Curbed National: The Real Sites That Inspired Netflix’s Drug Lord Drama Narcos

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A photo of Hacienda Napoles, the massive ranch Pablo Escobar built during his reign as one of the wealthiest criminals in the world. Photo via Las2Orillas.

One of Netflix’s newest original series, Narcos, gives a Goodfellas treatment to the story of Pablo Escobar, the infamous leader of the Medellín drug cartel who at one point supplied 80 percent of the world’s cocaine (that’s 15 tons per day to the US alone). While numerous books, miniseries, and movies have documented, sensationalized, and retold the story of history’s wealthiest criminal, Narcos went to serious lengths in an attempt for authenticity, filming on location in many sites in Colombia (though the accent of the Brazilian actor playing Escobar could be improved). The first season begins with a message about magical realism, the surrealistic literary style of authors such as Gabriel García Márquez, and adds that “there’s a reason magical realism was born in Colombia.” On a similar note, there’s a reason the Escobar story is so captivating; fact is often as incredible, or more so, than fiction. No places bear that out more than the residences the multibillion-dollar drug boss constructed for himself, his friends, and his family. Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles and La Catedral prison complex symbolized not just unimaginable wealth, but unchecked power.

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