Though the students on Elite are only teenagers, they've dealt with more drama and tragedy in their high school tenure than most seasoned adults go through in a lifetime. The Spanish drama, which first debuted on Netflix in 2018, centers around an ensemble group of wealthy students and a few of their classmates, who are on scholarship, at the prestigious Las Encinas secondary school.
In addition to going through their first heartbreaks, exams, and general growing pains, the characters on Elite are also grappling with a different death and murder investigation on each season.
While many would kill to thrive at the exclusive school (and a few have), it's evident that Las Encinas isn't always a safe place to be. Thankfully for viewers, the educational institution isn't actually a real place. Keep reading to find out where the show takes place, and to learn where it actually films.
Where does 'Elite' take place?
Though it's clear that the school in Elite is located in Spain, the characters never identify which city or region they live in. The only clue that viewers get is that the school is located near the mountains.
However, many viewers have pointed out that the school itself has a very American feel.
"One thing that I found very interesting is that after the release of the first season, I read a couple of comments from people saying that the show presented a very 'Americanized' reality, with the posh uniforms, the lockers in the corridors, the school dance at the end of the school year, the trophy... things that admittedly are not very common in Spain," Carlos Montero, one of the Elite showrunners, said to Entertainment Weekly in 2019.
"But that came all from our research — it's not that we were trying to be American, it's that some very posh schools in Spain are doing things the American way because parents and students have all seen those U.S. movies and TV shows and that is their idea of a 'cool' education. It's their way of attracting customers/students, almost as if the brochure for the schools had a 'As seen on TV' sticker in it," he added.
"A lot of things 'American' about our show are in there because, in Spain, we also take a lot of things from American culture in our everyday lives," Carlos concluded.
Viewers can, therefore, use their imaginations to determine where the events on the show take place.
Where is 'Elite' actually filmed?
Many of the scenes in Elite do take place at Las Encinas, which closely resembles the interior of a real high school. However, the cast and crew aren't actually filming on location at a real Spanish secondary school. Instead, those classroom and hallway scenes are shot on a set in Madrid.
The rest of the show largely takes place within the homes of the students. Those scenes are also generally shot on sets in Madrid.
In July of 2018, less than three months before Season 1 launched, Netflix established a large production facility about 20 minutes north of Madrid to serve as a hub for Spanish-language shows. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the campus included three 13,000 square foot sounstages.
Netflix took control of the facility in September of 2018, but it's unclear just how much the show utilized those soundstages.
According to Variety, a lot of the outdoor scenes in Season 1 of Elite were filmed in Guadarrama, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, and Collado Villalba, which are small towns outside of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range.
The exterior shots of the school may look familiar to locals in Madrid. The crew reportedly uses the facade of the European University of Madrid for the outside of Las Encinas.
The first four seasons of Elite are available to stream on Netflix now.