Hollywood and Bollywood aren’t the only places where cinematic dreams are born.
Photograph by Franco Cogoli, SOPA RF/Redux
This list was first published in the book The World's Best Cities.
The hills were indeed alive with the sound of music when the much beloved movie was shot on location in and around Salzburg in 1964. Filming took place at the city’s Mirabell Gardens, Nonnberg Abbey, and Felsenreitschule.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Photograph by Yadid Levy, Anzenberger/Redux
The Riviera city-state has served as a backdrop for many memorable movies, from the Alfred Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief (1955) to several James Bond 007 spy flicks. Not to mention its Hollywood royalty: Princess Grace.
Photograph by KEENPRESS, National Geographic
A 1942 movie with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman transformed Casablanca from an obscure North African seaport into a global cinematic icon. Visitors still arrive in the Moroccan city expecting to find the fictional Rick’s Café and Blue Parrot.
Wellington, New Zealand
Photograph by Xinhua/eyevine/Redux
New Zealand’s seaside capital has been host to a slew of movies and TV shows, but it was hometown boy and director Peter Jackson who put the city on the map. He shot all three Lord of the Rings movies here, plus The Hobbit (2012) and King Kong (2005). Among other “Wellywood” productions, both from 2009: blockbuster Avatar and The Lovely Bones.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Photograph by Steve Snowden, Getty
Breaking Bad (2008–2013) and In Plain Sight (2008–2012) are among dozens of TV shows filmed in the New Mexico metropolis. With eight giant sound stages, Albuquerque Studios now rivals the major L.A. studios in the number of movies and series that were shot there.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Photograph by James Nachtwey, National Geographic
The South African metropolis has appeared as both itself (2009’s Invictus) and other places (2004’s Hotel Rwanda). Even though it pitted aliens against humans, the 2009 sci-fi hit District 9 was a metaphor for Johannesburg under apartheid.
Fargo, North Dakota
Photograph by Chris Putnam, Alamy
The dark comedy and cult classic Fargo (1996) turned this sleepy Dakota city into a household name. Though the look and feel of the movie say Fargo, in reality only a few exterior shots were filmed in the city.
Photograph by Krista Rossow, National Geographic
Baltimore-born director Barry Levinson shot several steeped-in-nostalgia films in the Raven City, including Diner (1982) and Avalon (1990). The city’s grittier side is center screen on TV’s The Wire and Homicide. Fun fact: Baltimore doubles for Washington, D.C., in much of the hit TV series House of Cards.
Photograph by Christian Heeb, laif/Redux
Atlanta blazed to fame in the epic Gone with the Wind (1939). In recent years the state capital has bloomed into a TV hub where shows like The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries are filmed.
Photograph by Toni Anzenberger, Anzenberger/Redux
Naples’s long love affair with cinema started in 1915 with the silent classic Assunta Spina. A century later, hundreds of movies have been shot or set in this southern Italian city and its surroundings, from the action-packed The Bourne Supremacy (2004) to the volcanic disaster epic Pompeii (2014).
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