15 'Star Wars' Movie Locations You Can Actually Visit
Most of the Star Wars saga was filmed on various sets and soundstages, but occasionally, the people at Lucasfilm traveled to locations around the world in order to bring the "galaxy far, far away” to life. Here are 15 Star Wars movie locations you can actually visit.
1. DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK // CALIFORNIA
George Lucas used Death Valley National Park for pickup shots after shooting in Tunisia for A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. The area between Sierra Nevada and the Mojave Desert, along with Tunisia, were used to make the desert planet of Tatooine come to life, most notably in the scene when Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) meets Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), C-3PO, and R2-D2 for the first time. For Return of the Jedi, Twenty Mule Team Canyon in Death Valley was used to film the scene in which C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) travel to Jabba's Palace.
2. HARDANGERJØKULEN GLACIER // NORWAY
The snowy opening battle scene on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back was filmed on the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, the sixth largest in Norway. The small railroad town of Finse sits at the foot of Hardangerjøkulen.
3. FINSE // NORWAY
Finse, Norway, which is located between Oslo and Bergen, was used as the Rebel Alliance’s Echo Base on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. While shooting in 1979, a snowstorm hit the small town, allowing director Irvin Kershner to shoot two key scenes: Luke Skywalker's escape from the Wampa cave, as well as the young hero's interaction with the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi before he is rescued by Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Both scenes were shot just outside of the Finse 1222 Hotel.
4. GRINDELWALD // SWITZERLAND
Most of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were shot at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney using Chroma key (green screen) technology. However, creator George Lucas would occasionally send crews out to capture scenery in various locations around the world for the plate photography used in background shots.
One of the real-life places shot for Revenge of the Sith was the beautiful mountain range ofGrindelwald, Switzerland, which was used as the backdrop for the planet Alderaan, Princess Leia’s homeworld.
5. AJIM // TUNISIA
George Lucas used various locations around Tunisia to film exteriors for the desert planet Tatooine, most notably the ferry port town of Ajim. The town was used for the exteriors of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s home, which was actually an old mosque, and the Mos Eisley Spaceport in A New Hope.
6. THE HÔTEL SIDI DRISS // MATMATA, TUNISIA
The Hôtel Sidi Driss in Matmata, Tunisia was used as the Lars homestead (Luke Skywalker’s childhood home) in A New Hope. The hotel consists of five pits, four reserved for lodging and sleeping, while one has been dubbed the “Star Wars pit.” Guests can dine in the Lars family dining room, now the hotel’s restaurant. The set dressings were removed after filming in 1976, but returned in the year 2000 in order to film scenes for Attack of the Clones. Ever since, the decorations have remained. Fittingly, the hotel’s nickname is the "Star Wars hotel."
7. TIKAL // GUATEMALA
In A New Hope, George Lucas used ancient Mayan ruins, located in Guatemala's Tikal National Park, as the exterior of the Rebel Alliance’s Massassi outpost on the fourth moon of Yavin. Lucas picked the location after he saw it on a poster at a travel agency when he was filming in London, England.
8. YUMA DESERT // ARIZONA
Instead of returning to Tunisia, Lucasfilm filmmakers and producers picked Buttercup Valley in the Yuma Desert to shoot the Sarlacc Pit sequence in Return of the Jedi. Jabba's Sail Barge and Sarlacc Pit took more than five months to build, and more than 5,500 cast and crew members lodged in Yuma, Arizona during filming in 1982.
9. THE VILLA DEL BALBAINELLO // LENNO, ITALY
The Lake Retreat where Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) go into hiding in Attack of the Clones is located at the Villa del Balbainello in Lenno, Italy. Originally built in 1787, the villa overlooks Lake Cuomo and served as a monastery before it was turned over to the National Trust of Italy in 1988. Villa del Balbainello makes another appearance at the end of Attack of the Clones as the location for Anakin and Padme’s wedding.
10. PALACE OF CASERTA // CASERTA, ITALY
The Palace of Caserta in southern Italy, just northeast of Napoli, was used to shoot the interiors of the Theed Royal Palace on Naboo in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Originally built for Bourbon King Charles III in the 1750s, the Palace of Caserta is also the largest royal palace in Italy.
11. PHANG NGA BAY // PHUKET, THAILAND
The beautiful island backdrop of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand was used as plate photography for the planet Kashyyyk, Chewbacca’s birthplace, in Revenge of the Sith. For certain scenes, shots of Guilin, China were combined with Phang Nga Bay.
12. REDWOOD NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS // CALIFORNIA
The filmmakers of Return of the Jedi used Redwood National and State Parks to portray the Forest Moon of Endor, the Ewoks’ homeworld. Several scenes, such as the Speeder Bike Chase and the Ewok Ambush, were shot in the parks’ many redwood groves in Marin County, which is near George Lucas’ home at Skywalker Ranch.
13. WHIPPENDELL WOODS // UNITED KINGDOM
George Lucas used the Whippendell Woods in two scenes in The Phantom Menace. In the first, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) meet Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best); the other features the Woods as a sacred place for the Jar-Jar Binks' kind, the Gungans.
14. SEVILLE // SPAIN
The beautiful Plaza de España in Seville, Spain was used for the exterior of Theed on Naboo inAttack of the Clones. Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala walk through the plaza before the pair go into hiding in the Lake Country.
15. MOUNT ETNA // SICILY
Although Lucas actually didn’t shoot on Mount Etna, his team used Italy’s most active volcano for plate photography for the epic lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Mount Etna was actually erupting during filming, so Lucas sent a film crew to capture its flowing lava.