From Alcarràs to Júzcar: the places that culture has put on the map

The international success of the film Alcarràs, by Carla Simón, winner of the Berlin Golden Bear, has made this Lleida town of just over 9,000 inhabitants a place known in many places.

From Alcarràs to Júzcar: the places that culture has put on the map

The international success of the film Alcarràs, by Carla Simón, winner of the Berlin Golden Bear, has made this Lleida town of just over 9,000 inhabitants a place known in many places. It is a phenomenon that other enclaves scattered throughout the Iberian Peninsula have experienced, to varying degrees, in some cases causing waves of visitors.

René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo managed to make the fictional Gallic village of Asterix, the only one that resisted Julius Caesar, known throughout the world. Carla Simón has managed to make the name of the small agricultural town of Alcarràs, whose inhabitants resist the onslaught of the large food distributors, resonate among moviegoers in many countries. Simón, who spent the summer in Alcarràs as a child, has taken the resistance of the small farmers of the town to the cinema, she has turned some of her neighbors into occasional actors and has won the Golden Bear at the last Berlinale. She has also conquered the box office. Alcarràs, which premiered on April 29, is still on the billboard and has made a good box. Life in this small Lleida municipality remains the same. Tourism has not increased, no more fruit has been sold and the new summer that is just around the corner is shaping up to be like the one in the movie, sunny, between peach trees, popular festivals and children's games. But although nothing changes, the residents of Alcarràs are proud of Simón and her cinema and they do not hide it. They have celebrated the award at the Berlin Festival and the premiere of the film and now they only have to continue resisting so that the fruit they collect is paid at a fair price. / Leonor Mayor Ortega

This medieval town in the Baix Empordà, with less than 200 inhabitants, boasts a square. Important scenes were shot there – starting with the wedding – of Eight Catalan surnames, the comedy that Emilio Martínez-Lázaro directed in 2015 after the success, the previous year, of his Eight Basque surnames. Tourist visits have multiplied since then. / FOR.

Pollença, a municipality of stone houses in the north of Mallorca, is the base of operations for Melchor Marín, the character who stars in Javier Cercas' Terra Alta trilogy. Her third installment, Bluebeard's Castle, takes place between the Serra de Tramuntana and this placid town, which also inspired Agatha Christie at the beginning of the last century to write her book Problema en Pollença. Likewise, the beauty of another Balearic island, Formentera, has been reflected in innumerable films shot there, but Lucía y el sexo (2001), by Julio Medem, turned the Cap de Barbària lighthouse to which Paz Vega was heading on a motorcycle, into an icon of the place. Visited by thousands of tourists, the authorities have had to limit access to the area due to the enormous influx of cars. / Nekane Domblás

The Valencian town is the scene of many films. Eggs of gold (Bigas Luna, 1993), with Javier Bardem, is the best known, but there is more. Classics such as A Kiss at the Port (1965) by Ramón Torrado and starring Manolo Escobar, or part of Justino, a Murderer of the Elderly (1994). More recent, such as El callejón (2011), with Ana de Armas directed by Antonio Trashorras or the acclaimed Nieva en Benidorm (2022) by Isabel Coixet. Also series like Fugitive on TVE, with Paz Vega as the protagonist. / Salvador Enguix

Almagro, in Ciudad Real, is almost incredible history of Spain. Land of conquerors, it experienced a period of splendor in the 16th and 17th centuries: the Függers, the powerful bankers who succeeded the Medici, landed here to manage the income from mercury from the Almadén mines obtained in payment for aid to Emperor Charles V. There is the Palace of the Fúcares – Castilianization of the Függer – and the spectacular and unique main square, in the style of northern Europe in the heart of La Mancha. A square where the old Corral de Comedias stands, from 1628, epicenter of the rebirth of the city after a few centuries of decadence: from it was born in 1978 the referential International Festival of Classical Theater of Almagro, a city that has also starring in films as popular as Pedro Almodóvar's Volver in 2006. / Justo Barranco

From the characteristic white of a typical Andalusian village anchored in the Serranía de Ronda (Málaga), to impregnate all the facades of houses and buildings with blue, passing, with it, from the tranquility in which its little more than 200 inhabitants lived to a constant bustle of tourists. This is what happened to Júzcar, known as the Smurf People, in 2011. And no, the film The Smurfs was not inspired by its narrow and steep streets; however, he did welcome his promotion, which marked a before and after for his neighbors. Become an attraction for visitors, the municipality has taken advantage of its fame to become a true theme park, with zip lines, Tibetan bridges and suspension panels, for the enjoyment of the little ones. Likewise, various Andalusian towns where Game of Thrones was filmed have seen fans of the series parade, for example Osuna, turned into Meereen in fiction and whose bullring was transformed into the Daznak Pit. / Chus del Pino

The Barcelona writer Gabi Martínez went in search of his origins, in 2018, to the Extremaduran region of La Siberia, where he lived for eight months and became a sheepherder, an experience that he reflected in his environmental essay A real change. Likewise, he promoted a caravan of creators in the area, which included, among others, the filmmaker Agustí Villaronga. / FOR.

The spectacular Main Square of Chinchón, of medieval origin, with its arcades and 234 green-painted wooden balconies, has been the scene of royal proclamations, a corral for comedies, bullfights, executions and even a movie set. The square, its old town, the castle, the hills and the great plains that surround the city of Madrid made it the setting for films by Orson Welles, who turned it into Macao with Chinese lanterns for An Immortal Story , with Jeanne Moreau, based on in Karen Blixen's story. It was also used for the sermon on the mountain of the King of Kings by Nicholas Ray, or for the bullfight of Around the world in 80 days with Cantinflas and thousands of extras. Or for The Wonderful World of the Circus by Henry Hathaway, with Claudia Cardinale, Rita Hayworth and John Wayne. Chinchón is a must-see cultural stop but it didn't just shine with golden Hollywood: last summer the cult director Wes Anderson shot his Asteroid City there with Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray or Scarlett Johansson, and it remains to be seen what it has become this privileged setting. / J.Barranco

The filming of the HBO series Game of Thrones stopped during the autumn of 2016 in three locations on the Basque coast: Barrika, Zumaia and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Nine months later, the first episode of the seventh season transformed this islet located between the towns of Bakio and Bermeo into Dragonstone and its popularity skyrocketed. Gaztelugatxe became a pilgrimage center for fans of the series and tourists in general. The authorities were forced to take measures to regulate access to this protected biotope, declared a cultural asset of special protection for its heritage and landscape values. / Ander Goyoaga

Although Martín Zalacaín, the adventurer imagined by Pio Baroja, had already crossed the green meadows of the Baztan Valley on horseback, it was Dolores Redondo from San Sebastian who put him in the spotlight of thousands of readers. The publication of the three novels of the Baztan trilogy, between 2013 and 2014, was a true publishing phenomenon that multiplied the number of visitors to this beautiful valley, characteristic of northern Navarra and made up of 15 towns, with its capital in Elizondo. The film adaptations of the novels underpinned a boom in visitors that word of mouth has consolidated. / A.Goyoaga

One of the best kept secrets of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) by Sergio Leone is not the tomb in which the $200,000 is hidden, which, throughout the film, are pursued by hustlers Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef, but the cemetery in which one of the most iconic scenes of the dollar trilogy takes place is in Burgos. Specifically on the border between Santo Domingo de Silos and Contreras. An iconic place that fell into oblivion for decades but that an association in the area has recovered by forming a cinephile route in which, for just 'a handful of euros', fans of the spaghetti western can leave their mark by sponsoring one of the tombstones restored. The documentary Unearthing Sad Hill (2017) reflects this well. / Asier Martiarena

The television series Fariña, based on the homonymous book by the journalist Nacho Carretero, has made a new business flourish in the Noia and Arousa estuaries linked to drug trafficking, but in this case totally legal and with the capacity to attract the regional tourism sector. These are the routes to learn about the fundamental scenarios of this production available on Netflix and that for the most part correspond to those that made Galicia in the 80s the gateway for Colombian cocaine in Europe. Praia das Furnas, in Porto do Son, stands out, where in the series the old-school smuggler, Terito, and the thriving drug trafficker Sito Miñanco meet. And there is no shortage of stops in the old town of Noia, Isla da Toxa and Cambados, as well as in Vilagarcía de Arousa itself. / Anxo Lugilde

In 2002, the book Universal History of Paniceiros, by Xuan Bello, was published, which turned this Asturian village of 16 houses and 47 inhabitants into the epicenter of changes and transformations in the world, with neighboring neighborhoods in New York, Paris, Barcelona and other places. . The author continued to develop the idea the following year, in Los cuarteles de la memoria. / FOR.

Juan Gómez Bárcena carries out an exhaustive investigation on his native village in Cantabria in the recently published The rest is air. From a multitude of interviews, parish archives, newspaper archives and various documents, he draws a monumental fresco on humanity, even before, since it is part of the big bang. A holistic literary explosion that mixes fiction and reality, autobiography and disclosure, and blurs the time borders. The described landscapes justify several visits. / FOR.

The Huesca valley of Ordesa with the beautiful towns of Broto and Torla, and the surroundings of its national park constitute the childhood Rosebud of the Barbastro writer Manuel Vilas. That's where the Seat 850 driven by his father suffers a puncture and his son tries to discover his footprints on the road 46 years later, as he writes in his successful novel entitled precisely Ordesa. Vilas remembers the place as a happy Arcadia “where the insanities of life die before the splendor of the mountains, the trees and the river”. Today, Ordesa, with its 15,608 hectares of glaciers, beech and fir forests and superb waterfalls, is filled with tourists and mountaineers in summer and the Park authorities must impose severe control measures and restrict access. / Mario Sasoto

Each year, the Canary Islands are the subject of numerous film shoots that come to the islands attracted by the beauty and peculiarity of their landscapes and, above all, very advantageous tax incentives. However, in most of the series and movies, the Canarian landscapes go unnoticed when recreating other worlds (Clash of the Titans, 2010) or countries (in Bourne 5, 2016, Tenerife became Athens). The exception to this reality is the Movistar series Hierro, premiered in 2019 and with a second part in 2021. This fiction showed the beauty of the landscapes of this small Canary Island -with just 11,000 inhabitants-, unknown until then to many. The series put El Hierro back on the world map and reactivated it as a tourist destination. Even today, three years after the broadcast of the first season, visitors continue to arrive looking for the filming locations that are part of the tourist offer of the Meridian Island. Its banana plantations, beaches, natural pools and lava cliffs attracted nearly 300,000 tourists each year since the premiere of Hierro and before the pandemic. / Silvia Fernandez


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