It's fair to say that Star Wars is a series that changed the world. George Lucas, its mastermind, has been hailed as one of the most creatively brilliant men in the sci-fi genre. The rarity is finding someone who has never seen these movies which is usually quickly remedied by a fan who is eager to share the galactic love. Interstellar fanfare might not be everyone's bag, and it is true that many of the earlier movies are cheesy yet fun, there's no denying that this storyline set the bar for the entire sci-fi community.
While it's easy enough to go on about various side stories, fan theories, individual character traits, etc., that's not what this article will be focusing on. We're here for the behind-the-scenes action, the fun facts, and the process it took to get the incredible shots that fans witness on the big screen. What we want are the locations, the weather conditions of said locations, and the stories about what it took to film there. We want details! It's time to take a look into what went on off-screen and where some of the most iconic scenes were filmed around the world. Read on for some of the coolest filming locations Star Wars ever took on.
25 Ghoumrassen, Tunisia: Slave Quarters, Episode I
Many will recognize this desert location as the scene that was set for the Mos Espa's Slave Quarters in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Interestingly enough, the area looks very much like it does in the movie, consisting of nothing other than desert sands and stone buildings. The population is just over 1,200 people and is relatively remote, surrounded by mountains. The village in Goumrassen is home to a valley and fossils have been found near and around the area, making it a site of archeological interest.
24 Palace of Caserta, Italy: Naboo Royal Palace, Episodes I & II
The Royal Palace of Caserta was the set for the Naboo Royal Palace, seen in both Episodes I and II. The palace itself has quite a long history, beginning in the 18th century. Its purpose was to house the Spanish royal family and is hailed as the largest royal palace in the world. It's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and both the palace as well as exterior grounds are protected. With five floors and 1,200 rooms, it served as the perfect location for both camera crew and actors as well as a great place to get lost. Rose Red, anyone?
23 Cassiobury Park, United Kingdom: Naboo Forest Scene, Episode I
In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet Jar Jar Binks in a wooded area. This wooded area is, in fact, Whippendell Woods, which is part of Cassiobury Park in the United Kingdom. While the scene appears to be somewhere isolated and rugged, it's actually part of a beautiful 190-acre park that was claimed in 1909. The land has since been protected and Star Wars is not the first to use it as a filming location. Due to its close proximity to several popular England film studios.
22 Plaza de España, Spain: City Of Theed, Episode II
The Star Wars franchise has made it no secret when choosing their filming locations, as the Plaza de España is a very public location in Spain for both tourists and residents alike. It was built in 1929 in the Regionalism architectural style. The park itself is vast and expansive and even once held Ibero-American Exposition World's Fair. It was originally intended to display both Spain's expansion in technology, adding to its grand elegance. Featured are various artistic renditions, stunning architectural designs, and various pillars and arches to add visual interest.
21 Villa del Balbianellom Italy: Lakeside In Naboo, Episode II
In Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Anakin and Padmé are to get married. Their wedding is held at a gorgeous lakeside villa which is actually the Villa del Balbianellom on Lake Como. Complete with ivy-covered walls and gardens, this villa has had a long history of owners and purposes, including a Franciscan monastery. While its interior and mountainous views are absolutely breathtaking, the interior was digitally altered for the films. For inside shots, the producers resorted to computer-generated backgrounds in order to match the inside of the villa to the concept of the film.
20 Phang Nga Bay, Thailand: Kashyyyk, Episode III
Phang Nga Bay has been the destination of many a tourist over the last few years with its calm waters and stunning scenery. What many don't realize is that this was actually the setting for planet Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith. Surprisingly, while the bay and land layout itself was used, the location was altered slightly in order to look a bit more extraterrestrial. To incorporate a unique twist on the setting, superimposed footage from the limestone karst mountains was added prior to the battle of Kashyyyk scene.
19 Guilin, China: Kashyyyk Backdrop, Episode III
Similar to Phang Nga Bay, this amazing location was altered with a composited backdrop from the same limestone karst mountains. The city of Guilin is rather large, with both urban areas as well as rural lakeside villages. The karst mountains settle just beyond the city limits and the city itself is well-known for being a tourist hot spot. The area itself spans for roughly 10,737 square miles which left the camera crew plenty of space to film on-location. The river that's so prevalent is the Li River, which runs through the entirety of Guilin.
18 Mount Etna, Italy: Mustafar, Episode III
This film location comes with a rather fascinating story, as the volcano actually erupted while filming Episode III. The film crew for the movie was sent by Lucas Films to record the eruption which was then used in the background of several shots. Once of which -- the most iconic -- was the battle scene between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar. The volcano has seen nine major eruptions over the last 20th century and this one, in particular, can be seen most clearly toward the end of the fight as lava spews up, surrounding the two.
17 Grindelwald, Switzerland: Alderaan, Episode III
Switzerland has been hailed as one of the most beautiful mountainous regions in the world, consisting of towering domes and breathtaking snow-covered peaks. While it is a popular tourist destination, various areas of the country have also been committed to film -- Specifically, Revenge of the Sith. Grindelwald, in particular, is a wintery town set in the valley between peaks. It's here that several shots of the Swiss Alps were taken and used in the film, serving as the premise for the location of Alderaan.
16 La Grande Dune, Tunisia: Tatooine desert, Episode IV
Tunisia has seen its fair share of Star Wars filming, as its desert landscape in all its untouched perfection has been used as the basis for many a scene. La Grand Dune in Nefta served quite a large role in Episode IV of the series. While the scene wasn't as iconic of many others nor was it very long, the dune served as the landing place for C-3PO and R2-D2 in their escape pod. The name of this location in the film was the Tatooine Desert.
15 Tikal, Guatemala: Yavin IV Rebel Base, Episode IV
Now, for something completely different. Rather than the dry, hot deserts of Tunisia, the Yavin IV Rebel Base was actually filmed in Guatemala. This ancient city served to be the perfect location, filled with archeological history dating back to a pre-Maya civilization era. The architecture that can be seen throughout the area dates back to the 4th century BC and it also served as one of the most powerful kingdoms during Mayan times. Today, the land is protected via UNESCO as it has since been declared a World Heritage Site.
14 Death Valley National Park, USA: Tatooine Desert, Episode IV
Surprise! The Tatooine Desert was actually comprised of several desert locations, not just those in Tunisia. This one is a bit closer to home, as Death Valley National Park served as the setting for five different scenes in Episode IV. Some scenes were spliced with shots from Tunisia while others were solely based on the valley and surrounding mountain range. Its otherworldly appearance and lack of seemingly any life was more than appropriate for filming Tatooine Desert scenes. The hottest recorded temperature in the valley was 134-degrees while the record low was 15-degrees Fahrenheit.
13 Island of Djerba, Tunisia: Mos Eisley Spaceport, Episode IV
For this one, we're heading back to Tunisia. If you're a proud owner of the special edition of this film, you'll likely recognize this extra scene of Mos Eisley as Luke Skywalker speeds toward it. This shot was filmed in Sidi Jemour which is on the island of Djerba. While it stands in stark contrast to the deserts we're so familiar with in Tunisia, it's also quite populated. Rumor has it that this island was also the mystery location of the lotus-eaters from the age-old tale of Odysseus.
12 Sidi Bouhlel, Tunisia: Tatooine canyon, Episode IV
The more these locations are researched, the more fascinating a place Tunisia becomes. Not only does its topography include deserts and islands, but canyons are also one of its distinctive land features. Four notable scenes from Episode IV were filmed at the Shubiel Gorge, including R2-D2 being abducted by Jawa, the location of the wrecked Sandcrawler, and serves as the location where Luke Skywalker was attacked by Tusken Raiders. Additionally, this served as the location for some footage in The Phantom Menace as well.
11 Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Norway: Hoth, Episode V
There is not much that's off-limits when it comes to Star Wars filming locations. From active volcanoes to glaciers, the scenes have it all -- this one, in particular, boasting the latter. Hardangerjøkulen Glacier is the sixth largest in Norway and also serves as the highest point in Hordaland County at 6,112-feet above sea level. Its ice cap's thickest measurement was roughly 1,250-feet thick but has since begun shrinking. All scenes of planet Hoth were filmed here excluding battle scenes, which were put together by using miniature sets, microscopic glass bubbles, and a little baking soda.
10 Yuma Desert, USA: Tatooine Exteriors, Episode VI
Buttercup Valley is the specific location that was used to film the exteriors of the Tatooine Desert in Episode VI. Along with Death Valley, the Yuma Desert is also located in the US and was spliced together with additional footage to create an atmosphere. This exact location was used when filming the scene that took place in the Great Pit of Carkoon. Additionally, in A New Hope, the scene where stormtroopers find droid evidence was combined with footage taken at La Grande Dune.
9 Del Norte County, USA: Endor, Episode VI
Anyone who has ever visited the northwestern coast of the US is likely well-aware of how beautiful it can be. Filled with views varying in elevation, classic Pacific coast scenery, and densely wooded forests, it's no wonder Del Norte County was chosen as the filming location for Endor. In Episode VI, the forest scenes that were filmed on this moon were, in fact, shot in the woods of Del Norte County, California. The area is most well-known for its collection of giant Redwoods which can tower as high as 350 feet.
8 Cumbria, United Kingdom: Takodana, Episode VII
Cumbria is a county that's located in the northwestern part of the United Kingdom. It's known notably for its Neolithic-era history which can be seen in its stone henges, the most popular being the Castlerigg stone circle, which was supposedly built by Cumbria's earliest inhabitants. This history-rich soil was also the setting for Takodana, specifically Maz Kanata's castle. The Lakeland Fells that can be noted in the background were digitally altered but filmed in the same location.
7 Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland: Starkiller Base, Episode VII
Rather than digitally alter the setting of a snow-covered planet, the producers decided there was no harm in filming on an actual snow cap... A snow cap that also happened to be a (very) active volcano. The summit of Eyjafjallajökull reaches 5,417-feet above sea level and is only one of a chain of volcanoes that spans across Iceland. While the setting is entirely breathtaking, the volcanic activity in the area is some to be wary of, as its last eruption was in 2010. However, it was used to shoot many snow scenes of the Starkiller Base in Episode VII.
6 Canary Wharf, United Kingdom: Imperial Base, Rogue One
The futuristic look of Canary Wharf suited the Star Wars franchise perfectly and fans didn't hesitate to point out its familiar appearance in Rogue One trailers. Most notable from the film are its escalators and safety doors which have a unique appearance due to their Norman-Foster design that was not digitally altered for the scene(s). The tube station at the Wharf was used as the Imperial Security Complex on Scarif, lending itself to be perfectly believable without much on-set work.