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Exploring a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Star Wars Filming Locations Around the World
Since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, Star Wars has never been far from the centre of current pop-culture. This means that the fantastic worlds that Star Wars shows on screen dominate many people’s imaginations. And when you have a movie that dominates your imagination, you probably wish you could explore its worlds for yourself.
Well, luckily, despite the fact that Star Wars takes place in a fictional galaxy far, far away, it’s filmed here on Planet Earth, meaning you can visit some of the fantastic spots of its fictional world. And seeing as today is May the Fourth and Disney added the last movie in the series, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, to Disney+ in order to take our minds off the current crisis, we thought we’d share this list of tar Wars filming locations across the globe.
As you can see from this list, the Star Wars movies have shot all around the world. While most of the movies were shot in studios in the United Kingdom, the producers did take advantage of real locations wherever they could, incorporating our natural world into the galaxy far, far away.
Where were the Star Wars movies filmed?
Star Wars filming locations in Africa and the Middle East
Both Rogue One and The Rise of Skywalker shot in and around Wadi Rum, Jordan’s most famous natural landmark. In Rogue One, Wadi Rum is used for exterior shots of the sacred planet of Jedha, where Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor search for Saw Gerrera before the Empire destroys much of the planet with a Death Star test. In The Rise of Skywalker, the valley is a stand-in for the Forbidden Valley of Pasaana, the desert where Rey, Finn, and Poe go in search of a lost Sith wayfinder and end up meeting Lando Calrissian.
In the original movie, A New Hope, Luke Skywalker is living on the moisture farm of his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. The interiors of the farm in both A New Hope and Attack of the Clones were shot at the fascinating Berber homes of Matmata, particularly the Hotel Sidi Driss, which is still around today. Not far to the southeast of Matmata, you’ll find Ksar Hadada and Ksar Ouled Soltane, which were the exteriors for the Mos Espa slave homes where Anakin Skywalker lives in The Phantom Menace
United Arab Emirates
The Rub’ al Khali Desert outside of Abu Dhabi was the shooting location for scenes on the planet Jakku in The Force Awakens, where the protagonist Rey is found at the beginning of the movie. Sets were constructed around the desert, so while you won’t find the Jakku marketplace or the scrap heap where the Millennium Falcon is grounded, you will find plenty of sand dunes and reddish stretches of earth.
Star Wars filming locations in Europe
While Croatia is better known for its association with Game of Thrones, the historical streets of Dubrovnik were used to play the opulent avenues of the casino planet Canto Bight in The Last Jedi, particularly in the scene when Finn and Rose free the fathiers and end up racing down the main streets of the city in order to escape the police.
Ever the popular shooting location, Iceland was used for scenes in both The Force Awakens and Rogue One. In The Force Awakens, exterior scenes of Han Solo, Chewie, and Finn crossing the snowy surface of Starkiller Base were shot on the glacier of Eyjafjallajokull, the country’s infamous volcano that shut down air traffic around Europe in 2010. The opening scene of Rogue One finds the villain Director Krennic hunting down Jyn’s father, Galen, on the rugged, black rock planet of Lah’mu. Thus, the scene was obviously shot along the famous black sand beach of Reynisfjara on the south coast. As well, the landscape around Lake Myvatn was used for exterior shots of the rainy planet Eadu, where Galen’s research base is located midway through the film.
In The Force Awakens, Rey follows a map across the galaxy to find Luke Skywalker hiding out on the planet of Ahch-To, home of the original Jedi temple. The movie ends with Rey finding Luke on the rocky cliffs of a small island and offering him his father’s lightsaber. The enormous popularity of the movie and this cliffhanger ending made the small island of Skellig Michael world famous. They used the island as the filming location again in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, requiring a small film crew to lug all the equipment up the ancient steps for each day of shooting, careful to respect the island’s Gaellic monasteries that were built between the 6th to 8th centuries.
The Renaissance palaces and sunny lakes of Italy were used for the picturesque locations of Naboo in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. In The Phantom Menace, the Palace of Caserta was used for interior shots of the Naboo Royal Palace in Theed. In Attack of the Clones, the Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como was used as Padmé’s family home in the lake region of Naboo and the site of Anakin and Padmé’s wedding at the end of the film.
To shoot the snowy landscapes of the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, the film crew went to the town of Finse in Northern Norway and shot on the showdrifts of Hardangerjokulen. Hilariously, the key scene of Luke Skywalker escaping the Wampa lair and collapsing on the snowdrift was shot just outside the backdoor of the crew hotel in Finse, since a massive blizzard blanketed the town while they were filming.
Similar to Italy, Spain’s historical palaces were used for scenes taking place on Naboo. In Attack of the Clones, the Plaza de Espana in Seville (which is also featured in Lawrence of Arabia) serves as the exterior of Theed Royal Palace after Anakin and Padmé visit the Naboo government. As well, the coastal stretches of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands were used as the colony on Savareen during the climax of Solo, where Han Solo and Tobias Beckett arrive to refine the unstable coaxium they stole from Kessel.
Since the Star Wars movies were shot at studios located in the United Kingdom, various locations around the country were used to fill in the gaps of scenes throughout the movies. For instance, Whippendell Wood north of London was used for a Naboo forest scene in The Phantom Menace, while the ancient forest of Puzzlewood in Gloucestershire was used for the forest of Takodana in The Force Awakens, where Kylo Ren abducts Rey. The movies also took advantage of airship hangars, using the RAF Cardington WWII hangars in Bedfordshire for the rebel base on Yavin IV in A New Hope and the RAF Greenham Common hangars in Berkshire as the Resistance Base on D’Qar in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Canary Wharf station of the London Underground was also used as the interior of the Scarif base that Jyn and Cassian infiltrated during the climax of Rogue One.
Star Wars filming locations in Asia
The film crew used the picturesque beaches of Laamu Atoll in the Maldives as the setting for the beachside battle on the planet Scarif at the climax of Rogue One. While the presence of the Imperial base was provided in post production through digital manipulation and through intercutting with shots of studio sets in England, the beaches and clear waters were key to capturing Scarif’s tropical atmosphere.
Star Wars filming locations in Central and South America
The world’s largest salt flats in Uyuni were transformed into the salt planet of Crait during the climax of The Last Jedi. The film crew shot exteriors for the final battle with the First Order here, as well as used some of the local animals, such as the culpeo, as inspiration for the crystal critters that live on Crait.
You shouldn’t need any addition encouragement to explore the fascinating Maya ruins of Tikal in Guatemala, but if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll surely be entertained by the fact that this UNESCO World Heritage Site was cast as the Massassi ruins and Rebel base on Yavin IV in A New Hope.
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