As some of you might know I’m in the Almeria region for my documentary photoproject ‘Yucca City’. I am researching and documenting the landscape views, buildings and extra’s (portraits) from Leone’s films shot here.
Specially for the Spaghetti Western forum I decided to take a de-tour and do a quick walk around the once magnificent El-Condor fortress location. As you might see, time has taken it’s toll…but even more so the influence of later movies shot on this set.
The area is off-limits to the public, the shortest way just past Leone Ranch being well in view of their staff. The other way, as I discovered, is by trespassing for around 45 minutes in a number of non-public properties. Fortunately I travel by bike and hence can span the distance in about 8 minutes. Down hill, anyways.
The photos below are not point of view’s from the movies mostly, just carefull snapshots since I was uncomfortable staying there very long (Farmers and Leone ranch people not too far away)
#1 The spec in the distance is El Condor filmset - this is the valley that a lot of footage was shot in. You are looking towards Leone ranch and Oasis (‘mini hollywood’)
#2 The once huge wall has fallen down in rubble (visible on the right)
#3 This used to be the main gate, replaced by a later movie with this arch
#4 Part of the original structure near the gate (perhaps the base of a watchtower)
#5 Remains of a well on the foreground (afaik not part of the original set)
#6 View of the main building where the general (was he?) lived [yes, I like the watchtower in my pictures ;D)
#7 Inside main building. The fireplace has an opening used in the movie to access the (fake) gold. Youngsters have used the desk as a bar… :’(
#8 Inside main building. Really prefer the original paint job…ugh. Later movies did not do the interiour a lot of justice. Top room on the left is where the beautiful girl undressed for the army to see
#9 The only bit of original wall left standing. Facing the Leone Ranch (0.5 km away?) its quite a magnificant structure. Makes you appreciate the huge-ness of this set.
#10 Part of the inner wall (on the hillside). You can see the construction technique (amazing it’s still standing actually…) as well.
#11 Last but not least - the overview. For some obscure reason there are a ton of telegraph or electricity poles all over the place…no clue (some movie I guess).
All in all a very interesting visit…I was there for around one hour. The stairs up the hill appear to be solid concrete but in reality are slabs built on a wooden frame. They start to sag in the middle, walking on them alone was not the most pleasurable thing ;). There is a fantastic sense of creepyness to the site, just as Leone wanted his moviesets. Slamming and squeeking doors in the wind, some risc of being caught and a enough buildings to make it look impressive.
It’s rare to find a (still) large set like this unmanicured by some commercial exploitation. Too bad it’s been massively overhauled for later movies. If it could have been maintained in its original state more or less, it would be a fantastic place to visit for spaghetti western fans.
Keep an eye out for future photo-reports on other places (besides obviously my more extensive and professional Yucca City project 8) ).