Sometimes it is hard to tell what is real and what are computer graphic images in a movie. This is thanks in part to the amazing technology of our current era, such as green screens that allow effects artists to replace real locations with a digital background. This gives filmmakers the ability to create entire worlds inside movie studios. However, there is still nothing like a real-world setting to make the movie seem authentic.
Many of those real, authentic settings from some of cinema's most iconic films are easy to visit—which makes it easy to envision yourself as the characters that turned these locations into landmarks. From Philadelphia to New Zealand, get your passport ready. Here are five of the most iconic movie sets you can visit.
Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps – Rocky
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Run up or down the iconic Rocky steps outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and really feel like a champion. As one of the greatest public iconic movie sets you can visit, you will be feeling like a champion as soon as you step foot on the stairs. Play your own soundtrack and recreate the famous scene from Rocky or pose for a picture with a Rocky Balboa statue.
Savoca, Sicily – The Godfather
The seminal classic The Godfather makes everyone who watches it keen to explore Italy (and maybe even try an Italian accent). As one of the world’s premier iconic movie sets, it is a must-see for fans of The Godfather. It is true that most of The Godfather was filmed in New York, but there were portions filmed in the old country for on-location scenes. If you are searching, check out the small coastal town of Savoca in Sicily. You can have an espresso at Bar Vitelli or walk around Piazza Fossia. Tours are available, or you can wander on your own.
Petra, Jordan – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
It is hard to believe it has been multiple decades since Indiana Jones was released. The quintessential adventure flick has inspired countless explorers to visit one site in particular, thanks in part to one key scene. Fans will immediately recognize one of the most elaborate hand-carved temples in all of Petra, Jordan. This temple is where the Holy Grail was cleverly hidden. The UNESCO World Heritage site is extremely popular. It has even created a tourist industry just for the temple. Though the location does not feature a grail, it does have plenty of wonder and mystery.
New Zealand – The Lord of the Rings
Head down under to New Zealand for one of the most breathtaking movie sets you can visit. It’s well worth the trip. Lord of the Rings fans can go on tours of various lengths. The tours cover all the film’s locations and will highlight interesting facts of the famous areas.
You can view constructed sets like Hobbiton in Matamata, which is two hours south of the capital. Then check out Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano which was the cinematic stand-in for Mount Doom. It is even possible to go behind the scenes to the director’s workshop and ponder the fate of the One Ring.
Café des 2 Moulins, Paris – Amelie
One of the most recognized international movie sets is the little café where Amelie worked, Café des 2 Moulins, which is French for "Two Windmills." This café is in the Montmartre area of Paris, and you can actually sit down and order a coffee and croissant.
The Moulin Rouge and the Moulin de la Galette are the two neighboring windmills, which serve as namesakes for the café. With its red awnings and outdoor seating, the café is a major tourist attraction during the high travel season, so plan well if you are thinking about checking it out.
Adventures await those who wish to be part of a film-themed action vacation. Make sure to do your research and call ahead to ensure the movie set of your dreams is allowing visitors.