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Spanish Secrets, Part 4

Part Four of beautiful and lesser known places in Spain does not offer a cooling dip like the last article in the series, but the opposite.

Oasys Mini Hollywood Photo: Joanjo Aguara Matoses

Oasys Mini Hollywood
Photo: Joanjo Aguara Matoses

Tabernas Desert “Desierto de Tabernas” is located in Spain’s southeastern corner, about 25 km north of Almeria. It is Europe’s only semi-desert (true deserts don’t exist in Europe) with an annual rainfall of less than 200 mm. The temperature in winter can go down to -5 degrees while in summer it approaches 50 degrees. The area covers 280 square kilometers and is protected as a nature park, a very dry such.

Previous articles
Spanish Secrets part 3
Spanish Secrets part 2
Spanish Secrets part 1

The landscape is barren, varied and dramatic with gorges and mountain peaks. The countryside is very similar to the wilderness between the US and Mexico, which made directors aware of the possibilities for shooting films here. A large amount of films have been recorded here, the first back in 1957. It was the French film “An eye for an eye (Oeil pour oeil)” by André Cayatte which marked the start of a long series of films, mostly western films. Until the 1980s, more than 300 films were recorded here. There are still movies and television productions here, but in a somewhat more modest scale.

The best known director who has been working here is undoubtedly Sergio Leone with Clint Estwood as the protagonist in the films “A Fistful of Dollars,” “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. These recordings began in 1964, and the next year Leone built three western cities in the desert, and they still exist today, one of them still being in use.

Other films that have been shot here are “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), “Cleopatra” with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (1963), “Patton” (1970) and “Conan the Barbarian” (1982). “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery.

Now there are three film villages here, including a theme park. In Oasys Mini Hollywood there are shows, it can be about the bank robbery or the rescue of a prisoner. Everything happens on the main square, Plaza del Pueblo. Alongside the film city there are restaurants, ice cream parlors, swimming pools, a cactus park and a zoo.

For those who enjoy walking, there are good hiking trails in the area.