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The Star Wars saga takes us on a journey through landscapes that have become emblematic. Its director George Lucas combines science fiction and fantasy to create an incredible immersion. Throughout the saga, we visit about thirty landscapes ranging from the warmest to the iciest. Come on, let’s board our ship to discover these visual wonders.  

West Coast of Ireland chosen for The Last Jedi episode

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… 

Before starting our trip, a few precisions are necessary. The 5 landscapes we will visit are all located in Europe. Because our partners are present there or can offer you a visit that meets the sustainable tourism criteria. The Star Wars saga has been shot all around the world, Thailand, California, Guatemala …

The landscapes are listed in the order of release of the episodes in the cinema. The saga begins in 1977 and ends in 2019. It is divided into three trilogies. The story tells the confrontation between the Jedi Knights and the Dark Lords of the Sith. These people are Force-sensitives. This mysterious energy gives them more or less powerful psychic, physical and healing powers. Who doesn’t know the famous expression “May the Force be with you”? 

Tunisia, a New Hope 

The first episode of the first trilogy takes us to the planet Tatooine. It is on this desert planet that the family of the hero, Luke Skywalker, lives. The landscape and native species are hostile. The human settlers are often in conflict with them to compete for the little water left on the planet. The real landscape that has been chosen to represent this virtual reality is Tunisia. The hero lives somewhere in a troglodytic dwelling in Matmata. This scenery is inherited from the Berber populations who decided to build their houses in the rock. Today, the hotel Sidi Driss maintains the places of this first setting.

Street of Mos Espa on Tatooine
Luke Skywalker’s house
Ksar Ouled Soltan by Ian Sewell – Wikipedia CC BY 2.5

The director George Lucas will return many times in Tunisia in order to shoot the scenes of four other episodes. And in particular the first episode of the trilogy which will be the prequel of the whole saga. In the Phantom Menace, the director narrates us the childhood of Anakin Skywalker that will lead him to become Darth Vader. Anakin was raised alone by his mother. Both work as slaves for a scrap metal dealer. Ksar Medenine and Ksar Ouled Soltan were chosen for the backgrounds of this episode. These authentic settings are incredible troglodytic dwellings. It is in the canyon of Sidi Bouhlel that the mythical race of modules takes place.

The module race

Norway, The Empire Strikes Back 

After the Tunisian heat, George Lucas brought his team to the Norwegian cold. In Norway, in the village of Finse, the extreme temperatures -down to -15°F- and the snowstorms make the shooting difficult. Parkas were specially designed to protect the film crew. This new icy landscape is the Battle of Hoth. It opposes the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. But before this fight, Luke Skywalker faces against an abominable snowman. The Battle of Hoth was filmed at the foot of the Hardangerjøkulen glacier. The glacier is protected by a national park. There is not much left of the film sets, just a few rocks that served as background for the rebel forces. You can, however, visit the place with a local guide.

The Battle of Hoth
Snowy landscape in Finse

Spain, Attack of the clones

For the second episode of the prequel, the film crew headed to Spain. As a young Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker’s first mission is to protect Senator Padmé Amidala. He escorts her to her home planet, Naboo. The real place of their landing is the grandiose Plaza de España. With its exceptional dimensions, 500,000 sq ft, of which 200,000 sq ft, is the palace, it is the perfect place to locate the throne room. And the architectural style is also incredible. Built of brick and marble, the palace is decorated with painted ceramic. For the purposes of the film, the square has been changed from a semi-circular space to a circular one. But it is possible to re-enact the scene of the Senator and the Jedi walking under the covered gallery. 

Anakin and Padmé arriving at Naboo
Plaza de España by Carlos Delgado – Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

Italy, Attack of the clones

After Spain, the film crew headed to Italy. Since meeting her on Tatooine, Anakin has been secretly in love with Senator Amidala. But she refuses this love, which goes against the Jedi code. After many adventures, Padmé confesses her feelings to him. This love, which will remain secret, is revealed on the shores of Lake Como. This landscape, with its paradise-like appearance, provides our heroes with a little respite. The Villa Balbianello, a Renaissance style palace, is the gorgeous setting for their wedding. Since then, many couples have chosen to get married at the same location. In the previous episode, it was the sumptuous Reggia Castle of Caserta that served as the palace of Queen Amidala. This palace is the largest royal residence in the world. Anakin, by letting himself be more and more controlled by his feelings, gets closer to the dark side. 

Anakin and Padmé’s wedding

Villa Balbianello

In the following episode, Revenge of the Sith, Anakin has become Darth Vader and has chosen a lava planet, Mustafar, as his refuge. It is on this planet that Darth Vader and his Jedi master fight to the death. Images of the molten Etna volcano are used as a background to their duel.

Ireland, The Last Jedi

The first film of the latest trilogy, The Force Awakens, ends in Ireland. In this movie, the young Force-sensitive wreck remover Rey appears. She is the one who finds Luke Skywalker on the island of Skellig Michael. In Irish the name Sceilg Mhichíl, means “the steep rock of Micheál”. It is no accident that the director chose this lonely rock as a refuge. As early as the 6th century, monks settled there. This place was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996.  The landscape is stark with cliffs and little vegetation. The steps and the remaining ruins have shaped the Jedi temple. 

Another Irish place was used as a real base, it is Brow Head. This is where Rey has to face her dark side. She dives into a hole that is an old mine.

Rey faces his dark side
Island of Skellig Michael by Maureen – Wikipédia CC BY 2.0

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