When we first watched Star Wars, our minds were opened to the idea that an entire galaxy was out there, waiting to be explored. We saw such a wide variety of environments, ranging from the deserts of Tatooine to the polar environment on Hoth to the forest on Endor. Some of us were imbued with this spirit of exploration and decided we would travel to as many places on Earth as we could, at least until we could explore other planets. For hardcore Star Wars fans, there are still several exotic destinations that you can seek out if you’re in the mood to begin your own hero’s journey.
The Star Wars saga often has its setting on Tatooine, and Lucas found the perfect desert filming location in the North African country of Tunisia. Fortunately, almost all of the sets have stayed put so that fans can hire tours to visit several pieces of Star Wars history. For example, old Ben Kenobi’s home in A New Hope is still in place, currently used by fishermen on the island of Djerba. Luke’s home and the Tusken raiders’ canyon in A New Hope, along with Mos Espa from The Phantom Menace are located in Tozeur, a southwestern Tozeur town. In Matmata, you can even sleep in Luke’s home! A hotel has since been established on that set with a few modifications to make it guest-friendly.
The Royal Palace at Caserta
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, just north of Naples, Italy, was the site of filming for the indoor Naboo scenes in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Lucas really sold the opulence of Naboo, and it was thanks to the Renaissance qualities that this palace exudes. The Palace at Caserta is one of the biggest royal homes in the world, comprised of five floors and 1,200 rooms. It was built for King Charles VII of Naples, later King Charles III of Spain. It was meant to imitate the design of the Palace of Versailles, and visitors can see with their own eyes that the architect delivered on his promise. The palace is also home to the English Garden, one of the oldest continuously operated gardens in Europe.
Near the end of A New Hope, you see a Rebel soldier witnessing the descent of the Millennium Falcon into the jungle of Yavin IV, the rebel base. That shot was filmed from the staircase of Temple IV in the Guatemalan archeological site called Tikal. Tikal was a city inhabited by the Mayans from approximately 400 BC until 950 AD. The site is filled with temples that commemorated the various kings the ruled the city over the years. Temple IV was particularly built for King Yik’in Chan K’awiil. This temple is the tallest one in Tikal and one of the tallest ancient structures in Latin America. The other temples visible in the New Hope shot are Temples II and III. Tikal is great for fans of ancient history in this galaxy and the farther galaxy.
That slashed O already tells you this is somewhere in the wind-swept tundras of Scandinavia. In fact, Hardangerjøkulen Glacier in southern Norway was the site where the battle scenes on Hoth were filmed. While there are no longer any AT-AT ruins lying around, you can hike across the battlefield where many Rebels lost their lives. It is a very cold location, so you may need to follow Han’s lead and get a good coat so you don’t have to find an open Tauntaun for warmth.
If you’re a fan of Star Wars and have the money and time to visit these locations, you will be all the wiser for it, gaining a new respect for the variety of biomes and the history that this planet has preserved. In these sites, far from modern civilization, you may also feel a stronger connection to some sort of Force present in nature.