Acclaimed director Wes Anderson has a visual style of his own, which is even recognizable for people who have never seen one of his films. His distinct use of vibrant pastel colors, intricate symmetry, catchy music, and quirky mise en scène has often been both imitated and parodied.
Anderson’s carefully chosen filming locations are characters unto themselves, with many of those real-life places inspiring the fictional settings featured in Anderson’s screenwriting. Even now, Wes Anderson is on location in Spain filming his highly anticipated ensemble rom-com Asteroid City, set to be released in 2022.
As the main filming location for The Grand Budapest Hotel, this little-known town on the border between Poland and Germany is now firmly in the Instagram hall of fame. Görlitz has also served as a filming location for Inglourious Basterds and The Book Thief. Both Hollywood directors and travel bloggers alike swoon over this town’s perfectly preserved Baroque architecture complete with vibrant pastel colors.
The old Art Nouveau style Görlitz Department Store, which had been sitting virtually abandoned for a number of years, was taken over by Wes Anderson, who transformed it into the interior set of the Grand Budapest Hotel itself, even creating hotel rooms out of the old store galleries. The Görlitz Department Store is set to reopen in the next few years, after extensive renovations.
Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, this small medieval town was chosen by Wes Anderson as one of the main filming locations in his upcoming 2022 film Asteroid City. The unique central plaza is totally enclosed by teal green balconied houses where bullfights are regularly held. While it’s not immediately clear what the film’s plot will be, the various sets around Chinchón indicate a classic old west town setting.
Those wanting to visit Chinchón can either make it an easy day trip from Madrid or even stay overnight at the Parador de Chinchón, a luxury hotel built in a renovated former monastery in the center of the old town.
Karlovy Vary, Czechia
Formally known as the spa town of Karlsbad, Karlovy Vary was one of the principal real-life inspirations for Wes Anderson’s take on central Europe in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wander around Karlovy Vary and fans will truly feel like they’ve stepped into a Wes Anderson film set.
Even the town’s two main hotels, The Grand Hotel Pupp and The Palace Bristol Hotel, were the real-world models for the Grand Budapest Hotel, complete with the same intricate Baroque façades, opulent interiors, and stunning pink pastel color schemes. The Grand Hotel Pupp was also the filming location for the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale, where it stood in for the casino itself.
Rhode Island, United States
The smallest state in the USA, what Rhode Island lacks in size it makes up in stunning scenery, from its white-sand beaches to its secluded coves, and densely forested islands. The various islands that make up Rhode Island served as both the filming location and inspiration for Wes Anderson’s coming-of-age film Moonrise Kingdom.
The fictional island of New Penzance, the setting for the film, was inspired by a combination of Conanicut Island and Prudence Island. The famous lighthouse home of Suzy’s parents called “Summer’s End” is a real former lighthouse now a private residence on the northern end of Conanicut Island.
Known as the “Land of Kings”, Rajasthan state of northern India served as both the real-life inspiration and filming location for The Darjeeling Limited, one of Wes Anderson’s lesser-known films, which is no less Andersonian in its style, tone, and ensemble cast. Most of the film was shot in the historic city of Jodhpur in central Rajasthan.
Ancient and colorful, many of Jodhpur’s buildings are painted sky blue, and rising above them is the grand Mehrangarh Fort set atop a steep butte, overlooking the city below. The Fort and its opulent interior are now a museum and can be visited. The Himalaya scenes in the film were shot in Udaipur, another historic city in Rajasthan state.
While not specifically featured in a Wes Anderson film, the Vestland region of Norway feels like a perfect combination between the settings of Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The old timber village of Lærdalsøyri feels particularly Andersonian in its colorful quirkiness.
Visitors can also take the historic Flåm railway, as it snakes through steep mountain passes dotted with towering waterfalls and cute little villages. Travelers can then overnight in Bergen, the historic capital of the region, and explore the narrow lanes of its historic harbor area.
While Dresden was firebombed by the allies during WWII, the city rose from the ashes and rebuilt itself back to its pre-war elegance. It is for that reason that Wes Anderson decided to film a number of scenes from The Grand Budapest Hotel around this German city.
One such location is the Zwinger Palace, which was the setting for the tense cat and mouse chase between Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe (in one of his best roles). Another location viewers might recognize is the 19th century Dresdner Molkerei cheese shop which stood in for the chocolate shop in which Agatha worked.
In Wes Anderson’s latest film, The French Dispatch, Anderson sought to create a hyper-stylized version of 1960s Paris through the fictional town of Ennui-sur-Blasé.
In order to achieve this, Anderson did not film in Paris, but rather in Angoulême, a smaller city in southwestern France, because of its well-preserved architecture which mimicked Paris of the 1960s. For example, the building that stood in for the French dispatch office of the fictional Kansas newspaper from the film is located on Pl. Saint-Pierre in front of the Angoulême’s cathedral.
New York City, United States
One of Wes Anderson’s most popular films, The Royal Tenenbaums, was filmed in and around New York City. Anderson wanted to create a “quintessentially New York story” while specifically avoiding locations that would be identifiable as “New York”.
The famous Tenenbaum house is a real building called the Charles H. Tuttle Mansion, on 339 Convent Avenue located in the Harlem neighborhood, while the Tenenbaum’s summer house can be found on 21 Tier Street on the west coast of City Island in The Bronx. The scene where Royal stays at the luxury hotel was filmed at the famous Waldorf Astoria, which is set to reopen after its lengthy renovations in early 2023.
Berner Oberland, Switzerland
This fairytale region of Switzerland was the inspiration for much of the alpine aesthetics in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Audiences will recognize the Sphinx Observatory, set high atop the Jungfraujoch, as the model for the mountaintop observatory visited by M. Gustave and Zero in the film.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley is particularly stunning, with its steep peaks, green meadows, and many waterfalls. While popular all year round, the Berner Oberland region rewards visitors who go off the beaten path and discover its charms in the small villages in high alpine meadows, like the storybook village of Gimmelwald.
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