Andalucía / Nature / Photography / Spain / Tips / Travel

Visiting an American Wild West–in Spain

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I could see Clint Eastwood’s subtle smirk as soon as I entered the café. From the photo, it was easy to determine the scene. With a gun clutched in his right hand and a black cowboy hat perched high, Eastwood looked equal parts town hero and Western cowboy superstar.

As I strolled past Eastwood (only to see more photos of him donning chaps and riding horses), I came to discover that I had, by accident, found Almería’s “ruta del cine.” Where we sat to order tostadas and coffees (in typical Andalusian fashion), Eastwood had orchestrated various cowboy manuevers in El Bueno, el Malo y el Feo. Or, in English, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” among others, which all sat stacked inside the café’s dusty cabinet case, abandoned by most passerby.

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In a region that is skirted by an intensely jewel-toned Mediterranean sea, Almería’s interior is baked dry, but mountainous. As the only desert in continental Europe, it gives reason to why an Italian director might select this sparse interior as “America’s” wild, wild West.

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If you didn’t notice the explicit gaudiness of that first shot, Almería pumps up the thrill with variations on the theme, ruta del cine. You can drive through the winding desert roads and imagine Eastwood shooting down the bad guys, or envision yourself striding through a blustery Western town, cowboy hat titled down.

Not all, can I say, are very compelling, or accurate. Take this as my best example: Texas Hollywood. From what I gleamed, it’s a theme park of sorts. Complete with Western storefronts, and as pictured, “authentic” Indian tepees.

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In the town of Tabernas, the heart of Almería’s cinematic glory and its desert, you can see film reels or decorative tips to its “American Western” past. At MiniHollywood, you can not only roam with ancient dinosaurs, but also project yourself into a Spanish-styled Hollywood. Signs posted at the highway exits revealed more, but as the sun set, we retreated back to the city. You can only crash old phantoms for so long.

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From my own bubble of existence, I’d say the glory of Spaghetti western films has faded away from the younger populace. I haven’t seen a single Eastwood epic in Almería. Something that I aim to change soon  this weekend.

I’m curious, can you give me any other Spaghetti western film recommendations? I’d love to hear them.

“Hasta La Vista”

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9 thoughts on “Visiting an American Wild West–in Spain

    • Thanks! The Cabo de Gata area is incredible! I only wish I had had more time. 4 1/2 days is certainly not enough.

      Additionally, thanks for the suggestions, I will certainly take a look at that this weekend!

  1. Pingback: Painted pigeons and other oddities, Almería’s a must | Cut the Kitsch

  2. I spent a summer as a teenager living nearby on the coast in Carboneras, where the beach was famously used in Lawrence of Arabia…. it’s kind of odd now to watch the movie and see the place I remember sunbathing. I love the quirky pride they have in the area for their film history though 🙂

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