The visuals authors describe in their novels often reaches stunning levels, particularly with fantasy fiction. With stunning backdrops to breathtaking stories, it can be hard to bring new worlds to life on screen. Sometimes, the individuals behind television shows and films decide to use studios and computer-generate imagery to bring the story locations to life. However, quite a few also choose to employ locations in our real world. Sometimes, they do not change the original location at all. Other times, they choose to enhance the real location with CGI.

Many of these adaptations show stunning locations around our world. Just looking at the pictures is enough to spark wanderlust in just about everyone.

I have compiled a list of some of the real world locations for some iconic moments in film and television adaptations of books. Let your travel bug awaken.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle is located in Northumberland, England. It has appeared as a location in films and television shows many different times. Perhaps the most famous appearance, however, is as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films. You can catch in scenes like Harry’s first flying lesson and the crash landing of the Ford Anglia.


So that is what it looks like on film, but what about when no crews are around? The castle is still majestic, of course. This is what you will see if you visit:


Mount Ngauruhoe

Mount Ngauruhoe, for those who may not know, is an active stratovolcano on the North Island of New Zealand. Its first eruption was 2500 years ago. Its latest eruption was in 1977.  It is part of the Tongariro volcanic complex, and sits between Mount Tongariro to the North and Mount Ruapehu to the south. It is also close to the southern short of Lake Taupo, the volcanic caldera.


This is what it looked like in May 2015 when I stood there in New Zealand, staring at it with my own two eyes. Let me tell you, that sight took my breath away. Why? Not only is that an amazing sight in itself, but I had done research and it told me that Mount Ngauruhoe is a famous volcano, though you may not know it. Peter Jackson used this volcano in the three Lord of the Rings films as Mount Doom (though they also filmed on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu). It looked like this in the films:


Astonishing, right?

Tawahi Falls

Tawhai Falls is in Tongariro National Park, as are the volcanoes I just talked about. The falls are simple and many may say unassuming in the grand scheme of things. However, one of the attendants at the hotel my family stayed at (Chateau Tongariro) mentioned that we could walk to Tawhai Falls and that they were used in The Lord of the Rings as The Forbidden Pool, which is where Gollum catches his fish, sings the song, and where Frodo looks down on him with Faramir.

In real life, it looks like this:


This is what it looks like in the film:


Azure Window, Malta

I have never been to Malta, but sights like the Azure Window really make me wish to go. Of course, the fact that a portion of my heritage is Maltese may also have something to do with it. Although the Azure Window is not, as far as I am aware, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I do know that Malta has three of them, including an entire city.


So where might you have seen the Azure Window before, even if you have never been to Malta? In the ever popular Game of Thrones television series on HBO! They used it as a backdrop in the first season, for Daenerys’ and Khal Drogo’s wedding. This is what they showed onscreen:


It is not that far off from the way it looks in reality, is it? Just a bit dustier, in my view.


I could give you quote a few locations within Mdina—Malta’s Silent City—that Game of Thrones used. In the first season, Mdina was the onscreen representation for most of King’s Landing. I do not know that there is one location more important than the other, but for this article I will share one iconic one. The Mdina gates were the entrance into King’s Landing, and the location where Ned and Catelyn said goodbye.

In real life, they look like this:


In the show, they appeared like this:


There are countless real world filming locations out there, of course, and I could not include all of them on my list. I stumbled across another Lord of the Rings filming location in New Zealand (the fields of Rohan) and I very nearly included Skellig Michael Island on this list, which appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But of course, that one was not an adaptation, so I had to take it out. Nevertheless, I think this list shows just a fraction of the beauty our world contains.

Out of this list, where do you want to go the most? Have you been to one of these locations? What was it like there? I want to hear all about it! Have you visited other real world locations from your favourite films?  Tell me about those ones as well!


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