Reading about the passing of Peter O’Toole, many of us are taking the time to revisit one of the legendary actor’s greatest works: Lawrence of Arabia, a film whose adventurous spirit and exotic locales also inspired scores of travelers to seek out their own life-changing voyages. I found out that that in fact many of the scenes of the movie were shot here in Andalucia and below are some of the amazing places (also) made famous by Lawrence of Arabia.
For example Parque de Maria Luisa in Sevilla. The Moorish-inspired buildings and exotic atmosphere in and around Sevilla’s Maria Luisa Park served as a perfect all-purpose backdrop for the Lawrence crew. In the film, the park’s Plaza de América and the nearby Casino served as fill-ins for Jerusalem and Damascus respectively and today’s park remains an oasis of trickling fountains and flowering vines that mixes Islamic architectural motifs with the most charming aspects of English and French gardens. I wrote about the park in this earlier post. Adjacent to the park there is Plaza de España; Perhaps the film’s most immediately recognizable landmark (aside from the real deserts, of course) is the Plaza de España, also in Sevilla. The curving column-lined walkways and sun-lit square have appeared in everything from Lawrence of Arabia to Star Wars to the 2012 comedy The Dictator. Today, it’s one of Sevilla crowning landmarks, no small feat in a historic city that has served as such a crucible of cultures and architectural styles.
Then there is Casa de Pilatos also in Sevilla. Although the classic meetings between Lawrence and General Allenby were set in the Middle East, a closer look reveals the unmistakably delicate columns, Moorish arches, and geometric tile-work of Sevilla’s Casa de Pilatos. This 16th-century Renaissance-Mudéjar palace is one of the world’s best examples of Andalusian architecture and is known for its peaceful courtyards and gardens. It was only recently point at to by guests that had visited the lovely house.
Closeby the Real Alcázar. Several scenes from Lawrence’s arrival in Jerusalem were also shot in and around the Real Alcázar of Sevilla, a spectacular Almohad palace and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the city center. While not as famous as its “twin,” the Alhambra of Granada, the Real Alcázar’s mixture of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic architecture, sprawling gardens, and imposing walls is every bit as spectacular.
Finally, a bit further away, from here but certainly worth visiting is Cabo de Gata,. Aside from being one of Europe’s most spectacular natural parks, Cabo de Gata was also home to some of Lawrence of Arabia’s most memorable scenes. For those depicting the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba, director David Lean had a full-scale replica built on Playa del Algarrobico using hundreds of locals from the sleepy resort town of Carbonaras. While the plywood domes and make-shift minarets have long since vanished, the striking setting of rugged mountains, white sand, and crystal-blue waters still remains the same.
So if you are a movie and/or a O‘Tool lover this is yet another reason to visit this beautiful part of the world.