Texas Hollywood/Fort Bravo: the film set for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns in the 1960s

David Goran
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Situated in the province of Almería in Spain, Texas Hollywood/Fort Bravo is a Western-styled theme park originally built in the 1960s as a Western-style set for films.

Its scenery became famous since it was launched by the many “spaghetti westerns,” a term widely used to describe the famous cowboy films, most of which were directed by Italians and included multilingual crews and casts from Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the US.

Fort at the entrance to Fort Bravo. Photo Credit

Fort at the entrance to Fort Bravo Photo Credit

 

Street view of the Western town in Texas Hollywood. Photo Credit

Street view of the Western town in Texas Hollywood  Photo Credit

Fort Bravo is comprised of two film-set villages, a saloon, a restaurant, a photographic studio, a souvenir shop, a swimming pool, and riding stables. The desert is a protected natural park and has attracted film crews since the 1950s.

Fort Bravo is the oldest of the 14 Western villages that were built for filming. Photo Credit

Fort Bravo is the oldest of the 14 Western villages that were built for filming Photo Credit

 

Used as a movie set for spaghetti westerns. Photo Credit

Used as a movie set for spaghetti westerns  Photo Credit

 

Spanish pueblo in Texas Hollywood. Photo Credit

Spanish pueblo Photo Credit

In the 1960s and 1970s, more than 100 films were partially shot at these two film sets in the bleak Almeria desert landscape of Tabernas, including Sergio Leone’s famous spaghetti westerns such as A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were also shot here.

In fact, between 1960 and 1980, over 600 European Westerns were made. Photo Credit

Between 1960 and 1980, over 600 European Westerns were made here  Photo Credit

 

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“. Photo Credit21

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“  Photo Credit

 

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“. Photo Credit

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“ Photo Credit

 

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“ Photo Credit1

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“ Photo Credit

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“ Photo Credit

Film set from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“ Photo Credit

The unique landscape has brought wealth and world fame to the area. Around 1977, a stuntman-turned-entrepreneur Rafa Molina, bought the set for $6,000 to improve his job opportunities and in the early 1980s, he turned the place into a nostalgic western-style theme park, called “Fort Bravo, Texas Hollywood” and started charging admission to visitors who wanted to tour the set.

Mock shoot-outs and barroom brawls were later added, and one of the buildings was converted into a full saloon for selling beer.

Street facade. Photo Credit

Street facade  Photo Credit

The architecture buildings in Texas Hollywood are built in two different styles and split back-to-back between two different areas. The Western set features a blacksmith, jail, a hotel, gallows and clapboard buildings from the American Old West era. The Spanish set consists of a town square, a church, and houses from a typical Mexican pueblo.

Texas Hollywood remains an active film set. Photo Credit

Texas Hollywood remains an active film set   Photo Credit

 

Bank used in “A Town Called Mercy“. Photo Credit

Bank used in “A Town Called Mercy”  Photo Credit

 

Stunt actors perform shows for tourists daily. Photo Credit

Stunt actors perform daily shows for tourists  Photo Credit

Just a few miles from Fort Bravo, there are two other towns also used for shooting westerns. One is “Oasys Park,“ a town that looks exactly like the old towns of the Wild Wild West seen in the movies. It was designed by Carlo Simi and built in 1965 under instructions of Sergio Leone for shooting one of his masterpieces “For a Few Dollars More“ but it was also used as a film set for the filming of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.“ The other is known as “Western Leone,“ which was originally built for the filming of “Once Upon a Time in the West“ in 1968, starring Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson.

Here is another story related to spaghetti  Western from our vault: Lee Van Cleef, the “Bad” from Leone’s spaghetti western, was, in fact, a WWII veteran

More recently, the Doctor Who episode A Town Called Mercy was filmed here in 2012. A list of all the films made at Fort Bravo, about 600 in total, can be found on its website.