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Travel Tips

On Location: 7 Swoon-worthy Movie Settings in Malta

What do Game of Thrones, Gladiator and a terrible 2002 rom com featuring Madonna have in common? Yup, you guessed it — they were all filmed on Malta, a sun-soaked, history-packed Mediterranean archipelago with film and TV credits worthy of an IMDB page. Below, we showcase 7 of the country's most cinematic locales, plus all the big-name celebs and directors who've filmed there.

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Azure Window

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll probably recognize this as the site of Daenery and Khal Drogo’s marriage ceremony from season one. The flat-topped natural rock — the most Instagrammed spot in Malta, by the way — has also been featured in the American mini-series The Odyssey and and the 2010 film, Clash of The Titans. If you plan on visiting, bring your swimsuit, as the spot is home to world-class snorkeling, swimming and scuba diving.

RELATED: The Best of Malta

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Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Madonna have all swam in Comino’s crystal-clear waters, and if that doesn’t make you want to the dreamy isle, we don’t know what will. Charter a speedboat to the island and see where Brangelina filmed their marital-breakdown drama, By The Sea, and where Brad filmed Troy some 10 years prior, then dive headfirst into the crystalline sea as Madonna did in Guy Ritchie’s Swept Away.

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With its fortified walls, Unesco World Heritage Sites and resplendent golden-stone architecture, Malta’s capital city of Valletta easily doubles as ancient civilizations in Europe and the Middle East. Stroll through the area’s cobblestone streets and walk in the footsteps of movie stars like Brad Pitt and Matthew Fox and legendary directors like Oliver Stone. Two must-stops on your cinematic walking tour: The Upper Barrakka Gardens, the colonnaded gardens that appeared in Midnight Express, and Fort Saint Elmo, the 16th century fortress that stood in for a Beirut street market in the 1960s espionage drama, A Different Loyalty.

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Popeye Village

Built as a set for Robert Altman’s music film adaption of the comic strip Popeye, this colorful waterfront village is one of the island’s most popular family attractions. Fans of the 1980 musical, whose cast included Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, can tour “Sweethaven’s” breakwater and ramshackle houses, and take part in family-friendly movie screenings. During the warmer months, the set functions as an amusement park, offering boat rides, open-air BBQs, and water sports.

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Fort Ricasoli

Julius Caesar, Gladiator and Troy are among the big-budget Hollywood films to shoot at this massive fortress, which was built by the Order of Saint John during the 17th century. Covering a sprawling 753,473 square feet, the fort has enough space to house all the different departments of a film, making it a desirable shoot location for projects with big crews.

RELATED: 12 Places Where You'll Feel Like a Movie Star

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This medieval city is the oldest of the settlements on the shore of the Grand Harbour. It was here that the Knights of St John first settled, which explains why it’s some to some of the most architecturally significant structures in Malta, and also why it was chosen as a set for period films like Cutthroat Island, The Count of Monte Cristo and the BBC TV drama Daniel Deronda. To get a feel for what brought the film crews here, clear the better part of an afternoon to explore the area’s fortified waterfront and honey-colored stone buildings. The Malta Maritime Museums and the Fort St Angelo are two of the spot’s top attractions.

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Mdina Gates

No cars are allowed in Malta’s old capital Mdina, which lends a distinctively Old World feel to the hilltop city. In the main square, find dazzling examples of baroque and medieval architecture, plus labyrinth-like stone streets that were pictured in the 1934 film The Count of Monte Cristo and in Roman Polanski’s Pirates. Recently, the area has also seen a massive influx of TV-fans, what with Game of Thrones having filmed most of its first season here.

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