Posted by: Jerry Garrett | May 24, 2012

Where’s That Palace in Sacha Baron Cohen’s THE DICTATOR

Admiral General Aladeen speaks from the balcony of his palace. (Paramount Pictures)


Okay a top question about Sacha Baron Cohen‘s “The Dictator” concerns that palace seen in the movie. Is that a real place, and if so, where is it?

The answer is “yes” and “no”. It is a real place – although not a palace. And a lot of computer generated graphics have used to embellish that real building, re-configure it, and move it to the fictional desert kingdom of Wadiya.

Plaza de Espana (From Wikipedia)

The main building is the exquisite Plaza de Espana in Sevilla, the capital of Andalucia – an autonomous region within Spain. The sprawling plaza was built in 1928 and 1929 for the Iberi0-American Exposition and World’s Fair in Sevilla.

Although it certainly looks palatial, it has never been used as a palace – or any kind of residence, royal or otherwise. Today, it houses government offices and Sevilla’s town hall. It was originally built as a showcase for Iberian peninsula science and industry exhibits.

In “The Dictator” computer graphics were used to add the twin golden domes, either side of the main building – the balcony of which was used for scenes such as speeches and the wedding. Long wings of offices that grace the actual building – that make it stretch for more than a city block – were also trimmed for the movie. (A short clip of the filming of the movie in Plaza de Espana can be seen here.)

Parque de Maria Luisa (Visit Spain)

Also worthy of note: The Plaza de Espana is located – not in a sandy desert – but in a lush park, the Parque de Maria Luisa, in the heart of Sevilla.

Is this the first time Plaza de Espana has appeared in a film? No, it was used as “Naboo” in 2002’s “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and as a Cairo hotel and a palace in Damascus for the epic “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962.

Jerry Garrett

May 22, 2012


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