Thirty-five years ago, a rogue adventurer/archeology professor named Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) burst onto the silver screen. While carefully taking a sacred gold statue from the depths of an ancient temple, he also managed to steal the hearts of movie goers everywhere. Created as a collaboration between George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Indy would go on to spawn three sequels, a short-lived TV show, and countless side adventures. After 35 years, Raiders of the Lost Ark still stands out as one of cinema’s all-time classics. Of course, no adventure epic would be complete without some globe-trotting, so for those of you who are Indiana Jones obsessives and those who are just looking for a cool trip somewhere in the name of adventure, here’s a rundown of the filming locations you should make it a point to visit.
La Rochelle, France
When Spielberg needed to recreate the look of a WWII-era U-Boat base, he went straight to the source: the docks at La Rochelle, France, which were used by the Nazis throughout their occupation. The submarine used on set, which was rented from the set of Wolfgang Peterson’s Das Boot, was actually in use throughout the Second World War.
That same port is still a popular tourist attraction for the town of La Rochelle, located on the west coast of France. The town fancies itself a welcoming, lively city, boasting architecture from the 17th & 18th centuries. It also offers several museums, boat rides, the La Rochelle Aquarium, and its two remarkable towers — the St. Nicolas Tower and the Tower of the Chain — on either side of the port entrance.
Standing in for the jungles of Peru in the film’s elaborate opening sequence was the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Indy’s frantic escape from the massive boulder was filmed nearby at the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, a 241-acre protected region to help preserve Hawaii’s wetlands and endangered waterbirds.
While the Wildlife Refuge is strictly off-limits to people, the island of Kauai, also known as the island of discovery, is most definitely not. Kauai invites tourists to come take part in its abundance of kayaking, hiking, and pool-drop waterfalls.
Tozeur & Kairuoan, Tunisia
Tunisia plays the role of Egypt throughout Raiders, with the canyon near Tozeur being picked as the location where Indy threatens to blow up the ark (this is the same canyon where R2D2 got ambushed by Jawas in Star Wars). Kairuoan is best remembered as the location where Indy opted to not engage in a swordfight with a local mercenary, choosing to, instead, simply shoot him. You know the scene.
Tourism in Tozeur is welcomed, but it’s not easy to get there. Tunisia’s own tourism site states that Tozeur “is a place which would be teeming with tourists if it was easy to get to, but remains largely unspoiled yet with good facilities for the tourists who do come here.” The easiest way to travel there is via overnight train from the city of Tunis. Once there, you have the opportunity to travel to the Sahara Desert via camel.
The city of Kairuoan is much less remote and much easier to access, despite there being no train or international airport. As the fourth-most holy city in Islam, it’s a regular destination for holy pilgrimage. Dating back to the year 670, the town’s most well-known feature, The Medina, was used prominently in Raiders. It’s also home to The Great Mosque, one of the oldest houses of worship in all of Islam. Non-Muslims are not allowed in the prayer hall but are welcomed to take in the architectural wonder from the outside.
Hertfordshire County, England
He might have been a fearless adventurer (minus the snakes), but Indiana Jones was first and foremost an archeology professor. His classroom, where one female student famously wrote him a love note on her eyelids, was actually filmed at The Royal Masonic School For Girls in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, England. The location shows up again in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The real Hertfordshire offers up a little bit of everything, from sprawling country estates, to garden towns, and plenty of outlet malls. The area also has scores of landmarks that go back several centuries. In addition to the two Indiana Jones films, the location was also used prominently in the Harry Potter franchise. Unlike the towns in Tunisia, Hertfordshire is accessible through several major roads and railways across the United Kingdom.
There’s a scene near the end of the movie where Indy and Marion (Karen Allen) descend down a staircase set in Washington D.C., discussing their relationship. In reality, it’s a staircase located inside the City Hall of San Francisco. The exterior of Indy’s home was filmed just to the north, in San Rafael, Calif., also located in the Bay Area.
The City Hall has been open to the public since 1915, when it replaced the building that was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. San Francisco, and the Bay Area as a whole, is known as one of the world’s great cities, with everything from Victorian homes and cable cars, to the Napa Valley Wine country, and the cutting edge technology of Silicon Valley. While getting to the ‘City by the Bay’ is easy, the hard part is figuring out which of the city’s many iconic attractions you want to see when you get there.
Indy’s classroom may have been filmed in England, but the campus of the college where he taught was located in Stockton, Calif. Specifically, at the University of the Pacific. It’s one of a few films that’s utilized Stockton’s location for the silver screen over the years.
Stockton prides itself on being a flavorful and diverse Northern California city. There’s no shortage of things to do, from the Children’s Museum, to farmer’s market, to the city’s very active nightlife. No ancient temples or pool-drop waterfalls, though. Sometimes a more sedate adventure is nice too.