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10 Destinations That’ll Take You to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

You don’t need a hyperspace-equipped Millennium Falcon to explore the stomping grounds of Luke Skywalker and company.

Have you ever found yourself stepping outside your humble moisture farm to gaze contemplatively into the sunset as an epic theme underscores your existential ennui, feeling like if there’s a bright center of the universe you’re on the planet farthest from? Well, you don’t have to leave Earth—or even the Milky Way—to feel like you’re in another galaxy. From Baroque Italian architecture to ancient island monasteries you can explore the places that have been used as filming locations for some of the most iconic planets, moons, and palaces in the Star Wars universe.

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Theed Royal Palace

WHERE: The Royal Palace of Caserta

The Royal Palace of Caserta is a textbook representation of Baroque architecture. Inspired by the Palace of Versaille, the massive 18th-century palace was built for the Kings of Bourbon and features a garden, four courtyards, 1,200 rooms, and nearly 2,000 windows. Its massive halls are brimming with marble and examples of Neoclassical and Rococo art. The palace’s massive halls and grand staircase featured prominently in 1999’s The Phantom Menace, serving as the interior of the Royal Palace on the planet of Naboo.

These days the Palace of Caserta, located in southern Italy, is open to the public. You’re likely to feel like galactic royalty as you explore the grounds of this Neopolitan wonder. Just don’t recreate a droid battle in the hallway.

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WHERE: Villa del Balbianello

The 18th-century Italian villa served as the backdrop for a pivotal scene in Attack of the Clones during which Anakin—a character who develops into feared Sith overlord Darth Vader—reveals that he doesn’t like sand. Tourists can visit the villa, gaze out over the waters of Lake Como and explain that, you see, the problem with sand is that it’s coarse and rough and it gets everywhere.

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WHERE: Mt. Etna

While the climactic lightsaber battle that closes out Revenge of the Sith wasn’t filmed on a literally erupting volcano, it does feature actual footage of the 2002-2003 eruption on Mt. Etna. The eruption, which resulted in a column of ash so huge it could be seen from space, was captured by Lucasfilm cinematographers and can be seen in the final film as a stand in for the volcanic planes of the planet Mustafar.

Mt. Etna, located in Sicily, is the largest active volcano in Sicily and while its appearance in Sith makes a rather daunting first impression it’s actually a very safe volcano to visit. Which is fortunate because Mt. Etna is actually an excellent place to hike, ski, and take in stunning views of the island below the nighttime sky above.

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WHERE: Wadi Rum

Appearing as the small moon Jedha in Rogue One was far from Wadi Rum’s first on screen role. Lawrence of Arabia, Prometheus, and The Martian are just a few of the films that made use of the Jordanian valley. With its striking sandstone cliffs and lunar landscapes it’s no wonder that Wadi Rum has become a go-to for filmmakers looking for the perfect science fiction locale.

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WHERE: Tunisia

It’s one thing to imagine an Italian palace is a or that a volcano surrounded by medieval towns is a lava planet. It’s another thing to find yourself in the Tunisian desert, standing at the gates of Mos Espa or in front of the domed roof of Luke Skywalker’s house. When filming wrapped on Star Wars: A New Hope the sets were left behind where they’ve remained untouched. The sheer number of sites in Tunisia makes it the ultimate trip for diehard Star Wars fans.

Visiting the remaining sets not enough of a Star Wars experience? How about staying the night in Luke Skywalker’s house? Check in to Hotel Sidi Driss which converted the set that served as the Lars homestead in A New Hope and Attack of the Clones into a 20-room hotel. (No word on whether blue milk is available via room service.)

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WHERE: Death Valley

There are no abandoned sets left behind in California’s Death Valley, but its sand dunes, salt flats and canyons also portrayed the planet of Tatooine. When time and money was running out during the shooting of the first Star Wars Tunisia was switched out for the morbidly named National Park. In one instance, the establishing shot of Mos Eisley (that notorious hive of scum and villainy) was spliced together with footage that was initially shot in Sidi Bouhlel.

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WHERE: Hardangerjøkulen Glacier

The Hardangerjøkulen glacier was used as the shooting location for the ice planet Hoth and is perhaps the trickiest of the Star Wars shooting locations to reach. The closest access point is the Norwegian town of Finse, a place so remote there are no roads to reach it so visitors must come via train. And in order to get to the glacier itself you have to obtain special permission and a guide in order to navigate the terrain.

If you do make the journey to Hardangerjøkulen, make sure to bundle up if you make because there are no tauntauns to slice open and huddle up in.

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WHERE: Del Norte, California

If you’re interested in visiting the homeplanet of the fuzzy and surprisingly bloodthirsty Ewoks, find your way to Del Norte County in northern California. The forest moon’s foliage was populated by famously otherworldly redwoods but if you’re looking to find the exact location of the speeder chase or the Ewok village you might have some trouble.

By the time the filming of Return of the Jedi had started the Star Wars phenomenon was in full swing, prompting the shooting to be done in secret and under the false title of Blue Harvest. However, it’s believed that Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and/or Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park are possible locations that were used in filming.

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WHERE: Rub’ al Khali

Rub’ al Khali is the largest contiguous desert in the world—making it the perfect, sprawling backdrop for staging stormtrooper battles and a spaceship chases. Though filming for The Force Awakens ended some time ago there’s still a level of mystery involved regarding Star Wars and its time in the “Empty Quarter” including rumors that some of the sets were left behind and that the sand was so hot it caused Stormtrooper’s boots to melt.

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The First Jedi Temple

WHERE: Skellig Michael

Though the Irish island of Skellig Michael is glimpsed briefly in the closing minutes of The Force Awakens it managed to leave an indelible impression on audiences. Since the film’s release in 2015 interest in the UNESCO heritage site has skyrocketed. As in, the country’s tourism board literally launched a billboard advertising the island into space.

But Skellig Michael was cloaked in mystery long before Luke Skywalker posted up on the edge of a cliff, staring cryptically into the middle distance. According to legend, the island is the resting site of Míl Espáine, the mythical ancestor of the Irish Gaels. A Catholic monastery, said to be founded by St. Finnian, was established sometime before the eighth century. And while Skellig Michael has been uninhabited since the 1300s it does serve as a home to a number of birds, including porg-like puffins.

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