In the 1960s Hollywood decided that the desert area around
Tabernas near Almería was a much more realistic setting for
western films than any place in America. In the early 1970s,
the Americans arrived and built a western town complete
with a fort, a Mexican village and an Indian village.
The Western set includes a gallows, bank, hotel, jail,
blacksmith’s shop and a Sheriff’s office, all built in a style
reminiscent of the American Old West era. This is Fort
The Mexican set features a church, a town square and
pueblo-style houses, whilst the Indian village consists of
Actors such as Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda and Lee Van
Cleef rode the plains, drank and played cards in the saloon
and fought it out on the main street during the making of the
spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, ‘Once Upon a Time in
the West’, ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and many more.
In 1977, a stuntman, Rafa Molina, bought the set for a fistful
of dollars, 6,000 to be precise. His rationale was to
encourage filming and thus his chances of employment.
Hundreds of films and commercials have since been
produced. Rafa’s plot also worked. He has been hung, shot,
blown up, dragged behind his horse, fallen off high buildings and been thrown through the saloon’s batwing doors
more times than is healthy for a grown man.
Today the sets are occasionally used for advertisements
and films but the main attraction at Fort Bravo, Texas
Hollywood, is the opportunity for grown men, and
women, to act out their cowboy fantasies.
Hire a horse and follow the trail of the ‘Man With No
Name’, accompanied by suitable background music
composed by Sergio Leone played over the outdoor
speaker system. The cowboys in the white hats and
dust coats, watching through slit eyes as you pass by
are the bad guys – don’t be tempted to steal the horse.
At 12.30pm and 2.30pm take a beer in the saloon. You
may well become involved in the live entertainment, all
the guns fire blanks but you can never be sure.
Apart from wandering around the sets, there is not a
great deal for the younger child, it is definitely a man
place, but a short distance back down the road towards
Almería there is another attraction, Oasys Mini
Oasys is a Western-style theme park. It was built for the
film ‘For a Few Dollars More’ and includes an
abandoned gold mine, saloon, stores and a bank. Mock
bank raids occur several times each day, and Jesse
James meets his maker every few hours. There is a Fun
Barn for children’s activities, a swimming complex in
which to cool down and a zoo with big cats.
After the filming of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’,
the film extras purchased the set, for rather more than
Rafa paid for his town, to promote it as a tourist
attraction. They were later bought out by a hotel group.
If that is not enough for you then, on the A-92, north of
Almería, you will find Western Leone. As the name
suggests, it was built by Sergio himself. In addition to
the regular wild west buildings, there is the original
large red house that was a central location in ‘Once
Upon a Time in the West’. Shows take place in the
saloon and on the street three or four times per day.
Food and drink are available in the saloon and
restaurant and, for those with a thirst for knowledge,
there is a small film museum. Horses can be hired and,
unlike at Fort Bravo, the rides are guided and take you
into the surrounding desert where you will recognise
many of the buttes and wadis, scenes of raids,
ambushes and escapes in so many films. Sadly, there is
no accompanying music
Oasys Mini Hollywood: Leave Fort Bravo, return to the main road, turn right and drive for 4 kilometres. Oasys is on
the left. www.oasysparquetematico.com/en/
Western Leone: Leave Oasys, turn left and join the A-92. Head north signposted Guadix. After 1 kilometre leave at
the junction at kilometre 378.9. www.western-leone.es
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Submitted by Brenda Marshall on 2 Jun 2019
We spent a very enjoyable day at Fort
Bravo on the set, watched a gun fight in the bar and the baddies being brought back.into town dragged behind a horse. Very entertaining, very realistic and lots to see and do, including eating in their onsite restaurant. Recognised a few of the backdrops from films we had seen. Well worth a visit if you are in that area and allow yourself sufficient time to catch the shows.
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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