The Magical World of Harry Potter
Beginning in 2001, the 8 films of the Harry Potter franchise created a magical world firmly rooted in the United Kingdom with many landmarks inspirational to the fictional world of Harry Potter. In London, King’s Cross Station hosted the infamous Platform 9 3/4 , Leadenhall Market hosted Diagon Alley and The Ministry of Magic was in Great Scotland Yard.
All of the Harry Potter movies were largely filmed at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire where many of the elaborate sets were inspired by actual historical buildings throughout the United Kingdom. Renamed as Warner Brothers Studio, the world of Harry Potter has been open to the public since 2012.
The Harry Potter franchise has inspired entire theme parks, but England and the United Kingdom remain Harry’s true home and continues to attract a significant tourism segment beguiled by the world of Hogwarts, magic and muggles.
The Fantasy of Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings brought a much-loved fantasy trilogy to the big screen and the incredibly varied landscapes of New Zealand to a global audience.
A small town on the North Island, Matamata, hosts the astonishing Hobbiton set that includes Bag End, Bilbo’s house, Hobbit gardens and the Green Dragon Inn.
In the center of the North Island is New Zealand’s first and largest national park, Tongariro National Park, with many sacred Maori sites and also some of the films’ most iconic locations. Mount Ngauruhoe, a stunningly desolate volcano doubled as Mount Doom, while Mangawhero Falls was the backdrop of the Ithilien Camp.
On the South Island the area surrounding Queenstown also provided a number of locations during filming. The remote and beautiful Mt. Potts high country station was transformed into Edoras, the capital of the Rohan people.
Almost 20 years after the release of the first of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand’s burgeoning tourism industry continues to benefit from fans of a mythical world and the country’s landscapes that inspired it.
Star Wars on Lake Como
Lake Como, just 50 km north of Milan, Italy boasts some of the most idyllic and picturesque scenes in the world framed with elegant lakeside villas, the old yet trendy villages of Lecco, Bellagio, Varenna, and Tremezzina, winding small roads all surrounded by the towering Italian Alps.
The deep blue waters of Lake Como and the surreal beauty around it provided the locations for the 2002 release of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, a perfect setting for other worldly Naboo.
Villa del Balbianello, one of the countless glamorous lakeshore villas was transformed into Varykino where the romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala captured the imagination of a generation of film buffs.
This film may not have had as significant an impact on the real-world location as other franchises have, but perhaps it attracted one of Lake Como’s most famous and recent residents, the actor and heartthrob, George Clooney.
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