20 Star Wars locations you can visit in real life

8 of 21

Tikal, Guatemala

Yavin IV makes its first appearance in Star Wars in A New Hope, as the location of the rebel base where Han and Luke (and more annoyingly, not Chewbacca) receive their medals for helping to destroy the Death Star.

Its real-life location is Tikal, in Guatemala. The city is an ancient Mayan ruin, with many pyramid-shaped temples whose summits tower over the surrounding trees, details you also might remember from the scene where the Millennium Falcon arrives towards the end of A New Hope.

The rebel outpost that can also be seen in that shot was made from trash cans stuck on a pole, and poor special effects artist Lorne Peterson became the rebel who had to sit in this worryingly thrown-together nest. Clearly, he is a man truly committed to his art.

Tikal is a large archeological site and Star Wars fans wishing to visit will not find themselves alone, as many tourists go there to see the Mayan city every year. StarWars.com notes that if you go early you might get to see spider monkeys and other wildlife. It’s apparently noted for its toucans.

Also, as The Culture Trip points out, you can actually climb Temple IV to see the sweeping view over which the Falcon flies and really feel as if you’re living in the Star Wars universe, or at the very least, watching the movie in 4D.

Newer Star Wars fans also have a reason to visit Tikal. That part of A New Hope was shot in Guatemala has also had an impact on the sequels.

Oscar Isaac, who plays hotshot pilot Poe Dameron in the most recent Star Wars movies, was born is Guatemala, and once he realized that it stood in for Yavin IV, the planetary moon was written in as Poe Dameron’s homeland, and that of his parents Shara and Kes.

So visit Tikal, see the sights and look for Poe Dameron. He won’t be there, he’s filming right now, but still … anywhere Poe Dameron has been is a place worth visiting.