By Ye Charlotte Ming
The phenomenal movie franchise, Star Wars, was filmed in locations all around the world, making previously unknown places the sites of pilgrimages. If you are that hard-core Star Wars fans, save a SpaceX trip to the galaxies and visit these stunning, actual locations, right here on planet Earth.
Wadi Rum, a sandstone valley in southern Jordan, played host to the moon of Jedha in the popular Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One. The ghostly desert has also appeared in The Martian and Transformers. You are more likely to be traveling on the back of camels than in spaceships, but the extraordinary landscape can still promise an experience of a life time.
Ksar Ouled Soltane in Tataouine, Southern Tunisia is where George Lucas filmed the slave quarters of Mos Espa in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The well-preserved structures were built by the Berber people in the 15th century. Recent terror attacks and conflicts in Tunisia have caused the tourism industry to suffer, but it is slowly picking up steam again.
The spectacular Royal Palace of Caserta served as the royal palace on Naboo, where Luke and Leia's mother Amidala lived. The Baroque palace was constructed in the mid-18th century to rival the Palace of Versailles in France. In 1997, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site.
The Plaza de Espana in Seville, southern Spain, was featured as the capital of Naboo. The semicircular structure was built in 1928 in Renaissance revival style. An afternoon stroll in the elegant building will surely make you feel like a royal.
The snows mountains in Grindelwald, at the heart of the Bernese Alps in Switzerland, served as a backdrop for Princess Leia's home planet Alderaan in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The region offers world-class skiing and hiking experiences.
The ancient Mayan temples and the surrounding lush forest in Tikal, Guatemala served as the scenes for the Rebel Base on Yavin IV, in Star Wars: A New Hope. The temples date back as far as 400BC, and it is believed that many more sites are still buried in the rainforest, waiting to be discovered. The site was designated as a national park by Guatemala in 1979.
The Hardangerjøkulen Glacier near the village Finse in Norway was used for an epic snow battle scene between Luke Skywalker's Rebel Alliance and Darth Vader's Imperial army on the ice planet of Hoth in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. There is no road going to Finse, so instead, take the scenic Bergen railway, a must-do experience when you are in Norway.
The futuristic-looking Canary Wharf tube station in London appeared in Rogue One, in which the platform was transformed into the Imperial base. It is reported that the film's director Gareth Edwards had lived in the area for a period. If you are in London, take the jubilee line but don't be surprised if you end up on the Death Star.
Guilin, known for its beautiful limestone karst mountains, is a popular destination in southwestern China. Although no filming was actually done in Guilin, the picturesque landscape appeared in Episode III as the backdrop for the Wookiee planet Kashyyyk.
California's Death Valley National Park was used as the establishing shot of Mos Eisley in Episode IV: A New Hope. The otherworldly vista of the dry gullies and wind sculpted ridges will surely transport you to another planet.