I have to thank a guest of mine, Lexie, for coming out with the unexpected observation that sparked this post.
After some island hopping, she was back in Athens to catch her flight home and we got together for a chat over breakfast. Describing her stay in Oia, Santorini, she suddenly said “Isn’t it just like Tatooine?” I was flabbergasted: the observation was so obvious that I was surprised I hadn’t seen it myself earlier.
Both Santorini and Tunisia (where the Tatooine scenes were shot) have a hot and arid climate and a lack of tree cover. Similar problems lead to similar solutions: in both areas, houses have few openings and thick stone walls that insulate from the heat. The lack of beams for roofs meant that walls are spanned by means of domes or arches. There are of course several differences, but the similarity is striking nevertheless.
Santorini, despite its dramatic landscape, lacks deserts and canyons, but there are some other places in Greece that could easily serve as backdrops for, say, a pod race or a raid by the Sandpeople.
Having settled the Tatooine issue, Lexie and I started thinking of what other places we had seen during our tour in Greece that looked like Star Wars locations and thought of quite a few. After we parted, I added some more to the list. Then I searched on the web for photos of Star Wars locations, kicked myself for not having digitized my old-format pictures and searched some more for familiar Greek landscapes. Finally, I made an alphabetical list of all the pairs, which you can see here:
Known for its pristine nature and breathtaking landscapes, Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star. However, princess Leia would find herself quite at home in the rocky ranges of Greece, with their many snowy peaks:
The location for the green planet of the Ewoks was the redwood forests of California. Greek forests may not boast such giants, but they more than make up for it in beauty and variety.
The striking volcanic landscapes of Nisyros and Santorini were the only ones that fit the description of this geologically strange, desert planet.
In a country full of mountains, it is not hard to find snow-covered peaks, slopes and valleys.
On their planet, Wookies, like Chewbacca, live on huge trees. I wonder if this one, in Corfu, would serve the purpose.
This planet is much more like home. One Naboo city is famously perched at the edge of a cliff, surrounded by waterfalls. It could have been in Epirus, not far from my mother’s village:
And of course, who can forget the beautiful lakeside villa where Amidala and Anakin got married? My personal choice of location for this one would be the lake of Ioannina. I spent four memorable years studying archaeology in its University and its lakeshore is an old haunt of mine. Besides, these domes are real, not CGI.
But although a favorite, this is by no means the only lake in Greece:
There are many breathtaking landscapes all around Greece. Let’s hope that with the current trend of wholesale and unrestrained “development” in the name of the “crisis” these beautiful places will not end up looking like the urban sprawl of Coruscant:
Note 1: Most of the images above were found on the internet. Some were cropped to fit together. The captions contain links to the sites where they were found. All rights belong to their authors.
Note 2: The only Star Wars landscape Greece does not have an equivalent of is Dagobah (Yoda’s planet). To my knowledge, mangrove swamps exist only in tropical climates. Ah, yes, and no volcanic Mustafar either, as one reader pointed out below.