6 great medieval filming locations around the world

Written By Esther Cooke
July 4, 2024
image of a castle in a medieval filming location

Medieval locations are hugely popular filming locations for epic fantasies, historical films and period dramas, thanks to their fairytale-like castles, imposing fortifications and charming cobblestone streets.

In the Middle Ages, these medieval towns were hubs of activity, commerce, and culture, with a bustling marketplace square in the centre where merchants from far and wide would gather to buy, sell, and trade. You'll notice similarities between them, the streets surrounding the open squares are a labyrinth of tightly packed buildings and towering above them are the imposing walls and defences that protect the town.

In this article, we explore some of the most iconic medieval filming locations around the globe that have featured on screens from James Bond films to Game of Thrones.

Contents

  1. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
  2. Mdina, Malta
  3. Carcassonne, France
  4. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
  5. Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
  6. Dubrovnik, Croatia

1. Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Featured in: Highlander, The World is Not Enough, and Stardust

Medieval Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland at dusk
Photo by Graeme Travers

Eilean Donan Castle is a picturesque and historic landmark situated on a small tidal island in the Scottish Highlands. This iconic castle, dating back to the 13th century, stands at the point where three great sea lochs meet, creating a breathtaking and dramatic setting. The castle's strategic location has made it an important stronghold throughout Scotland's past, surviving numerous attacks and sieges over the centuries.

Today, the castle's beautifully restored exterior and interior captivate visitors from around the world, offering a glimpse into Scotland's rich cultural heritage. As you approach the castle, you'll be struck by its impressive stone walls, towers, and arched bridge that connects the island to the mainland. Step inside and you'll find an array of well-preserved medieval rooms and chambers, each adorned with intricate stonework, tapestries, and other period furnishings.

The picture perfect castle has been used in many films such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough. Fans of the 1980s fantasy film Highlander may also recognize the castle as the seat of Clan MacLeod and the home of the protagonist, Connor MacLeod, played by Christopher Lambert.

For more impressive historical locations, explore 'Bridgerton' top filming locations in England.

2. Mdina, Malta

Featured in: Game of Thrones, Captain Phillips and Gladiator

the narrow medieval streets of Mdina, Malta
Photo by Ivan Dražić

Mdina, the ancient walled city of Malta, is a captivating and well-preserved medieval town looking over the island. Often referred to as the "Silent City," Mdina's rich history dates back over 4,000 years, with its origins as a Phoenician settlement giving way to a period of Roman rule and later Baroque architectural flourishes under the Knights of St. John. Today, Mdina's narrow, winding streets are a delight to explore, surrounded by impressive limestone buildings and grand palaces.

The city's stunning baroque cathedral, the imposing bastions that line its perimeter, and its labyrinth of charming, car-free lanes have all been featured on the big screen, showcasing Mdina's versatility as a filming location capable of standing in for settings from Game of Thrones to the 2004 epic Troy.

3. Carcassonne, France

Featured in: Robin Hood: Price of Thieves, Labyrinth (mini-series), The Visitors

Medieval walled city of Carcassonne in FrNCE
Photo by Idriss Chaïr

Perched atop a hill overlooking the Aude River, the iconic walled city of Carcassonne in southern France dates back to the 5th century and is renowned for its imposing ring of concentric walls, towers, and battlements that have stood the test of time. As you wander the cobblestone streets within the ancient citadel, you'll be awed by the striking juxtaposition of the old and the new, with modern shops, restaurants, and residences nestled alongside centuries-old structures. The crown jewel is undoubtedly the impressive Château Comtal, a 12th-century castle keep that offers sweeping views over the entire city and the surrounding Languedoc countryside. Carcassonne's well-preserved medieval architecture and fortifications have earned it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The impressive castle within the stone walls has been a popular filming spot, it stood in for the fictional Nottingham Castle in the 1991 adventure film Robin Hood: Price of Thieves starring Kevin Costner and the series The Last Templar (2009) set in medieval France, where the castle featured heavily.

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4. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Featured in: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm

Medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany
Photo by ipekpinc

In the heart of Bavaria, Germany, the picturesque town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber stands as a true jewel of medieval architecture. Surrounded by a remarkably well-preserved city wall dating back to the 13th century, Rothenburg transports visitors to a bygone era, with its cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and towering churches that seem plucked straight from the pages of a storybook. If you stroll through the town's winding lanes, you'll be captivated by the meticulously restored Renaissance and Baroque buildings that line the streets, each one a testament to the skilled craftsmanship of the region's artisans. The centre of Rothenburg is the Marktplatz, or market square, dominated by the imposing Town Hall and its iconic clock tower, which chimes to life several times a day in a delightful display. 

The town's medieval city walls, towers, and gatehouses have been featured in films like the fantasy adventure Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 where Gellert Grindelwald robs the wand from the house of Gregorovitch. Rothenburg's quaint, fairytale-like atmosphere has also made it a popular location for Hallmark Christmas movies, with its cosy holiday markets and snow-dusted rooftops providing a magical, storybook-worthy setting. 

5. Ait Benhaddou, Morocco

Featured in: Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and Game of Thrones

Medieval fortified city of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco
Photo by Mustafa Ünal

Ait Benhaddou is a captivating and well-preserved fortified city situated along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in Morocco. This ancient ksar, a group of earthen buildings within defensive walls, dates back to the 11th century and stands as a remarkable example of traditional architecture. Perched atop a small hill overlooking the Ounila River, the city's striking structures feature thick, high walls and ornate, intricate designs crafted from a combination of clay, straw, and other natural materials.

From the sweeping desert vistas to the maze of clay structures, Ait Benhaddou transports viewers to a bygone era, making it the perfect choice for period pieces, fantasy epics, and stories set in the Saharan desert. Its well-preserved architecture and timeless aesthetic have lent an air of authenticity to films as diverse as Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, Gladiator, and Game of Thrones.

For more exotic locations, check out 10 iconic desert film locations around the world.

6. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Featured in: Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Robin Hood.

Medieval walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia
Photo by Spencer Davis

Situated on the stunning Adriatic coast, this walled, medieval city boasts a wealth of breathtaking architecture, from the grand, limestone-clad buildings of the Old Town to the imposing, fortress-like city walls that have stood for centuries. The UNESCO World Heritage site, with its sparkling azure waters and rugged, mountainous backdrop, has made it a prime destination for filmmakers seeking a location that exudes timeless European charm and grandeur.

Over recent years, Dubrovnik has played host to several high profile productions, from the fantasy epic Game of Thrones which utilised the city's ancient streets and landmarks to create the fictional city of King's Landing, to the action-packed James Bond film Casino Royale, which showcased Dubrovnik's picturesque harbour and dramatic cliffs.

For more coastal locations, check out 10 famous beach locations for filming.

That's a wrap

So there you have it, just a few examples of the best medieval architecture around the world, that have captured imaginations. These awe inspiring medieval filming locations are perfect settings for historical, fantasy and medieval films and we hope they will inspire your next TV or film production.

For more location inspiration, explore 10 stunning UK 'Doctor Who' filming locations.

Need a place to store your shoot locations?

SuperScout is your own private location library – upload locations in minutes, tag them with ai in seconds, then search and share with your team

SuperScout is a private, cloud-based locations library to help location managers, scouts and film schools store, search and share locations for film, tv and video productions.
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