Where was Raiders of the Lost Ark filmed? All the Indiana Jones Filming Locations

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Although much of the film is set in Egypt, Raiders of the Lost Ark was primarily filmed in Tunisia, with additional locations in California, Hawaii, and France.

As with Romancing the Stone, returning to the first Indiana Jones movie was a pleasant surprise. After so many years, I discovered that it is still a great adventure film with the perfect blend of action and comedy.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Having watched this flick dozens of times in my childhood, as an adult I can now not only recall many of the legendary scenes, but also appreciate the excellent photography, editing, and overall quality of this classic film directed by Steven Spielberg.

As creator and story writer George Lucas commented, "The script came out better than expected, everything just sort of came together and was brilliant".

Here is our comprehensive guide to all the filming locations of Raiders of the Lost Ark in order of appearance, along with the most interesting facts about the movie.

You'll also find a wonderful article revealing all the locations where Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was filmed following this link.


Where was Indiana Jones filmed?

Raiders of the Lost Ark Paramount mountain
In the 2012 behind-the-scenes video, producer Frank Marshall explains how insistent Spielberg was on finding a peak to match the Paramount logo for the opening shot of Mount Shubet, a real mountain in the Peruvian jungle.

Since the movie is set in the 1930s, they found Kalalea Mountain on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, and used the old 1940s logo to give the film an old-fashioned look.
(You can open all the locations on Google Maps by clicking on the links below in the captions ↴)
  Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures - Map


Raiders of the Lost Ark location
The tense scene where the hero's face is finally revealed was filmed at Kipu Falls at Kipu Ranch.

It is possible to visit this private ranch and take an off-road vehicle tour to see the landscapes where this movie and Jurassic Park were filmed.
Image courtesy of Paramount and Google Maps


Golden idol temple Indiana Jones
However, the interior of the Chachapoyan golden idol temple was a set built at Elstree Studios near London in the United Kingdom.

Spielberg had the idea of the giant boulder chasing Indy before he gets out of the cave.

Made out of fiberglass, the 22-foot (6.7 meters) ball was heavy enough to hurt Ford if he had tripped.
Image courtesy of Paramount - Map


Indiana Jones hydroplane
The hydroplane scene (which inspired the Atlas of Wonders logo) was shot on the Huleia River, also on the grounds of Kipu Ranch.

You can play with a rope swing at the same spot where Indy jumps into the water.
Image courtesy of Paramount - Map


Barnett College
Back in civilization, Indiana Jones is a sort of Clark Kent teaching archaeology to a committed audience at Barnett College in Fairfield, New York.

The Conservatory of Music building at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, served as the exterior facade.
Image courtesy of Paramount and Google Maps


The Royal Masonic School for Girls
Marcus Brody (played by Denholm Elliott), along with two Army Intelligence agents inform Jones that the Germans have discovered the ancient city of Tanis. They are searching for the mythical Ark of the Covenant.

Located about 15 miles away from the studios in England, the Great Hall of the Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, served as the classroom.
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures - Map


Indiana Jones house
The Nothing But Nostalgia website revealed that the Jones house is located at 38 Alder Avenue in San Anselmo, California.

Built in 1925, the four-bedroom, 2,531-square-foot home has an estimated market value of about $2.3 million, according to Redfin.
Image courtesy of Paramount and Google Maps


China Clipper airplane
The background of the China Clipper airplane in San Francisco was a painting created using the matte painting technique. This allowed the filmmakers to recreate realistic sets that combined live-action footage in the pre-CGI world.

The seaplane, a British Short Mark III Solent, was filmed at the Richmond Yacht Club but is currently on display at the Oakland Aviation Museum in California.

If you visit the museum, you'll see that the interior is the same as the one Indy sits in before flying via Manila to Nepal.
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures - Maps: Richmond / Oakland


Marion Ravenwood bar in Nepal
Karen Allen played Marion Ravenwood, the spirited former lover of Jones, who ran a bar in Nepal.

The establishing shot, pictured, was also a painted landscape set, created with matte painting.

The interior of the bar, where disgusting Gestapo agent, Toht (played by Ronald Lacey) is looking for the medallion, was also filmed at the studios in England.


Raiders of the Lost Ark Cairo
The pair travels to Cairo in Egypt, where they are welcomed by Jones' friend, Sallah (John Rhys-Davies).

This section of the movie was filmed in the old medina of Kairouan in Tunisia, Islam's fourth holiest city.

The film crew had to manually remove between 200 and 300 TV antennas and wires to shoot the scene pictured in the veranda. At the time they had no CGI to remove them digitally!
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures - Map


Raiders of the Lost Ark city
Movie-locations.com reported that most of the shoot took place around the central Avenue 7 Novembre, where the Marhala Bar, now a carpet store, is located.

During the four and a half weeks in Tunisia, Spielberg subsisted on canned food brought from the UK - most of the cast and crew eating in the hotels got sick.
Image courtesy of Paramount - Map


Swordsman scene
The iconic swordsman scene was filmed on Place Zarrouk (or J'raba Square).

Harrison Ford had the idea to end the duel quickly with one shot for a scene that was scripted to be a long, elaborate fight between the two.

This old blog page included this map covering some key locations in the maze of alleyways that is Kairouan.
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures - Maps: Square / Alley


Ancient City of Tanis
The Tanis digging site was a huge set built near the desert town of Tozeur and the oasis of Nefta in the south of Tunisia.

This is the same area where George Lucas shot the first Star Wars movie in 1976.

The filmmaking team, who endured temperatures of up to 130 degrees (54 °C), worked with 600 local extras on a 70-acre set, as The Raider informed.
Image courtesy of Lucas Film - Map


Well of Souls
The secret chamber called the Well of Souls is one of the possible resting places of the Ark of the Covenant.

The interior, filled up with 6500 real snakes (and some fake ones too), and the Imam's house were built at Elstree Studios.


Bantu Wind
The boat and the submarine were the first Indiana Jones scenes ever filmed.

The filmmakers found an old boat in Ireland to play the 1930s-era tramp steamer Bantu Wind, which was brought to the French west coast near La Rochelle.

Harrison Ford came up with the famous line, “It's not the years, honey. It's the mileage”.
Image courtesy of Paramount - Map


U-Boat submarine base
The submarine base in the Aegean Sea was filmed in a real former WW2 U Boat Bunker designed to house the Kriegsmarine's 3rd U-Boats squadron in La Rochelle.

Have you watched the great 1981 German movie Das Boot? instead of building a submarine from scratch, the producers rented the boat that had already been made for that movie.
Image courtesy of Paramount - Map


Sidi Bouhlel Canyon
The canyon where Indy is about to blow up the Ark is the Sidi Bouhlel Canyon located on the outskirts of Tozeur.

This is the same location where R2-D2 is captured by the Jawas in Star Wars - A New Hope.
Image courtesy of Paramount - Map


Ark of the Covenant scene
The Ark's opening scene was, for many actors, their first experience acting to nothing. They had to be talked through every moment to get an idea of how to react to the flying spirits that were added later in post-production.

The whole sequence was recorded at the studios near London. The establishing shot on the Greek island was also done via matte painting.


J├Ąger des verlorenen Schatzes drehorte
The building back in Washington, D.C., for the brief meeting with the government men, was filmed at the Rickmansworth Masonic School, but the staircase is the magnificent San Francisco City Hall, built in 1915.
Image courtesy of Paramount - Map


Ark of the Covenant warehouse
The impressive final scene of the massive warehouse where the Ark was to be examined by "top men" was painted on glass at Industrial Light & Magic, combined with footage of a man carrying it.


Can you help to improve this article about the filming locations of Raiders of the Lost Ark? To complete and correct this report, any feedback, info, or images that you may have are more than welcome, thank you!

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1 comment:

1- Anonymous - Jul 3, 2023, 5:17 AM
Great article and story!


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