With its diverse landscape, it’s little wonder Spain is home to some of the planet’s most iconic film locations. From the snow-capped mountains of the Pyrenees to the dusty plains of the Tabernas Desert, the country has captured the imagination of countless directors over the years.
It was here, at Sad Hill Cemetry in the northern Spanish province of Burgos, that Sergio Leone chose to shoot the final showdown in his classic 1966 spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Decades later, the 12th-century Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara appeared as the Tower of Joy in season six of HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones.
See these striking film locations – and more – for yourself on your next trip to Spain. These are our favorites.
[See also: An Art Trail Through Spain]
Lawrence of Arabia
It seems fitting to kick off our list of the most iconic film locations in Spain with what is indisputably one of the greatest movies ever made, David Lean’s 1962 Lawrence of Arabia – an epic biopic of British army officer T. E Lawrence.
Despite appearances, a significant chunk of the movie was filmed in Spain. The unspoilt beach of Algarrobico on the southeastern coast was chosen as the setting to build a plywood replica of the Red Sea port city of Aqaba. Over a three-month period, the crew constructed over 300 false front buildings and a sea wall stretching for a quarter of a mile.
Lean also chose to shoot several scenes in the Tabernas Desert in Almeria, while the city of Seville served as a double for the bustling streets of Cairo, Jerusalem and Damascus.
Chimes at Midnight
Orson Welles also turned to Spain when selecting the locations for his legendary 1965 Shakespeare adaptation, Chimes at Midnight, which delves into the friendship between Prince Hal and Sir John Falsoff (played by Welles himself).
The opening scenes were filmed in the city of Soria in north-central Spain, while the 15th-century streets of ‘London’ were in fact shot in Pedraza, a medieval town north of Madrid.
Welles also chose the Castle of Cardona in Catalonia to represent King Henry VI’s court and the Casa de Campo park in Madrid as the backdrop for the unforgettable Battle of Shrewsbury scene.
Set in Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, David Lean had his work cut out when finding the perfect location for his celebrated 1965 historical romance, Doctor Zhivago.
But the director once again chose Spain as the setting for many of the movie’s most iconic scenes. The suburb of Canillas in Madrid was used to construct a huge outdoor section of ‘Moscow’, while the snow-covered forests and ice palace at Varyinko were filmed in Soria. Several scenes were also shot at the Aldeadávila Dam on the Duero River – one of the highest dams in Spain.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
It would be remiss of us not to include Sergio Leone’s classic western in our roundup of the most iconic film locations in Spain.
Set during the American Civil War, the famed battle at Langstone Bridge between the union and confederate armies was in fact filmed on the Arlanza River in Burgos, while nearby Sad Hill Cemetry was chosen as the location for Clint Eastwood’s final showdown with Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.
Other notable locations include the scenes shot at a railroad station which were filmed in La Calahorra in the Granada Province and the desert walk scene which took place in the strikingly beautiful Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Almeria.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Next up on our list is Steven Spielberg’s 1989 action-adventure movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which follows the much-loved archaeologist on a quest to track down his father who is being held hostage by the Nazis while searching for the Holi Grail.
While the opening scenes are shot in Arches National Park in southern Utah, Spielberg also filmed many of the desert scenes in Tabernas, Almeria, as well as using Guadix Station in Granada as the backdrop for the scene where Dr. Brody is captured and abducted.
Our list of iconic film locations in Spain would not be complete without mentioning Star Wars. In Episode II: Attack of the Clones George Lucas chose the beautiful Plaza de España in Seville to film scenes where Anakin, Padme and R2D2 arrive at the City of Theed on planet Naboo.
Game of Thrones
Last but by no means least on our roundup of the most iconic film locations in Spain is Game of Thrones. The HBO show ran for almost a decade and is peppered with incredible Spanish sets.
Among the most memorable are the Roman Bridge in Cordoba which was used as the Long Bridge in the city of Volantis in season five; the 12th-century Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara which appeared as the Tower of Joy in season six; and the historic ruins of the Italica amphitheatre near Seville which were used to film scenes at the Dragonpit in season seven.