Spain in-depth: Cinema

Best movies filmed in Spain

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Best movies in Spain

Spain was and continues to be a popular filming destination for Hollywood movies thanks to its beautiful landscapes, architectural gems, sunny weather and also low costs. Many movies filmed in Spain date back to the 50s and 60s. Spain was a filming hotspot location for many 1950-60 Western classics such as Clint Eastwood´s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Many American producers are attracted to Spain and you can expect a great deal more of films that are yet to be released in 2018/19 to contain scenes shot on the Iberian Peninsula.

One of the most popular filming locations where we find Spain in the movies is Seville´s Plaza de España. Spain is the spotlight of many international movies; however we will focus merely on English-language films, mainly from Hollywood.

Spain is also home to prestigious film festivals like the San Sebastian film festival or the Science fiction festival held in Sitges, near Barcelona. 

Movies set in Spain

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Released in 2008, this Woody Allen romantic-comedy featuring Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz is based mainly in Barcelona – as you can tell by the name of the movie. Throughout the film you will see notable sites in the Catalan capital such as the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí´s Casa Milà on Paseo de Gracia and Las Ramblas. In case you are also wondering what the name of the restaurant is where Vicky and Christina is approached by Juan Antonio, it is called Els Quatre Gats. The name of the bar which Juan goes to with Christina is called La Marsella – one of the oldest in Barcelona famous for its Absinthe.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Yes…that´s right! In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones the city of Theed on the Naboo Planet is infact Seville´s semi-circular Plaza de España – built in 1929 for the World Exposition. The square appears in the scene where Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) is taking a walk with Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) accompanied by R2-D2. The Plaza de España in Seville is a must for any Star Wars lover and is incredibly stunning when seen in real life. There is a lot of detail found on this unique square, especially with its carefully-painted ceramic tiles and railings found on the bridges. In our opinion, this one definitely needed to be on the list for one of the best movies filmed in Spain.   

With our Seville´s city guide you will get to visit some of the places used!

Indiana Jones and the last crusade – Steven Spielberg

Another film from Steven Spielberg that opted for Spain. Almost half of this movie was filmed in Spain. The desert of Almeria (Tabernas desert), used in many other American movies, was chosen due to its similarities with the middle east. Iskenderum is in reality a bit of Almerica and the city of Granada. You may remember Dr Brody been besieged by beggars and then nazis. Guadix station in the province of Granada was used for this part.
Another very famous scene with Dr Jones senior remembering Charlemagne and using his umbrella to panic a flock of seabirds (that fly into the engines of a plane that then crashes) . This beach is Playa de Monsul in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in Spain, located a few miles east of Almeria. Cabo de gata is one of the many natural parks in Spain.

The Others (2001)

This award-winning horror film which stars Nicole Kidman has exterior scenes set at Palacio de los Hornillos – a beautiful (maybe not so much in the movie) palace located in the North of Spain in Las Fraguas, Cantabria. Today the palace can be rented for weddings, events or other special occasions, and don´t worry because it is certainly not spooky as portrayed in the horror movie but rather serene and picturesque. 

The Dictator (2012)

Believe it or not but Sacha Baron Cohen´s controversial comedy film – The Dictator (2012) – has scenes from Seville´s Plaza España, which was  transformed into the cruel dictator´s (Aladeen) palace. You will notice it in the scene where the General Aladeen is speaking from his palace´s balcony addressing the people. Quite a few touches were made the Plaza España to make it resemble Aladeen´s palace in the Middle East including : adding more palm trees, placing statues and images of the dictator by the gates, adding flags and placing golden domes…. not to forget mentioning the golden vehicles in front of the gates. This movie filmed in Spain is another good example to show how the Plaza España is a top choice for producers.

The Kingdom of heaven – Ridley Scott

This adventure and romance movie starred by Orlando Bloom makes use of the amazing castle of Loarre in the Huesca region (Aragon), north of Zaragoza. This is one of Europe´s best preserved castle from the XII century. The movie was also filmed in the cathedral of Avila, the Casa Pilatos (One of Sevillés top attractions) and in Palma del Rio, also in Andalusia.

Exodus – Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott seems to enjoying filming in Spain. Exodus came out in 2014 and was a big blocbuster. Most of the film was shot in Spain. Almeria was chosen for part of the scens in Egypt, but the most famous scene with Moses crossing the parted Read sea, was shot in Fuerteventura, Canary islands, in the Risco del Paso beach.

Game of Thrones

Ranked by The Telegraph under 25 Incredible Game of Thrones filming Locations You Must Visit in Your Lifetime, San Juan de Gaztelugatexe (Basque Country) is one of the filming locations in Spain for the 7th season where Daenerys and Jon Snow walk along a footbridge. This magnificent coastline path offers extraordinary views and great photo opportunities.

Want to visit this location whilst on holiday in Spain? We recommend you have a look at our Bilbao city guide too.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Where is the famous Fast & Furious 6 bridge collapse scene filmed? The answer is the Canary Islands in Spain. Shortly after the opening scene where Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are racing their cars through the narrow streets on the coast you will see a caption revealing that they are indeed in Spain on the breathtaking islands. Producers had several options in mind but chose the Canary Islands for some of the scenes as the government was willing to fully collaborate, costs were much lower (thanks to tax credit) and naturally the beautiful weather which minimized the risk of disruption to the filming schedule. Below you can take a look at the superb opening scene from Fast & Furious filmed on the Canary Islands.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The Bourne Ultimatum starring Matt Damon and Julia Stiles is partly filmed in Madrid, Spain. The Madrid scenes are when: Matt Damon is walking in the Atocha Railway Station next to a Renfe train and Simon Ross (Journalist from the Guardian) meets Neal Daniels at Café del Príncipe – located on Plaza de Canalejas.

If you are interested in discovering Madrid just like Matt Damon once got to do, have a look here at some of the best things to do in Madrid!  

Empire of the Sun (1987)

In Steven Spielberg´s classic film, Empire of the Sun, the Japanese prison camp set is in fact in Spain not too far from Jerez in the region of Andalusia. To be more specific, the filming location was in Trebujena. According to the Chicago Tribune, the production of this movie brought a significant amount of jobs to the townspeople of Trebujena who -at the time-were unemployed (the majority) or worked on the fields.

Knight and Day (2010)

This action-comedy featuring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz contain scenes that are shot around Seville´s gorgeous streets. The hiding place of Antonio (gang leader) is filmed at the Casa de Pilatos however it is the bull chasing scene which definitely remains one of the most exciting of the movie. You will see Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise on a motorbike as they drive through one of Spain´s oldest bullrings called  Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería.

007: The World is Not Enough (1999)

That is correct; James Bond movies have been filmed in Spain before! In the opening scene of The World is Not Enough you will see that Mr. Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is in Bilbao, Spain and you get a brief glimpse of the renowned Guggenheim Museum. After Bond escapes through the window you see him walking, somewhat calmly, over the Ría de Bilbao where you once again have a view of the magnificent museum – one of Spain´s architectural gems. 

In Bilbao and looking for an escape (not a James Bond kind of escape)? 

Die Another Day – 007  James Bond

Another movie from James Bond set in Spain. The location selected this time was La Caleta Beach Cadiz, in Southern Spain, a city famous for its carnival (one of the best things to enjoy in Spain in February) was chosen to stand in for Havanna. Given the situation in Cuba, the Cuban capital, could not be used and filmmakers were obliged to look for an alternative. Filming took place in early 2002 and Halle Berry did not emerge from the much warmer waters of the Caribbean… Cadiz was a good match due to the Spanish colonial style architecture.


Lawrence of Arabia (1962)  

Similar to Star Wars Episode II, there is a scene from David Lean´s 1962 Lawrence of Arabia which is filmed on Seville´s Plaza de España. In the actual movie, this particular location is supposed to represent an officer’s club which is based in Cairo. Many other scenes in the movie are shot in various locations around Seville including Casa de Pilatos. Seville´s Moorish architecture makes it a suitable filming location for films that are supposed to take place in the Middle East. The other filming locations of this movie include Jordan, London, California and Morocco.