Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

Director

David Lean

Cast

visit the film locations

Seville: Flights: San Pablo Airport Tourism: Andalucia; Seville

The Plaza de Espana stands in Maria Luisa Park, just east of the city centre

Hotel Alfonso XIII, 2 San Fernando 41004 (tel: 5422.2850)

Spain: Almeria Travel Guide: travel guide to Spain’s southern desert region and Mini-Hollwood, where countless films have been made, including Sergio Leone’s classic Spaghetti Westerns, Indiana Jones, Cleopatra and many more.

Jordan: Visit Jordan


Trivia

The spectacular Plaza de Espana is seen again in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Plaza of the Americas became a 'Tangier' palace in 1975 John Milius epic The Wind and the Lion

Lawrence of Arabia filming location: the cliffs of Wadi Rumm, Jordan

Lawrence of Arabia location: The ‘Arabian’ desert: the cliffs of Wadi Rumm, Jordan

Most of the locations for David Lean’s last really great film, before his taste for the overblown tipped over into pomposity, can be found – despite appearances – in Spain.

The memorial service for TE Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) did actually use the steps in front of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, but even here, the interior was recreated in a Spanish studio. David Lean had already filmed at St Paul’s, back in 1946, for his classic adaptation of Charles DickensGreat Expectations.

Lawrence of Arabia filming location: St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Lawrence of Arabia location: The memorial service for TE Lawrence: St Paul’s Cathedral, London

The town of’ ‘Aqaba’ was built at a beach called Playa del Algarrobico near Carboneras, close to Almeria in southern Spain. The attack on the train filmed at Genovese Beach, San Jose on Cabo de Gata (Cape of the Cat) nearby.

Lawrence of Arabia filming location: the cliffs of Wadi Rumm, Jordan

Lawrence of Arabia location: The Officers’ club in ‘Cairo’: Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

For many of the ‘Middle Eastern’ settings, Lean used the heavily Moorish city of Seville, particularly the vast complex of buildings in the Parque de Maria Luisa, Avenida de Isabel la Catolica, built for the disastrous 1929 Spanish-American exhibition.

Lawrence of Arabia filming location:  Plaza of the Americas, Seville, Spain

Lawrence of Arabia location: the civic buildings of ‘Jerusalem’: Plaza of the Americas, Seville, Spain

Here you can find the ‘Cairo’ officers' club, where Lawrence’s companion is refused a drink after the desert crossing, which is the, currently empty and rather dilapidated, Palaçio Español, a semi-circular arcaded building in the Plaza de España (seen more recently as the exterior of ‘Naboo's Theed palace’ in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and as the presidential palace of ‘Wadiya’ in Sacha Baron Cohen comedy, The Dictator).

Lawrence of Arabia filming location: El Casino, Seville, Spain

Lawrence of Arabia location: the council chamber: El Casino, Seville

‘Jerusalem’s civic buildings’ are the Plaza of the Americas just to the south (seen as ‘Tangier’ in John Milius’s 1975 epic The Wind and the Lion, with Candice Bergen and Sean Connery), while ‘Damascus’ town hall, the Arab council chamber, is the nearby circular El Casino, Avenida de Maria Luisa.

Lawrence of Arabia filming location: Alfonso XIII Hotel, Seville, Spain

Lawrence of Arabia location: Courtyard of the officers' club: Seville's luxurious Alfonso XIII Hotel

Also in Seville is the courtyard of the Officers’ Club, which is the central court of the luxurious, though extremely friendly, Hotel Alfonso XIII, 2 San Fernando 41004.

Lawrence of Arabia filming location: Casa de Pilatos, Plaza de Pilatos, Seville, Spain

Lawrence of Arabia location: Lawrence meets General Allenby: Casa de Pilatos, Plaza de Pilatos, Seville

Lawrence and General Allenby (Jack Hawkins) meet in another Seville landmark, the Casa de Pilatos, Plaza de Pilatos (tel: +34.95.4225055; admission charge), built in 1519, the claim that it’s a copy of Pontius Pilate’s – surprisingly 16th century – Jerusalem home, sadly, seems to be a myth. During the performance of a religious play here in the 16th century, Pilate appeared at a window to deliver a short speech, since when the palace was popularly referred to as Pilate´s home. The villa crops up again as the hideout of the main villain in Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz action comedy Knight And Day.

But of course, the real visual splendour of Lawrence lies in its breathtaking desertscapes, which were filmed in Jordan.

Lawrence’s first introduction to the desert is the black basalt landscape of Jebel Tubayq, near Jordan's Saudi Arabian border, as is much of the trekking and the caravan across the Nefud. The camp of Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness), and the well where Lawrence gets a little bit carried away with his new Arab robes, are the spectacular red cliffs of Wadi Rumm, twenty miles north of the Gulf of Aqaba.

The spectacular camel ride entrance of Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) used the mudflats at Jafr in Jordan (of course, Sharif wasn’t actually in this, his most famous scene), as did the rescue of the lost Gasim (IS Johar).

The opening scene, of Lawrence’s fatal motorbike ride, which in reality took place in Dorset) is Chobham, Surrey.

It’s claimed that more scenes were filmed in Morocco, at Ait Benhaddou, a spectacular village made up of several small kasbahs (fortresses), about fifteen miles northwest of Ouarzazate. Its red towers have been seen in Gladiator, The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah and The Jewel of the Nile. Just outside Ouarzazate, the giant Glaoui Kasbah was converted into a hotel, now the Kasbah Tifoultoutte, specially to house the cast. It’s about three miles from Ouarzazate on the P31 (tel: 04.88.46.36).

Extra desert shots were filmed in the United States, on the Imperial Sand Dunes, Highway 78, east of El Centro, southern California close to the Mexican border.

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