There are many iconic locations from movies. Like the Emerald City, Hill Valley or the Mos Eisely Cantina. Some of them are just as important as the characters, while others offer us insight into their psyche. While often they exist purely in a studio, sometimes a real-world landmark will be used, although you might not always notice. Here are a selection of real-world buildings used in famous films, so you too can visit these famous places.
Hatley Castle – Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (X-Men)
Hatley Castle in British Columbia has a rich real-world history of its own. Originally a mansion it has been a naval training facility, a military college, and a university. The location is probably most well known as Xavier’s Mansion in the X-Men films, where Professor X provides safety and teaches mutants to control their powers. Some of the interiors are used across the series, although no one has reported a hidden, futuristic basement or high tech jet plane leaving the grounds. The castle has featured in several other projects, such as Arrow, Smallville, and The Changeling.
Skellig Michael – Ahch-To (Star Wars)
When The Force Awakens opens, the opening crawl reveals that Luke Skywalker has vanished. At the end of the film, Rey travels to the planet of Ahch-To, to find Skywalker living in exile atop a small island. That island is actually Skellig Michael, one of the Skellig Islands just off the coast of Ireland. On the summit is a 6th Century Monastic settlement, which is where the Caretakers lived in The Last Jedi. It is also home to a variety of birds, most notably puffins, which, because of their protected status, couldn’t be moved out of the way. Rather than digitally remove them, the filmmakers decided to work with them and they became the adorable porgs.
Waikato – The Shire (Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit)
While this list could easily be filled exclusively with New Zealand and locations that double for Middle Earth, the Shire is arguably the most iconic. Home of the titular hobbits, both Middle Earth trilogies begin in this beautiful, peaceful land. When Jackson and crew returned to film The Hobbit trilogy, they rebuilt Hobbiton with more permanent materials, meaning that it will stay as it appears in the film for years to come. As well as building Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn has also been recreated, as well as themed celebrations taking place.
Timberline Lodge – Overlook Hotel (The Shining)
While one may expect a hotel with a reputation like the Overlook Hotel to not have many visitors, in reality it’s appearance in the film has only made it more popular. While the exterior shots were filmed here, most of the interior shots were shot in a studio, and ironically based off another hotel entirely. The hotel managers requested that the filmmakers change the room number, fearing it would deter guests. This has actually had the opposite effect, with room 237 now the hotels most requested room. The hotel that inspired the original book is a whole separate hotel, which could actually be haunted.
Edgartown – Amity Island (Jaws)
Despite being a fictional setting, Amity Island exists almost in it’s entirety in Martha’s Vineyard. Spielberg elected to shoot in the sea rather than in a studio, and consequently saved several small buisnesses in the area. The town hall remains in use today, while the beach itself is more popular than ever. Even the ravaged remains of the “Orca” the boat our heroes sail in, are displayed proudly. Perhaps the most unexpected star is the “Jaws bridge”, where tourists throw themselves into the sea and climb back to land just like in the film.
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