Normally, my travel themed posts concentrate on things we’ve done and seen. However, while I was preparing this short piece on our two stays in Santo Domingo de Silos I discovered that what is arguably its most interesting feature – and certainly its most famous tourist attraction – is something I never knew was there!

Briefly, Santo Domingo de Silos is a small town (more of a large village in actual fact) near the ancient royal city of Burgos in the north of Spain. Until 1968 it was most-known for its ancient Benedictine monastery (which closed its doors in 1835) and for possibly being within the estates of one Rodrigo de Vivar – otherwise known as Charlton Heston…I mean El Cid!

All this changed however in 1968 when the local cemetery, known as Sad Hill (Cementerio de Sad Hill in Spanish, apparently?) was used as the location for the final scene of the movie, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The combination of Sergio Leone’s super-terse direction; Enrico Morricone’s slow-build-tension music; the three actors involved (Eastwood, Wallach and Van Cleef); and the surreal cemetery itself created one of the most memorable – not to mention imitated and parodied scenes in the history of cinema.

Until this morning, I had always assumed that the scene was filmed somewhere in the Almeria region, like the vast majority of Leone’s “Spaghetti Western” location shots. I’d also assumed, given its unusual configuration, that the cemetery was an outdoor set created for the film. Never did it occur to me that it was an actual place, and one that I’d been a mere five minute walk from on two occasions.

Unfortunately, my past obliviousness means that the pictures illustrating this post, of the picturesque town and its other environs, do not include any of Sad Hill Cemetery. Fortunately though, we plan to pass through the area again in the near future, and although our main reason for doing so had been to sample the delicious local roast lamb, we now have Sad Hill firmly on the agenda.

6 thoughts on “NO SAD HILL, SADLY

  1. Lovely photos! I’ll be really interested to see Sad Hill when you get back there.

    P.s. In some of your photos I can see you’ve possibly used a digital filter. It looks excellent. Can I ask what filter you used?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! No big mystery about the filters; generally just Adobe Photoshop dry brush filter (which gives a gouache feel) and on this latest post the watercolour filter. I have some other tricks too which I can explain through an email.


  2. I wonder how it got its name.
    I’m not much of a film buff and too look forward to your photos. In the meantime, with the benefits of modern technology, I googled it – nary a word about El Cid – but lots of images, and I will ask my TV remote to find “The Good Bad and Ugly,” not to watch but to record and then skim to find the scene.
    It amazes me that I read so quickly what you write in Spain, Sweden or England [or wherever you currently are] and then am able to get more information so easily. The phrase “long hours in a dusty library” no longer means anything to today’s students.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ray. The El Cid story is at least semi mythological anyhow, but for that you might actually need to revert to your nearest decent library – meanwhile I’ll see if I can find anything. Do you ever take a look in Google Scholar? As for the movie; it’s easy to find as it’s the big final scene, and far more interesting for the backdrop than the scene itself – in my opinion at least.


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