Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Spaghetti Western Location~ Valle de Mirandilla

The Valle de Mirandilla is a remote area in the south-eastern part of the province of Burgos, at 1,150 meters above sea level, it is located three kilometers south of the village of Contreras (twelve kilometers south of the town of Salas de los Infantes), six kilometers north of Carazzo and as many kilomers east of Santo Domingo de Silos, which is located beyond the hills called Alto de los Cuetos. The fact that the territory of this valley has belonged to these three distinct communities since the Middle Ages has caused confusion about its denomination: it is also known as Valle de Tierras de Carazo. Complex is also the question of the denominations of the various parts of the Sierra that limits the valley on the eastern side, known as Sierra Carazo (but also as Pena de Carazo or Pena de Villanueva).

The northern part of the Sierra, which overlooks the area where the set of the great Sad Hill Cemetery was built for the film “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” (a zone apart from the Santo Domingo de Silos territory), and it is called Alto de San Carlos (also Alto de Mirandilla) (1,466 meters) and located in the territory of Carazo) developed a third part of the sierra, which is called Sonla based on the design of the scenographer Carlo Leva, was made in just three days , with the collaboration of 250 soldiers of the Spanish army stationed in Burgos, in a landfall in the northern part of the Mirandilla valley, dominated by the steep limestone cliffs of Alto de San Carlos.

It is the place where the treasure was sought by the protagonists and is hidden where the final clash between the three protagonists takes place: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach. The large war cemetery, circular in shape, a sort of arena, an evident graft within the Italian western of a typical element of the historical-mythological cinematographic genre, from which Sergio Leone directly came, has a diameter of about three hundred meters. It includes about three thousand mounds of earth with crosses and tombstones made of wood and stone, simulating tombs, which in the form of concentric circles and rays converge towards a central area (thirty meters in diameter) paved with stones. The mounds, cleared now of vegetation, and traces of the central stone area remain of the grandiose set of the Sad Hill cemetery. The circular design of the whole area is well understood by climbing the dirt road that leads to Santo Domingo de Silos. A few meters from the entrance of the enclosure that marks the beginning of the de Mirandilla, in a beautiful panoramic position, with a pyramidal mountain in the north and the imposing silhouette of Alto de San Carlos in the east, the set of a little church was built as a ruin in which, after the battle of the Langstone bridge, Blonde (Clint Eastwood) finds a dying young confederate soldier. Some traces of this small set remain on the ground: the perimeter is scattered with fragments of plaster.

At the beginning of the Mirandella valley, the scene was shot in which Clint Eastwood manages to stop Tuco who is fleeing on horseback by firing a cannon shot. South of the cemetery, the final scene “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was filmed: Clint Eastwood's rides completely cross the screen (from left to right) towards the slope of a hill covered with a large reddish brown stain (it is a dense vegetation of heather bushes) and ends with an extraordinary panoramic view from above, in a very long field, with the silhouette of Sonocarazo (towards the village of Carazo) which appears very far on the horizon. Exceptionally enhanced by Sergio Leone's film, the beautiful Valle de Mirandilla had actually appeared on the screens a few years earlier in a historic Spanish-American co-production film: “The Lions of Castile” (El valle de los espadas: 1962), directed by Javier Seto and produced by Sidney Pink with Espartaco Santoni, Cesar Romero, Broderick Crawford, Alida Valli which was inspired by the epic poem that exalts the deeds of Fernan Gonzales, first count of Castile, at the time of the wars against Castile, which was also in its time a frontier territory, just like the American West, a borderland and clashes between Christians perched in the north and Muslims pressing from the south. The magnificent Mirandilla Valley of the Colectivo Arqueologico y Palenontologico de Salas de los Infantes (Burgos) has become an increasingly visited film location.

The Castilian” (1963)
“Sad Hill Chapel” (1966)

“Sad Hill Cemetery” unearthed (2016)

“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)

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