depending on how you look at it) with wide open spaces and was far enough away from centres such as Madrid to mean that it has been left relatively undisturbed. Except for the film crews.

The Tabernas Desert, also called ‘The Badlands’ is a natural park that is described as being Europe’s only true desert.  It’s allegedly only rained on for four days a year and temperatures can soar to 48 degrees in the shade. As the area is not conducive to farming it has made the most of its film-set heritage.

Some of them remain in the form of Fort Bravo, Oasys Theme Park and Western Leone. You can visit the sets, watch and take part in Wild West attractions, getting a real sense of the wild-west spirit and not too far from home. Oasys Theme Park includes a western village, zoo and a pool area. The Old Western Town was built under the instructions of Sergio Leone, director of ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’ and saw the arrival of a young Clint Eastwood.

Steven Spielberg brought Harrison Ford to Tabernas to film parts of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. As recently as March 2012, Doctor Who paid a visit to Almería to shoot a western-themed episode. No doubt drawn by the ready-made set and the Spanish weather.

It might not be a chosen destination for mid-day in July, but if you have time, it’s worthwhile visiting this extraordinary landmark.

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