If you love movies as much as we do, you might already know that Spain was one of the biggest and most favored film stages between the 1950s and the 1960s. Its stunning landscapes, varied environments, and sunny weather made the gate of the Mediterranean a true paradise for directors and producers who came all the way from Hollywood to find the perfect locations to shoot big-budget, historical epics such as Cleopatra, El Cid, or Alexander The Great among many other timeless classics imbued with Spaniard flavor.

But, did you know that some of the most successful blockbusters and well-known franchises were also shot in Spain? From distant planets to exotic deserts, you’ll find no shortage of iconic movie locations when visiting the Iberian Peninsula. Ready for an exciting film trip throughout some of the coolest destinations in Spain for moviegoers? ¡Vamos allá!

Plaza de España, Seville

Let’s start our cinematic trip by heading to a galaxy far, far away…or if you will, to the Southern region of Andalucía! Because it was in eternal Seville where none other than George Lucas decided to shot a few scenes of Episode II: Attack of The Clones, the second installment of its Trilogy of Prequels. On September 13th 2000, the majestic Plaza de España was transformed into a transportation hub of the planet Naboo, where the Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) greets his Jedi bodyguard/lover-to-be/future Dark Lord of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), who has just arrived to fulfill an important mission. A small scene where we can admire the magnificence of this location, digitally enhanced for an even more dramatic effect.

In fact, American moviemakers have been in love with this touristic landmark for many decades, and we find good proof of that with Steven Spielberg’s favorite film. Both a 60’s classic and a blockbuster on its own (it earned 70 million USD at the box office), Lawrence of Arabia is still considered one of the most influential and celebrated movies of all time. The epic story of British colonel and adventurer T.E. Lawrence won 7 Oscars (including its protagonist, Peter O’Toole) and became a resounding success worldwide. Although the cast and crew was supposed to film in Jordan, director David Lean decided to move the production to Spain among other places due to unforeseen complications and budgetary concerns. Again, the iconic Plaza de España was chosen for a little bit of movie magic, this time serving as the British Expeditionary Force Headquarters in Cairo. The Southern city’s Moorish architecture allowed the moviemakers to recreate Damascus and Jerusalem, too.

Enchanted City, Cuenca

Conan’s roots with Spain are as deep as unexpected. For starters, the savage warrior’s child incarnation at the beginning of the Conan The Barbarian movie was portrayed by a young Spaniard actor named Jorge Sanz. But there’s more: as it turns out, this Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic was entirely filmed in Spain (instead of Yugoslavia, which was the original plan until some political issues arose). Thus, locations like the windmill setting where Conan was raised or the Cimmerian village were filmed near the cities of Ávila and Segovia. But the most famous location, the one that keeps attracting fans of the movie, is the imponent Ciudad Encantada de Cuenca (that is, The Enchanted City of Cuenca). Located 2 hours east of Madrid, amidst a pine forest at the Sierra de Cuenca and close to the village of Valdecabras, this geological park is home to amazingly whimsical rock formations from Cretaceous times that are prominently highlighted during film (for example, when Conan seeks the witch’s lair). If you’re visiting take in mind that this magical setting is located on private property, so you’ll have to pay a 5€ entrance fee to enjoy it.

Monsul Beach, Almería

If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones! That’s something audiences knew too well by the end of the 80s, when Steven Spielberg did it again by wowing the entire world with the last (or that’s what we thought) adventure of the most charismatic and resourceful archaeologist/adventurer of the big screen: Henry Jones Jr., aka Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade took Indy and his pops (Sean Connery) on an exciting odyssey against the evil forces of Hitler. Of course, Spain featured some of the most remembered locations of the film. And again, we have to thank the region of Andalucía for it.

Although there are many iconic scenes that take place in Southern Spain, few are more remembered than the one that was filmed at the Cabo de Gata Natural Park, more specifically on Monsul Beach. It is here, just a few miles east of Almería, where Sean Connery took down a Nazi aircraft by sending a flock of seagulls right into its turbines. As he brilliantly put it, “let my armies be the rocks, and the trees, and the birds in the sky.” Not too far from there, just a 2-hour drive from right into the Granada province, you’ll find Guadix, a quaint village that forever changed when Spielberg’s armies transformed its unappealing train station into the chaotic transportation hub and market of Iskenderun, the Turkish town where Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), Sallah (Jonathan Rhys-Davies), and a few Gestapo agents shine in one of the movie’s most hilarious scenes.

You may also like: Jock, Start The Engine! 4 Places Indiana Jones Fans Will Love to Visit

Tabernas Desert, Almería

Get your camera ready, because we’re about to visit one of America’s favorite movie sets in Europe: the legendary Tabernas Desert, next to the Andalucían town of Almería. Taking a good look at this arid, dry, and impressive environment, it’s no wonder that it had been portrayed countless times on the big screen. We just need to take a look back, since not only the scenes set at the Arabian Desert in Lawrence of Arabia were filmed here, but also the unforgettable chase between Indy and a relentless Nazi tank seen in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. However, if the Tabernas Desert has managed to survive in the minds of cinephiles throughout the world as a true pop culture mainstay, is thanks to the spaghetti westerns filmed in these desolate parts.

Ok, fair enough: Considering spaghetti western flicks as blockbusters is a bold statement definitely open to debate. But let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love Sergio Leone’s solemn masterpieces? Who doesn’t feel goosebumps with Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks? Yes, the three movies colloquially known as “The Dollars Trilogy” might’ve started as low-budget cult classics, but it’s undeniable that they are insanely popular– and they made tons of money at the box office, too!– thanks to its catchy tunes, unforgettable acting, and, yes, cool locations. Of course, Tabernas was key providing the proper Wild West atmosphere to the dangerous errands of the badass Man With No Name portrayed by Clint Eastwood. Although the first movie, For a Fistful of Dollars, was filmed in areas surrounding the nation’s capital of Madrid (such as Hoyo de Manzanares, Aldea del Fresno, and the park of Casa de Campo), Leone fell in love with the Tabernas Desert just in time to film the sequel (aptly named For a Few Dollars More). The place became so popular that a whole Wild West town was built from scratch to serve as a fabulous movie stage named Poblado del Fraile (also known as Mini Hollywood)!

Apart from Tabernas, he also used an infamous building (El Cortijo del Fraile, where a horrendous crime shocked Spain in 1928) at the aforementioned Cabo de Gata Natural Park to recreate the hideout of the villain El Indio. Miles away from Andalucía, he kept filming at municipalities close to Madrid, like Colmenar and, once again, Hoyo de Manzanares (where a similar movie town, Golden City, was set up).

Arlanza, Burgos

But Leone wasn’t done with Spain just yet.  The last and most famous installment of his revered trilogy (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) was filmed in the province of Burgos around the valley of the Arlanza river, making the most out of the spectacular scenery surrounding the San Pedro de Arlanza Monastery, the towns of Carazo and Majada de las Merinas, and a popular location between the villages of Contreras and San Domingo de Silos where fans keep flocking to see with their own eyes the exact location where the iconic Sad Hill Cemetery was recreated.

And these are just a few examples. The Kingdom of Heaven, Dr. Zhivago, The Bourne Ultimatum, Tomorrowland, Empire of The Sun, Die Another Day…Spain has always been a favorite when it comes to great places to go on vacation, but if you also love to enjoy movies in situ, then you have no excuse to browse cheap international flights to Europe and see it by yourself!

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About The Author

Content Writer

Born in Barcelona. Raised in Madrid. New Yorker at heart. When he is not geeking out at a comic book convention or binge-watching superhero shows, this bilingual journalist loves to discover secret venues and hidden places around the world to fill his insatiable wanderlust. He also digs into ghost-busting, Bigfoot-hunting, and UFO-sighting. The truth is out there.