Star Wars Day: Visit These Sites Made Famous by the Films

Skellig Michael Ireland
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May the fourth be with you! As many sci-fi fans know, May 4 is Star Wars Day (just because of the pun). However, if you or your clients are huge fans of the show (and if you’re not, you should be!), here’s a selection of filming locations made famous in the Star Wars universe.

Caserta, Italy

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The Royal Palace of Caserta is a former royal residence in Southern Italy, constructed for Charles VII of Naples. It’s one of the largest palaces in all of Europe (in terms of volume, it’s the largest royal resident in the world) and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the '90s.

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It was used as the site for the Theed Royal Palace on the planet of Naboo in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones.

Bonus: Afterwards, visit Villa del Balbianello, located on Lake Como. It was the setting for Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala’s secret wedding. Or, for an additional “taste” of Theed, visit the Plaza de España in Seville, Spain; it provided exterior shots for the city of Theed.

Djerba, Tunisia

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The deserts of Tunisia provided the backdrop for numerous Star Wars scenes—most notably Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine (first seen in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, and appears in all Episodes from I through VI, except for Episode V). For the original 1977 film, the crew erected nearly an entire town (Mos Eisley) just outside of Ajim, a commune and port that’s home to roughly 25,000 people. When filming ended, the crew left the set and most of it remains in ruin.

Ksar Hadada, Onk Jemal, Matmata and Shubiel Gorge—all located in Tunisia—also served as filming sites. Here, travelers can see where Mos Espa, the lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul, and R2-D2 being abducted by the Jawas were filmed. As many of the films visit the planet of Tatooine, the set returned to Tunisia very often.

Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Norway

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The glacier—the sixth-largest in mainland Norway—is most easily accessed from the village of Finse (just under five hours by train from Oslo). As its highest, it’s 6,112 feet above sea level.

The glacier was the filming location of the ice planet Hoth. For the full experience of the battle between the Rebels and the Empire, with its AT-ATs, go during winter. As you can tell, it's not as icy as it once was. 

Del Norte County, California

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redwood forest in Del Norte County, located—as its name implies—in the far northwest corner of California. Filming was set near Smith River on private land, and it was used for scenes in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. The forest was the perfect “primitive” setting for the forest moon of Endor, where Luke, Han Solo and Princess Leia encountered the Ewoks, a small, Teddy bear-esque species.

One caveat here is that the landowners used the old-growth trees for logging, so the exact setting looks significantly different than it did in 1983. The surrounding forest will still get the job done, however, or for another substitute, check out Redwood National and State Parks, located about 45 miles further south.

Derwentwater and Thirlmere, Cumbria, UK

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Derwentwater and Thirlmere are both bodies of water located in England’s Lake District. The former occupies part of Borrowdale and lies just south of the town of Keswick; the latter is located in the Borough of Allerdale. The two bodies of water and their surrounding areas were featured in Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, as the location for Takodana.

Takodana is the planet in which Maz Kanata lives. Han Solo, Rey and Finn seek out Maz, who then takes particular interest in Rey. In these scenes, Rey is united with Luke Skywalker’s former lightsaber, and she is abducted by Kylo Ren. Despite being the location of the recently released Episode VII, it’s proven to be a popular scene among fans.

Skellig Michael, Ireland

Skellig Michael Ireland

Photo by Cristina Avincola/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images    

The larger of the two Skellig Islands, located off Ireland’s southwest coast, made a brief appearance in Episode VII but had a larger impact on Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi.

A Gaelic Christian monastery was founded on the island sometime between the sixth and eighth century and remained continuously occupied until the 12th century. The remains of the monastery, and most of the island, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Skellig Michael is the location where Luke Skywalker went into hiding after failing in his training of Kylo Ren; he was then discovered by Rey in the final scene of Episode VII. Throughout much of the following film, Luke trains Rey at various parts of the island. Note: It’s become an extremely popular tourist destination in the wake of the film and its sustainability is in question.

Laamu Atoll, Maldives

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The Laamu Atoll makes up 82 of the 1,000-plus islands that comprise the Maldives. Its capital it located on Fanadhoo Island. Fans of the standalone film Rogue One will recognize the atoll's Gan, which is one of the Maldives' largest islands, as the planet Scarif.

Scarif was the location of the final scene in Rogue One as the a top-secret research base for the Imperial Senate. Rebels, including Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, had to break in to steal the plans for the Death Star, which would help save the Rebellion.

Bonus: For Rogue One fans, Wadi Rum, Jordan and Reynisfjara, Iceland were the filming locations for the planets of Jedha and Eadu, respectively.

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