4th May marks Star Wars day, the unofficial but beloved celebration enjoyed by fans all over the world. But you don’t need to visit a galaxy far, far away to see where everyone’s favourite space saga was brought to life. In honour of the occasion, we’ve taken a look at some of the world’s most famous locations that you can go and explore for yourself.
Palace of Caserta in Italy – Naboo, The Phantom Menace
The stunning Palace of Caserta was used a location for the first Star Wars film, and is one of the first places you should visit on holidays to Italy. In 1999’s The Phantom Menace, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was used for the interior shots of Queen Amidala’s palace. The grand staircase is immediately recognizable as the one that Natalie Portman’s Padme descends with her entourage. The baroque building remains one of the largest royal palaces in Europe, and is still open to visitors – just don’t expect to find any droids inside.
Villa del Balbianello in Italy – Naboo, Attack of the Clones
The popular province of Como was another Italian filming location used for the planet Naboo. The picturesque Villa del Balbianello was chosen as the setting for the romantic scenes between Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, and it’s easy to see why. It’s also where the on-screen couple tied the knot at the end of Attack of the Clones. Unsurprisingly, given its natural landscape overlooking Lake Como, Villa del Balbianello is still a popular wedding venue to this day.
Mount Etna in Sicily – Mustafar, Revenge of the Sith
A volcanic eruption that occurred back in 2003 couldn’t have come at a better time for George Lucas, who happened to be shooting the epic final duel of 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. The volcanic landscape of Mount Etna in Sicily provided the perfect visuals for the fiery planet Mustafar, where the film’s climax takes place. When it was safe enough, camera crews were sent on a mission to film the molten lava, so that the natural marvel could be added later on in production. Despite still being an active volcano, Mount Etna remains one of Italy’s top attractions, and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tikal in Guatemala – Yavin, A New Hope
Fans won’t have any trouble recognizing the Rebel base of Yavin from A New Hope, but may be surprised to learn that filming took place in a Guatemalan rainforest. In the scene, the Millenium Falcon is actually flying over the famous ancient complex of Tikal in Guatemala, and the early ruins that can be seen in the shot are the remains of the Mayan temples. Filming took place back in 1977, and two years later in 1979, Tikal was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Del Norte County in California – Endor, Return of the Jedi
Did you know that originally, George Lucas planned to create lizard-like creatures instead of furry Ewoks? Chances are, you did, but you may not have known that the Ewoks’ home, the forest moon of Endor, was in fact filmed in California. Del Norte County, to be exact, and the giant redwoods seen in Return of the Jedi are instantly recognizable. The forest remains a popular attraction for movie-buffs and scenery-lovers alike, thanks to its picturesque natural landscape set close by to the Smith River.
Laamu Atoll in the Maldives – Scarif, Rogue One
Star Wars fans may have a bit of saving up to do for this last location. If you want to see where the final scenes of Rogue One were shot, Laamu Atoll is the place to go. This beach paradise was used for the planet Scarif, the location of the blockbuster’s epic finale. Don’t worry if you’re planning a trip to the Maldives anytime soon, though – you won’t find any lightsabers or droids on the beach, just miles and miles of white sand and blue sea.
No matter which one of our top six Star Wars destinations you choose to discover, these are definitely the holidays you’re looking for. You’ll find plenty more Star Wars filming locations around the world, too – Death Valley in California, for example, was used as the setting for Tatooine. As its name would suggest, though, the spot isn’t exactly tourist-friendly . . .