15 Star Wars Film Locaions You Can Actually Visit
Star Wars is an iconic piece of American and cinematic history. A staple in the Sci-Fi genre, Star Wars fans have created a subculture of their own. Famous characters like Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader continue to be referenced in modern pop culture. With the upcoming release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Star Wars fans have something to get excited about. Thought the film is said to take place in a galaxy far, far away, some of the actual filming took place here on earth. Though there was plenty of studio filming and computer generated graphics, filmmakers still made trips out to real-world locations. Here are some of the film location you can actually visit.
Ajim Tunisia has been a major filming location throughout the Star Wars franchise, especially for scenes on the fictional planet Tatooine. The port of Ajim on the southern side of the island of Djerba, Tunisia, is where the outside of Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina and Ben Kenobi’s hut was in the film. The place used was originally and still is an old fisherman’s hut.
Caserta Palace A little known town, Caserta, which is just northeast of Napoli, boasts the largest royal palace in Italy. It was originally built for the Bourbon kings of Naples in the 18th century. The Royal Palace of Caserta is the largest royal residence in the world. The 1,000 plus room palace was made into the Theed Royal Palace in Episodes I & II.
Death Valley Death Valley, California, was not an original destination for the film crew to shoot. Death Valley made it into Star Wars because A New Hope went over budget and the team couldn’t afford to return to Tunisia, their original desired filming location. Death Valley was the filming location when R2-D2 was speeding away in search of Ben Kenobi’s hut.
Hardangerjøkulen Glacier The massive Hardangerjøkulen glacier is the sixth largest glacier in Norway. It was used during the filming of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The glacier was the perfect place to shoot scenes and battles from ice planet Hoth. The glacier is only accessible by stopping at Finse Station on the Bergensbanen railway line. In the winter the highest point can be accessed from Finse using only skis.
Mount Etna Mount Etna is Europe’s most active volcano. It was used to capture plate photography which became the background for the epic light saber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on the planet Mustafar. Mount Etna erupted during filming at which point George Lucas sent crews to film the lava flows. Mount Etna is located on the east of Sicily, Italy.
Chott El Djerid Chott El Djeris is a dried salt lake in southwestern Tunisia. It is more than 10 meters below sea level. Chott El Djerid featured the Lars family moisture farm and home where Luke Skywalker was raised by Owen and Beru Lars. The lake can be crossed by foot and even by car, but this is very dangerous since the salt crust is not always firm. During winter, when the lake is full, it can be crossed by boat.
Hotel Sidi Driss Hôtel Sidi Driss served as the inside of the Lars family home. Located in Matmata, Tunisia, the hotel is a traditional-style Berber house built hundreds of years ago. After the filming of the first movie, A New Hope, the decorations were taken down, only to be completely rebuilt in 2000 for the filming of Attack of the Clones. The hotel is open all year and the decorations are still intact. There are five pits in the hotel, four of them with rooms; the fifth one, the Star Wars pit, is the hotel’s restaurant.
Plaza de España Spain’s gorgeous Plaza de España in Seville was shot for the arrival of Anakin and Padmé Amidala on Naboo. Plaza de España is located in the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park). It was built in 1928. It was built to showcase Spain’s industry and technology exhibits during the Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair. It now serves as government buildings.
Grindelwald Grindelwald is a small Swiss mountain village. It is surrounded by mountains and is over 1,000 feet above sea level. It is a tourist friendly town with numerous ski lifts, cable cars, hiking trails and alpine huts for visitors to enjoy. Grindelwald was never actually filmed but did serve as the scene for a variety of photographs which later played into the backdrop of planet Alderaan, home of Princess Leia.
Guilin Guilin sits on the west bank of the Li River in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. Its name means, “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus,” due to the large amount of osmanthus trees in the area. It is one of China’s most popular tourist destinations. Like Grindelwald, Guilin was not actually filmed for Star Wars but did serve as the location for plate photographs which eventually were turned into parts of planet Kashyyyk, home to the Wookiees.
Nefta In Tunisia, just north of Chott el Djerid and close to the Algerian border is the town of Nefta. A religious town Nefta, is a pilgrimage center to which pilgrims travel throughout the year for the Date and Folk festivals. It is the largest sand dune in the area and was chosen to be the area for the scene of the famous R2-D2 and C-3PO crash landing from Star Wars: Episode IV.
Finse Finse is a mountain village area on the shore of the lake Finsevatnet in Norway. Finse was Echo Base, the Rebel Alliance’s base during the Battle of Hoth. Fans of the Star Wars franchise can visit Finse anytime. Take the famous Bergensbanen railway line to get there. Stop off between Oslo and Bergen to see the site. It’s also the highest station on the Norwegian rail system.
Ksar Hadada Ksar Hadada sounds like it could really be a place in the Star Wars universe. It is actually the Meghrebi dialect, spoken mostly in north Africa. Ksar is the Arabic’s term for a castle. Located in central Tunisia, Ksar Hadada was filmed as the Slave Quarters of Mos Espa in The Phantom Menace.
Yuma Desert The Yuma Desert, located along the western border of the United States and Mexico, featured the Great Pit of Carkoon. The famous scene from Return of the Jedi of a ferocious beast called a sarlacc trying to eat Luke, Han Solo, and Chewbacca was filmed in the Yuma Desert. There is scarce vegetation here which means there aren’t many inhabitants either.
Greenham Common Here is one to get the Star Wars fans drooling. Greenham Common in England is a location for the new Star Wars film that is currently in production. Greenham is a royal air force base that was opened in 1942. It was designated as public park land in 1997. With the next Star Wars film being kept under tight wraps, we’re not entirely sure what will happen at this location. What is known is that multiple constructions of star crafts have been seen here so far.