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7 holiday destinations from Academy Award-winning films

25 February 2015 ( 10 February 2020 )

Inspired by the Academy Awards ceremony, here are some of the destinations you can visit on a Saga Holiday, that have provided the setting for some well-known films

Mirabell Palace and Gardens, featured in The Sound of Music
Mirabell Palace and Gardens, featured in The Sound of Music

Mirabell Palace, Salzburg, Austria

You are more likely to recognise the gardens of this 17th century palace, as they were used in the 1965 musical, The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. It is here that Maria and the children sing Do-Re-Mi, running around the fountain and using the steps as they sing the different notes of the scale – and you may be tempted to re-enact the scene if you visit! The film won five Academy Awards, and fans still flock to this site, but the gardens and palace itself are steeped in fascinating history and certainly worth exploring.

Popeye Village, Malta

Built in Anchor Bay especially for the 1980 live-action film Popeye starring Robin Williams, Popeye Village consists of a number of rustic-looking buildings, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Popeye comic strip! Depicted as Sweethaven Village in the film, the village has been preserved over the last three decades, and is now an open-air museum about the film and its production. The film itself received mixed reviews upon release, but its setting is still a popular tourist attraction. Malta has been the setting for more than a hundred feature films since 1925, including The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Troy (2004).

Petra, Jordan

The search for the Holy Grail in Stephen Spielberg’s 1989 action film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade concludes in the beautiful rose-red city of Petra. Here, the titular character enters the Al Khazneh, or Treasury, which has one of the most breathtaking facades in this ancient Edomite city that was carved into the sandstone over 2,400 years ago. Only accessed through a narrow chasm in the rock, the city of Petra never fails to impress those who visit.

Jaipur and Udaipur, India

Timeless India is the setting for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) and its 2015 sequel, a visit here provides the opportunity to soak up the incredible atmosphere, as well as see a number of locations related to the film. In Jaipur, you can visit the 19th-century Kanota Castle, a grand building recalling the days of the Raj and depicted as the Viceroy Club in the film. You can continue to Udaipur, where you can explore Chandpur where the market scenes were filmed, and head into the Rajasthani countryside to Ravla Khempur – which was Soony Kapoor’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the film.

Hollywood, USA

Brad Pitt landed Best Supporting Actor for his role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in the 2020 Oscars. Unsurprisingly it's not the first time a movie set in this location has won an Oscar – The Artist  is set in Hollywood and won Best Picture in 2011, albeit the 1920s rather than 1969 like Brad's movieAnnie Hall landed Best Picture in 1977 and while most of the action takes place on the east coast, Woody Allen's character, Alvy Singer, unsuccessfully proposes to Annie in a café on Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. 

Kitulgala, Sri Lanka

David Lean’s 1957 Academy Award winning World War II drama The Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed mostly near Kiulgala in Sri Lanka, despite the film being set in Thailand. The concrete foundations of the film set stand as lasting reminders of the film, just as the spectacular scene as the bridge is blown up has remained an iconic moment in film history. In 2014, it was announced that the bridge set would be rebuilt using original drawings and photos.

Huanglongxi, China

The history of this ancient town, situated near Chengdu, stretches back over 1,700 years, with many of the buildings dating from the Qing Dynasty. The curving cobbled alleys, rustic houses and impressive temples – such as Zhenjiang Temple and Gulong Temple – have appealed to filmmakers, who have used Huanglongxi for exterior scenes in many period movies. Among the most famous of these is Ang Lee’s 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards – winning four.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.