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5 Iconic Destinations from Movies and Television

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City walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Visit these epic filming locations around the globe

Filmmakers explore the globe searching for the perfect destination to make medieval cities, fantastical villages, or fictional planets come to life. Rather than relying on movie lots or CGI, filming on location exemplifies the brilliance of the real world. The following list counts down some of the top real-world locations where the fantasy of the silver screen comes to life.

1. Ireland: Star Wars

Skellig Michael, Ireland

The famed Skellig Michael is pictured above

The rugged landscapes of Ireland's Skellig Michael island served perfectly for Luke Skywalker's hidden recluse in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Its steep landscape rises from the Atlantic with carved steps that take you to the dramatic twin-pinnacled peaks. It is easy to imagine Luke Skywalker’s solitary existence on the island’s alien terrain. There remains a tower house and inscribed cross slab that now is occupied by puffins, razorbills, and gannets. The island is only accessible during Ireland’s summers but is a perfect getaway for historians and enthusiasts alike.

Learn more about how you can experience the epic adventures of a galaxy far away at the Star Wars filming locations in Ireland.

2. Croatia: Game of Thrones

Gothic rectors in Dubrovnik's Old Town, Croatia

Gothic rectors in Dubrovnik's Old Town

The seat of the Seven Kingdoms takes shape in the historical city of Dubrovnik, Croatia on the Adriatic coast. While absent of dragons and direwolves, Dubrovnik’s Old Town embodies a medieval atmosphere in the preserved 13th-century Gothic and Baroque architecture. Whether standing at the Pile Gate entrance or enjoying the view of the shimmering Adriatic Sea at Gradac Park, practically every corner of Dubrovnik contains a memorable moment from the Game of Thrones saga. The stunning panoramas of the Dalmatian coast, and the remarkable history of the city founded in the 7th -century blur the lines between fact and fiction.

Learn more about how you can experience the Seven Kingdoms of the Game of Thrones filming locations in Croatia.

3. England: Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle in England

Highclere Castle is the main filming location of Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey provides insight into the daily lives of British aristocracy and those who serve them on the preserved grounds of Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England. On-screen, the abbey housed the Lord and Lady Grantham, their children, and the hired help Carson and Bates. In reality, Highclere Castle has remained the seat of Earl and Countess of Carnarvon since 1679. The grounds open to the public approximately 70 days out of the year including two full months in summer. Whether you sip tea in the café, explore the lavish English gardens, or discover the sensational Egyptian exhibition hosting artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb you will be immersed in the regal ambiance of Downton life.

Learn more about how you can experience the aristocracy of English society at the Downtown Abbey filming locations in England.

4. Italy: The Godfather

The small town Savoca on Sicily Island, Italy

The small town Savoca is pictured above

The Godfather trilogy has become an iconic film of the Italian mafia in America but also captures life in Sicily during the 20th century. The mob family drew its lineage to the town of Corleone, but due to developments, it was substituted by the small villages Savoca and Forza d’Agrò in filming. Step into the life of Michael Corleone with a drink at Bar Vitelli in the commune of Messina and stroll in front of Chiesa di San Nicolò where Michael married Apollonia Vitelli. Learn how the depictions in the movie trilogy reflect the traditions of 20th-century Sicily and how they persist today.

Learn more about how you can experience the culture of The Godfather at the filming locations in Sicily.

5. New Zealand: Lord of the Rings

Sheep grazing on the North Island of New Zealand

The working sheep farm at Hobbiton has fantastic views of the surrounding Kaimai Ranges

New Zealand encapsulates the imaginative world of Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the Lord of The Rings trilogy. The various terrain of the North and South islands allowed for the different realms to be depicted. Imposing mountains represented Mordor while pristine woodlands represented the Elvish settlement of Rivendell. The life of a hobbit comes into reality at Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand on the North Island where the shire scenes for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies took place. From the stories of hobbit holes to the breathtaking landscape on which the village stands, Hobbiton blends New Zealand’s natural beauty with the wonders of spellbinding storytelling.

Learn more about how you can experience the beauty of Middle Earth inside the Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand.

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