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Hollywood transforms Renaissance palace

Published on 30/01/2004

30 January 2004

PALMA DEL RIO – Hollywood has transformed a former Spanish Renaissance palace into a Middle Eastern village, it was reported Friday.

The Palacio de los Portocarreros in Palma del Río, Córdoba, southern Spain, belonged to one of the strongmen of the Catholic Kings in the 14th century during the reconquest of Al-Andalus.

But it has become the residence of a young iron smith and crusader from Jerusalem, portrayed by Orlando Bloom, famed for his role as the elf Legolas in “The Lord of the Rings”.

With its population of 20,000, the peaceful town on the banks of the Guadalquivir is to be changed into a film set for eight days to shoot parts of Ridley Scott’s “The Kingdom of Heaven”.

Scott and his entourage of roughly 300 people will arrive in Palma del Río after shooting in the Loarre castle in Huesca and on location in Segovia.

Several locals have been hired as extras, and the entire population is looking forward to the arrival of Hollywood superstars. This will be the second time the town has been used as a film set, after the 1965 rural melodrama “El alma de la copla” was shot on its streets.

What the people of Palma del Río still do not know is whether they will be able to get a glimpse of the actors, including Liam Neeson, Eva Green and David Thewlis.

Scott, who visited the town twice to approve the locations, wants to make sure no modern details betray the set.

The film’s Spanish producer, Calle Cruzada, is guarding the sets and the plot with strict security measures.

Ever since the initial work to transform the Renaissance palace of Portocarreros began, access has been restricted and the set decorators have been sworn to secrecy.

Of the roughly 125 extras cast to join the stars, there are several Moroccans selected at castings in Córdoba and Palma del Río.

The extras will portray hospital patients, noblemen and friars, and will also have to undergo transformations in order to play their part, such as shaving their heads to play clergymen and letting their beards grow to give life to the Christian warriors who crossed Europe to conquer the holy lands of Jerusalem.

One of the extras, Rafael Nieto, said they will have to be available 12 hours a day, for a daily pay of EUR 60.

The Palacio de los Portocarreros will not only be a residence in Jerusalem, but will also recreate the hustle and bustle of the Italian port town Messina.

Enrique Moreno de la Cova, a Sevillian businessman and current owner of the palace, said he will use the money earned from renting his property to restore the building and turn it into a hotel.

Even if the residents of Palma del Río don’t get to see the stars close-up, they are confident that Scott’s “invasion” will be good for the town’s economy, since all services such as cleaning, gardening, carpentry and building will be done by local contractors.

Scott, the leading actors and part of the film crew are staying at the fully-booked Hospedería de San Francisco.

After filming in Palma del Río, the film crew will move to Seville and Morocco.

The palace will be open to the public for two days.

The town council of Cordoba declined permission to film in the Mosque-Cathedral.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news