Surprisingly, the only true desert in Europe is the Tabernas Desert - a protected natural park hidden in southeastern Spain, in the Costa de Almeria region. The sun there shines over 3000 hours a year, temperatures vary from -5 to 48 °C. The desert has an area of approximately 280 km2 and is one of the most geologically interesting landscapes in Europe, as it clearly shows the process of natural desertification and erosion. Its features include rain depressions, carved by the irregular but penetrating rains that fall only a few days a year - less than 240mm per year. Although the desert is apparently sparsely vegetated, it actually has a variety of xerophytic flora and plants unique to Tabernas that are used to surviving in semi-arid areas.
Nature lovers will instantly fall in love with this wild and desolate area reminiscent of an exotic American landscape. You really have to rub your eyes to believe you're in Europe. The unique landscape has attracted film crews since the 1950s, making the Costa de Almería famous around the world.
Many famous directors of westerns, war films and fantasy adventures have filmed here in south-eastern Spain. Some of the most popular titles are: "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), "A Fistful of Dollars" (1965), "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968), "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989 ), "Vinetu's Testament" (1998), "Lucky Luke" (2004), "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (2014) and others. Costs are often lower (than in the US) and the desert is close to all the big city amenities a film crew needs. And only 30 minutes from the wild desert are the fantastic natural beaches of the Mediterranean Sea - Cabo de Gata Natural Park.
Some of the film sets, originally made for the set of Western movies, have been transformed into unique theme parks for entertainment. One of them is Western Theme Park, Oasys (Mini Hollywood). A chance to visit the old classrooms, the sheriff's office, the local bar, come face-to-face with the wild animals of the zoo, witness a bank robbery and a series of other recreated actions that take you back to the Wild West. An unforgettable experience for all ages, in the pristine landscape of the Tabernas Desert.