When ‘The Force Awakens‘ hits cinema’s worldwide mid-December it will bring a 22 year wait to an end as the story of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, R2D2, C3P0 and so on continues. Of course there’s a brand new supporting cast alongside them who will no doubt take the story on from the legacy characters.
New filming locations include Skelling Michael in County Derry (Ireland), Abu Dhabi (UAE), New Mexico (USA), Greenham Common (UK), Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire (UK), Scotland and Iceland. I’ll hopefully visit them some day but for now it’s time to look back at the current pilgrimage sites which are essential for serious Star Wars fans to visit and truly feel the force.
Here then, in no particular order, are the Tokyo Fox top 10………Star Wars filming locations…
1. The Lars Homestead @ Sidi Driss Hotel (interior), Matmata and Chott el Djerid (exterior) (Tunisia) – ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope‘ (1977) & ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones‘ (2002)
The interior and exterior shots of the Lars homestead are actually 300km apart and first featured in the 1977 original before appearing again some 25 years later. The exterior was restored a few years ago by a group of fans and the interior in Matmata is still open as a run-down hotel which hordes of tourists pass through each day. More details here
2. Naboo @ Villa Del Balbianello, Como (Italy) – ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones‘ (2002)
Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala arrive at the lake retreat on the latter’s home planet of Naboo and eventually get married with R2D2 and C3PO the only ones in attendance. The same loggia also featured in ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006). More details here
3. Mos Espa Slave Quarters @ Ksar Medinine (Tunisia) – ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ (1999)
The home of Anakin and Shmi Skywalker which can be found just behind Ksar Medenine. The crew covered the floor in sand to make it look more desert-like. More details here
4. Theed City in Naboo @ Plaza De Espana, Seville (Spain) – ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones‘ (2002)
Anakin and Padmé, followed by R2D2, arrive on Naboo and walk to the Queen’s palace. It was also used in ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘ (1962) where it played the part of ‘Cairo’ officers’ club. More details here
5. Yavin 4 @ Tikal National Park (Guatemala) – ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope‘ (1977)
The rebel base where Luke Skywalker and co launched their attack to destroy the Death Star and save their people from the grasp of Darth Vader. More details here
6. Tatooine Canyon @ Shubiel Gorge, Sidi Bouhlel (Tunisia) – ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope‘ (1977)
When Ben Kenobi shows Luke Mos Eisley, they are standing on the lookout point of the canyon although the view seen on screen was actually shot at Dante’s Peak in Death Valley (USA). Filming was also done down in the canyon where you’ll find Artoo’s hideout and Jawa rock. George Lucas returned to this place for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark‘ (1981). More details here
7. Mos Eisley Cantina Bar @ Djerba (Tunisia) – ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope‘ (1977)
Luke and Ben arrive in this “wretched hive of scum and villainy” looking for a spaceship and are introduced to Han Solo and the rest is history. More details here
8. Road to Jabba’s Palace @ Twenty Mule Team Canyon, Death Valley (USA) – ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi‘ (1983)
Death Valley played host to a number of short scenes and pick-up shots in the original release in 1977 that were blended in with Tunisian footage but this scene from episode six is perhaps the more iconic shot where the two droids approach the palace which was added by CGI. More details here
9. Royal Palace of Naboo @Caserta Palace, Caserta (Italy) – ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ (1999) & ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones‘ (2002)
The Trade Federation, using an army of battle droids, descend the stairs having taken over Queen Amidala’s peaceful Royal Palace. This place can also be seen in ‘Mission Impossible 3‘ (2006) and ‘Angels & Demons‘ (2009). More details here
10. Mos Espa Spaceport @ Chott El Gharsa (Tunisia) – ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ (1999)
This awesome set was purposely built in the desert for ‘The Phantom Menace‘ (1999) and still remains to this day though tabloid rumours in recent years have reported stories like it being engulfed by sand dunes and taken over by terrorist group ISIS.
Bonus: The Sacred Forest of Naboo @ Whippendell Woods, Watford (UK) – ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ (1999)
This forest is where we first get to see Jar Jar Binks who is saved by Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi and subsequently agrees to guide them to Otoh Gunga. Later in the film, Amidala and the rebels make plans to attack Theed; the capital of Naboo. More details here
Of course there are many more Star War locations which didn’t make the cut but are worthy of a footnote mention. Here’s a few of them and they include Ben Kenobi’s home (Djerba, Tunisia), Endor (Redwood National Park, USA), the Great Pit of Carkoon (Yuma Desert, USA) and Hoth (Hardangerjokulen Glacier in Finse, Norway). It seems that the galaxy is not as far away as the Star Wars saga tells us!
You can see individual Star Wars Traveller entries by clicking on the following: