When I was a kid I dreamt of flying over the sand dunes of Tatooine in my very own landspeeder. That childhood dream, minus the landspeeder, started to become a reality when I realized that I could visit Tatooine in real life! Or at least the Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope filming locations.
The magic of Star Wars has been captivating audiences for over forty years and it all started with…Star Wars, what we now know of as A New Hope.Though many fans argue that Empire Strikes Back is the best, A New Hope holds a special place in my heart for the nostalgia of introducing the saga’s heroes, villains, and planets.
If you’ve ever wondered where Tatooine or Yavin are in real life, you’ve come to the right place. So come with me, Padawan, and let me guide you on your “first steps into a larger world” of Star Wars filming locations.
Where Was A New Hope Filmed? A General Overview
Aside from the studios in England (where actual magic occurred), filming took place in Tunisia, the USA, and Guatemala. IMDB also lists Mexico but it doesn’t say which scene and no other sources verify it.
So this list will cover the verifiable locations, including a relevant deleted scene. “But I was going to Tosche station to pick up some power converters…” Luke didn’t make it to Tosche in the film but he did go in a fan favorite deleted scene.
Filming took place from March to July of 1976 with some final filming and photography in January of 1977. Everyone at Fox had a bad feeling about it, but Star Wars ended up being a worldwide success.
Star Wars – A New Hope Filming Locations: A Full List!
Looking for all the filming locations from A New Hope you can visit? Be sure to check these places out:
Luke said Tatooine was the furthest planet from the bright center of the universe, but it’s actually here on Earth. Scenes of Luke’s home planet were filmed in Tunisia and Death Valley, California.
In some cases both of these Star Wars filming locations appear in the same scene. For the sake of organization, I’ll cover all of the Tunisia locations and then move on to Death Valley.
The first Star Wars filming location appears when Threepio and Artoo land on Tatooine in the escape pod. Their landing site is in the Dune Sea, or Dune de Sable, just outside Nefta, Tunisia.
This area was used again almost 20 years later in the prequels for the Mos Espa set.
In case you missed our articles on the prequel filming locations, you can find them here!
Chott el Djerid, Nefta, Tunisia
Just south of the droids’ landing site is where you can find the Lars homestead. The homestead is located in the Chott el Djerid salt lake and the igloo is still there!
Given the dry desert climate, the chott completely dries up in the summer but floods in the winter. The harsh weather nearly destroyed the igloo and it was almost lost to fans forever.
Thanks to the hard work of some heroic superfans the igloo was saved! They raised enough money for the repairs and now it’s waiting for us to show up in our best Star Wars bounds.
Sidi Bouhlel, Tozeur, Tunisia
Approximately thirty miles east of the Lars homestead is the Jundland Wastes where Luke meets Obi-Wan. In our world, though, this canyon is appropriately known as Star Wars Canyon.
The actual name of the canyon, Sidi Bouhlel, comes from the name of a marabout situated above the dramatic ravine. Coincidentally, a marabout is a shrine dedicated to a Muslim holy man or, get this, a hermit! “I wonder if he means old Ben Kenobi?”
Sidi Bouhlel scenes include the Jawas ambushing Artoo, Tusken Raiders attacking Luke, and Obi-Wan and Luke finding the slain Jawas. No wonder Obi-Wan said the Jundland Wastes were not to be traveled lightly.
And finally, there’s a bluff in the canyon where Luke and Obi-Wan look out over Mos Eisley.
Fun Fact: Sidi Bouhel is also where Lucas and Spielberg shot the canyon scenes in Raider’s of the Lost Ark.
Sidi Idriss Hotel, Matmata, Tunisia
Another 130 miles east of Sidi Bouhlel is the city of Matmata, the Lars Homestead part II. Here you’ll find the filming location for the interior of Luke’s house at the Sidi Idriss Hotel.
Sidi Idriss is a troglodyte dwelling that consists of caves and underground rooms. This typical Tunisian house is ideal for the hot desert climate.
The hotel is still open for business so you can experience what it’s like to live in Luke Skywalker’s house. Breakfast is included but I don’t think they serve bantha milk.
Some of the original set pieces remain at the hotel and there’s even a small Star Wars museum. I think it’s safe to say that Batuu’s got nothing on this Star Wars filming location.
On the island of Djerba is where you’ll find Obi-Wan’s hut. It’s an unnamed, abandoned structure on the southwest side of the island, right on the coast.
It’s possible that the building was a temple long ago. However, in recent years it has become a storehouse for local fishermen.
In the original version of A New Hope we only see the exterior of the hut for a brief second. All you see is the hut and Luke’s speeder, nothing of the landscape.
So if you’ve only seen the edited special edition you won’t even recognize this Star Wars filming location. The special edition added CGI elements including a dome on top of the building.
Another difference is that in real life Obi-Wan’s house sits right on the coast with the Mediterranean as the backdrop. But in the special edition they superimposed shots of the desert to make it look like it’s near the Jundland Wastes.
Only a few miles south of Obi-Wan’s house is the real life Mos Eisley Cantina. Sadly, though, the cantina is dilapidated and almost completely unrecognizable, especially when compared to the special edition.
What’s not unrecognizable, though, is Tosche Station…that is, if you’ve watched the deleted scene. Ten miles up the [real life] coast from Obi-Wan’s house is Anchorhead where Luke met up with his friends including the pilot Biggs.
Fan theory: In the Tosche Station deleted scene, there’s a girl named Camie who isn’t in any other scene. Some fans believe that Camie is the old woman who runs into Rey at the end of ROS.
Death Valley National Park, California
While most of the Tatooine scenes were filmed in Tunisia, some of these scenes contain footage from Death Valley.
Think of Tunisia as a leading actress and Death Valley as the understudy. It’s no wonder that Lucas chose Death Valley for this role since the desert and mountainous terrain bears striking resemblance to the landscape of Tunisia.
There are four Star Wars filming locations in Death Valley and I’ll tell you where they are and which Tunisia shots they go with.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
After crash landing on Tatooine, C3P0 and R2D2 decide they each know better than the other and they walk off in opposite directions. On screen they’re in the same desert, but in real life they’re on continents.
When Threepio walks into the dune sea, that was in Tunisia as mentioned above. But when the scene cuts to Artoo gliding over the sand toward the mountains in the distance, that was actually near the famous Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station and General Store.
One mile east of the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station is the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Not only is this where Artoo strolled off alone, but it’s also a popular location for sand sledding and boarding.
That means you can check out an Episode IV filming location and also reenact the scene where Rey sleds down a sand dune in The Force Awakens. How cool is that?!
As night falls and Artoo strolls through the Jundland Wastes alone, he’s actually walking through an arroyo in Artists Palette, Death Valley. It’s crazy how much this narrow gully resembles Sidi Bouhel, the original Star Wars Canyon.
A few more shots and angles show the Jawas stalking Artoo before they attack. When they do actually attack him, though, that was back in Sidi Bouhel.
Apparently some of the Tunisian footage of this scene was lost and the crew had to reshoot the Jawas carrying Artoo to the sandcrawler. They reshot in Artists Palette along Artists Drive.
The road is one way going north but the shot was filmed facing south just after the entrance of the road. So if you go looking for this location, be sure to drive slowly and take a compass with you.
Fun fact: When filming the original sandcrawler footage in Tunisia, the Libyan government went to inspect the vehicle to make sure it wasn’t a Tunisian war vehicle. And because this footage was lost, the sandcrawler we see in the film was only a painting.
When Luke and C3P0 are searching for R2D2 in the Jundland Wastes, there’s a brief scene of the Tusken Raiders with a bantha. Again, it looks like Sidi Bouhel but it’s in Desolation Canyon, Death Valley.
The bantha was played by an elephant named Mardji who apparently loved to play in a nearby creek. No wonder the bantha’s movements seemed so lifelike rather than robotic.
Did you know the blue milk that Luke drinks, and which is served at Galaxy’s Edge, is actually bantha milk? If you think milking a bantha is unethical, you can make your own with this tasty recipe!
The fourth and final Death Valley filming location in A New Hope is Dante’s View, renowned for its spectacular view. In Star Wars, this view served as the Mos Eisley spaceport.
Earlier I mentioned the scene where Luke and Obi-Wan stood on a bluff in Sidi Bouhel (Star Wars Canyon), looking off to Mos Eisley in the distance. Well, they were standing in Tunisia but when the scene cut to show the view they were looking at, it was actually the Dante’s View in Death Valley.
It’s mind boggling that Lucas and his crew were able to put all of these scenes together so seemlessly. When watching the film you’d never know you’re looking at deserts on opposite sides of the planet.
Tikal National Park, Guatemala
The final Episode IV filming location takes us to the jungles of Central America. The ancient Mayan temples of Tikal, Guatemala, became the famous Yavin 4 rebel base.
Coincidentally, the temple where the cast and crew filmed is called Temple IV. Although in Spanish the full name is Templo de la Serpiente Bicéfala, or Temple of the Two Headed Serpent.
The temples are numbered (as well as named) because there are so many of them, and some haven’t even been excavated yet. In the Yavin 4 scenes, you can see the peaks of Temples II and III and other structures rising above the jungle canopy.
The first shot of Yavin 4 shows the Millennium Falcon soaring above the jungle, coming in for a landing to return Her Worshipfulness to the rebel base. This footage was later reused in the 1978 Holiday Special.
While Tikal’s jungles originally served as the rebel base on Yavin 4, in the Holiday Special the Millennium Falcon was landing on Kashyyyk. The Holiday Special is pretty brutal so in case you just want to watch this scene and compare it to A New Hope, you’ll see the Falcon landing on Kashyyyk at minute 38:38.
After the Falcon’s landing on Yavin 4 it shows the rebel heroes standing in front of the temple. However, what we’re seeing is actually a painting of the temple and the actors were standing in front of a Royal Air Force base hangar in England.
The Throne Room
I’m sure you’re expecting, like I was, for there to be a filming location for the award ceremony—like inside one of the temples in Tikal. But alas it was filmed at England’s Shepperton Studios.
This scene is significant to me personally because of John Williams’ Throne Room score. I admit unashamedly that I always wanted this song to play at my wedding in lieu of the traditional wedding march.
Yes, I’m that kind of nerd.
Despite being filmed in a studio, this scene came together with an energy that made us all think they really were in a grand throne room. Perhaps we have Mark Hamil to thank for that…
The audience of the throne room award ceremony was made up of extras who didn’t even know what scene they were filming or how it fit in with the plot. So Hamil explained the significance to them and they quickly got on board with the celebratory mood.
Did we miss any key A New Hope filming locations?
I hope you enjoyed reading this Star Wars filming location guide as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you know of any other filming locations, or if you’ve traveled to any of the locations listed above, please tell us in the comments!