North Africa is a perfect place for filming; it has sweeping vistas, it has seas of sand, it has the Mediterranean, it has new buildings and old alleyways in ancient and bustling cities. In fact, all the attractions and opportunities that make it a great place for filming also makes North Africa great for holidays. We examine the top ten film locations that, along with the other attractions, mean that any North African holiday will be as exciting as it is exotic…
10. The English Patient
The English Patient was filmed in Mahdia and Nefta in Tunisia. The shifting sands and small oasis town feel of the locations almost became another character in the film as the love story played out over them.
9. The Life of Brian
A less straight-laced film at number 9, with Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The film was filmed almost exclusively on location in Tunisia, and includes the Amphitheatre at El Djem, the Kasbah of Sousse and several other towns and areas. One of their most controversial and best films, Brian included all the ‚Pythons‘ in various parts as well as half of ‚Goon‘ Spike Milligan. Only half of the footage with his character is actually Spike. The pythons met him and got him to film some scenes, but he himself was on a holiday in North Africa, and left to carry on his holiday with only half of his part done!
As you’d imagine, parts of this epic were filmed on location in Egypt. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor engage in epic war and love scenes close to the Pyramids and over the desert sands – a classic film, it’s low on our list because most holidays to North Africa that go to Egypt will go for the history of the Pyramids and the middle kingdom rather than to see where the stars may have stood.
7. Death on the Nile
A Peter Ustinov classic, Death on the Nile is a great film that seems almost like an advert for holidays in North Africa and Egypt all on its own! The film shows all of the main Egyptian sights, from Luxor to Giza, and is scenic and riveting.
6. Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Down was filmed almost entirely in Morocco, using many of the soldiers who were actually in the raid the film depicts. The real life battle took place in Mogadishu, but those looking for the locations on a North African holiday will enjoy trips to Kénitra Airbase and Rabbat in Morocco where the bulk of the film was made.
5. Laurence of Arabia.
With „Arabia“ in the title you’d think that this 60’s David Lean classic would have been filmed somewhere on the Arabian peninsula. However, most was filmed in Spain and several other locations such as California, Jordan, Morocco and Wales. The Moroccan aspect was filmed in Ouarzazate, a famous city in southern Morocco that is more castle or citadel than city.
A more modern epic, Gladiator also filmed several of its scenes in Ouarzazate, the ancient roman architecture fitting in with the run down province where Maximus becomes a Gladiator for the first time. Ouarzazate is well worth a visit on a Holiday in North Africa, for its own history and culture and for its long history of film production.
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones always chooses the most interesting places to go on ‚holiday‘. The North African city of Sousse was the location for some of the Raiders of the Lost Ark shoot, in particular the famous scene where Inde comes up against a sword master and lazily draws his gun and shoot him rather than get up close. There was a whole scene planned out for this fight, but Harrison Ford (and everyone else in the cast and crew apart from Spielberg) had very bad diarrhoea, and told the director „Why doesn’t he just shoot him and get it over and done with?“
2. Star Wars
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away was actually 1977 and Tunisia. The sweeping sands and rocky crags of the country made it perfect for the desert plant of Tatooine in George Lucas’s space epic, and the set for Luke Skywalker’s home is a popular tourist destination for fans on holiday in North Africa.
Casablanca is the perfect movie from North Africa, with one small problem; none of it was filmed there! While cheating a little, the film still comes number one in our list as you can visit the city and go to Rick’s Café Américain, a tribute bar in the same style as the original set. A great place and city to visit on your holidays to North Africa.