A grandfather house in Cantabria

April 16, 2017

While we were in Cantabria, we heard a Heidi trilogy was being filmed locally. Based on the book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, Heidi: Queen of the Mountain is said to feature Bill Nighy, Helen Baxendale, Mark Williams and Olivia Grant with newcomer Samantha Allinson playing Heidi. It was reported Mogrovejo, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, would represent the fictional Swiss village of Dörfli with the grandfather house situated near the village of Pendes.

Mogrovejo is listed as somewhere with both historical and cultural significance with many of the buildings there dating back to the 16th century. It’s a wonderful village surrounded by mountains and we pretty much explored every inch of it. The film crew had left a few weeks before we arrived but that didn’t stop us going on the hunt for the grandfather house. With the film due for release this year, it would have been a shame to be in the area and not see it. Interestingly, it’s reported the rustic villages and emerald green hills are what led to Cantabria being the filming location. It beat 20 countries including Switzerland, where the Heidi novels are set, along with Austria, Slovenia, Germany and the UK along with other Spanish locations like Asturias, Andalucía and the Pyrénees. 

We came across the grandfather house purely by accident having already taken a wander through Pendes. On leaving there, we came across a couple of cars seemingly parked randomly by the side of the road. In actual fact, they’d stopped so they could head through the fields down to the grandfather house. It’s not difficult to get to and while the thistle-like ground was especially prickly in sandals, we only had to walk a few minutes before seeing the house. We had hoped we’d be able to have a look inside but with filming finished for now, the house was protected with a security fence. There was little in the area at all except for rolling hills and a few animals, exactly what you’d expect to see in a Heidi film.

Initially we thought the house might have already existed but it became apparent it had been constructed especially for the film. Given the first film is being released this year, we anticipated it was being protected as it would be used again at a later date. It’s an amazing spot and the scenery in the area is just stunning. We realised while we were there too that we could see the village of Trillayo, where we were staying, and Potes as well. It was a couple of days before I made the connection taking in the view the other way.

Just before we returned to the UK, I took some more photographs of the spectacular view from our 200 year cottage (shown on the right below). We’d always been able to see the village of Colio in the distance but on that particular day, I noticed a house seemingly set on it’s own in the mountains. On zooming in, I discovered it was none other than the grandfather house. We’d been looking directly at it the entire time we’d been in Northern Spain! What a turn up for the books that was. The Liebana region is stunning and I for one cannot wait to see how the forthcoming Heidi: Queen of the Mountains film portrays it.

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