Since the release of Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977, Star Wars has become one of the most popular and iconic movie franchises of all time, weaving dramatic character twists and turns into an action-packed space epic.
Like any other blockbuster movie, all six Star Wars episodes are filmed across a number of exotic countries, but unlike most other films, this is done to achieve intergalactic results.
Much of the original trilogy (1977-1983), and some of the prequel saga (1999-2005), was filmed in Tunisia, and constructions including the Lars homestead and Mos Espa have been left standing by local authorities in a bid to boost tourism.
However, plenty of other places around the globe have also stood in as otherworldly locations in the six movies so far produced. Here, we take you to some of the most iconic filming locations of the Star Wars saga, and unveil our map of even more exciting explorations.
Its proximity to the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, where much of Episode I: The Phantom Menace was filmed, made Cassiobury Park in Watford an ideal location for capturing some of the outdoors action. Here, Whippendell Woods stands in as a forest on the planet Naboo, home to the underwater Gungan race – of which Jar Jar Binks is a proud member. The planet is invaded by the droid army, and the battle begins in the woods, much of which is many of these shots are used in the finished film.
A stunning villa overlooking Lake Como was where the filming of Padmé and Anakin's wedding took place in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Of course, the building itself is heavily edited in the finished film, but with Villa del Balbianello offering its services as a real-life wedding venue, few would disagree that a scenic view of Lake Como is one of the most romantic spots on Earth – whether they’re a die-hard fan of the series or not.
You won’t have seen any of the cast at the massive eruption of Mount Etna in 2002, but footage of this natural disaster made it into the concluding part of the prequel trilogy. In the film’s final act, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi take part in a gruelling lightsabre battle on the planet Mustafar, where Anakin begins his physical transformation into Darth Vader amid the volcanic landscape. A film crew was dispatched to capture Etna’s explosions, which were used during this fight scene.
Tikal National Park in Guatemala constitutes the ruins of an ancient Mayan city, including six temples built atop pyramids. Being the site of several significant historic discoveries, it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979 - two years after the release of Episode IV: A New Hope. In this film, we’re treated to the view out over these temples, as the location doubles for the Rebel Base on the moon of Yavin 4, which eventually becomes the next target of the Death Star.
Close to the village of Frise in central Norway, you’ll find 16km of foreboding glacial conditions – perfect for an extensive battle on land between the Rebel Alliance and the Imperial forces on the ice planet Hoth, as seen in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Some tour operators offer tourists the chance to hike the same route that the heroes of the film took until the big battle. But given the adverse weather conditions, we wouldn’t blame you for giving this arduous hike a miss.
One of the most iconic sequences of the entire series was shot in the California sand dunes, as we see Luke Skywalker facing certain death in the Great Pit of Carkoon during Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Of course, our heroes make their dramatic escape from Jabba the Hutt’s evil plans amid a lengthy action scene which culminates in the demise of cult fan favourite (and bad guy) Boba Fett. Previous filming for Tatooine had taken place in Tunisia but the decision was made to remain closer to Hollywood for this key turning point in the third instalment of the original trilogy.