El  Condor: Birth of a Legend


This is the story of a colossal Western Movie Set, the Fortress 'El Condor'.
A magnificent construction in the desert of Tabernas (Almeria).
Unique in its size and beauty!
El Condor - The Birth of a Legend.

The Fortress El Condor was drawn and designed by Art Director Julio Molina de Juanes (photo) 
and his assistant José María Alarcón.
The construction was led by Set Decorator Enrique Fernández and his assistants Rafael Ablanque and 
Luciano Arroyo Matas (uncredited).
A crew of up to 50 construction workers worked on the set.
Carpenter, painter, bricklayer, plumbers,...a lot of jobs for craftsman from Almeria!

Summer 1969 - A giant awakes...
Most parts of the Fortress are built in skeleton construction.
The shell construction is a skeleton made of wood (photo, on the right).
The walls are prefabricated panels (finished walls) of wood, bamboo or reed mats.
Only in this way you can achieve the rapid completion in just 2 months!
The walls were then plastered and matched in color and look.
But there are also walls made of thin white cardboard which are very weather-prone (rain,wind) or 
plywood panels (ready painted).
The important components of the Fortress were built really solid.
The planned walkways of the Actors, the stairs, etc. are constructed of sturdy wood.
El Condor - Summer 1969 - A logistical feat.
The finished fortress in the movie - What a huge thing!
A jumble of wood, but in the end stands the marvellous Fortress.
The tower is constructed of solid wood.
The walls in front of the tower are built of prefabricated panels.
They were then plastered or covered with cardboard.
The prefabricated panels were taken to set in large numbers by truck.
What a building site. This great photo shows us various stages of construction.
We can see the skeleton structure made of wood.
On the left is a large prefabricated wall. Further up some first walls are already plastered.
In the middle of the photo you can see a massive concrete platform.
This platform was needed for a terrific special effect.
You can find the report about it here: Water Tower.
Kit West personally explains the SP/FX!
The building in the center was built fairly quickly.
Structural work of wood (skeleton construction), prefabricated walls.
We are on the top of the 'movie wall'. The construction site is immense in size and proportions.
This wall was built very stable, you can see the thick wooden planks.
Actors are running around on this wall ...and the heavy camera equipment will be positioned up here.
On the right side a staircase is built.
Look how the staircase looks in the end ... in comparison to the shaky framework!
The huge main gate with its two towers looks great!
El Condor - Summer 1969.
At this point, other prefabricated walls are used.
Maybe the panels have been delivered ready plastered, or they used white plywood panels.
However, this is a time-saving design for straight and large areas, 
such as the walls of the Fortress.
Splendid, the architect (Julio Molina) has really come up with something.
It's incredible how quickly such a large project is completed.
Spanish SP/FX assistant Antonio Parra (left) in discussion with the Construction Crew.
About the Construction guys almost nothing is known. Probably craftsmen from Almeria and environment.
El Condor - Summer 1969.
The SP/FX crew was involved from the beginning in the construction of the fortress.
Perfect conditions to prepare the numerous special effects.
Here we see SP/FX Supervisor Kit West and the very first section of the Fortress 'El Condor'
(Structural work) in the background.
The Construction Crew has built a small shelter.
Here we see Special Effects assistant Jack Wallis climbing in a finished wall of the Fortress.
Right next door, the work continues.
What is he doing there?
(Unfortunately, the photos are all a bit blurry, but still very interesting)
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Lee van Cleef, Jim Brown and a band of Apaches attempt to scale the wall of the Fortress 'El Condor'.
This must of course be tested beforehand. Safety first - The wall is enormous, several meters high.
These scenes have been prepared by the SP/FX crew.
Jack Wallis uses special hooks...to avoid crashing. Do you see a safety line? Jim Brown tries to beat the wall.
Jack Wallis with mountaineering equipment. 
If you look back to the photo of the apaches, you will see several of them wearing those 
'claw climbing shoes'.
Jim Brown is preparing his mountaineering equipment and conquered the wall with hook and 
'claw climbing boots'.
El Condor - Summer 1969.
Work at the main gate. The Fortress is getting bigger.
Antonio Bueno 'Puccini' (SP/FX) is talking with Kit West (in the Jeep).
Kit races away to get the missing parts...passing another famous film set, 
the 'Rancho Leone'. I have some great photos of this set taken 1969, 
which I might present somewhere else in future.
See my other 'El Condor' reports for many more incredible photos!

www.kit-west-almeria.com