Ridley Scott’s sword-and-sandals epic Gladiator (2000) is a universally-loved film. It’s the kind of movie you can expect to see on the TV guide around Christmas. Maybe because it’s the only time of year the general public is able to sit and watch a film with the same run time as a train journey from Glasgow to Manchester. But they love it. And the Gladiator filming locations are pretty epic, too.
The year is 180 AD. The titular Gladiator is Russell Crowe’s Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Roman general named heir by the current Roman Emperor. The Emperor’s son (Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus) embarks on a murderous rampage at the notion that someone else would take his throne. Maximus doesn’t come out of the situation too well and is sold into slavery. But eventually, Maximus becomes adept in the ancient art of gladiating and plots to take down Commodus…
Ridley Scott shot many of the Best Picture winner’s scenes in Shepperton Studios. But there are five cracking Gladiator film locations in five separate countries: Morocco, Malta, Italy, the USA and England. And, it bears repeating, they’re all exceptionally epic! So, let’s check out these Gladiator filming locations around the globe.
Where Was Gladiator Filmed?
Gladiator Filming Location in England
1. Bourne Woods, Farnham, Surrey
The first Gladiator movie location is the setting for the opening fight between the Roman Empire and Germania. The battle takes place in a charred area of woodland surrounded by pin-thin trees. This is also where we are introduced to General Meridius and his Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris).
The location is Bourne Woods in Farnham, Surrey. These woods are a prolific filming location due to their proximity to London studios like Pinewood. The Harry Potter film series, Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Wonder Woman (2017) amongst others have all shot scenes here.
This opening sequence took Ridley Scott three weeks to film. Many thought he had destroyed a vast area of protected woodland during the shoot, but he was being canny. Scott heard the Forestry Commission were burning down a part of the forest anyway, so he asked pretty please could he set it on fire for his movie. Genius!
Gladiator Filming Location in the USA
2. Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California
Maximus tells Marcus that he longs to return home and see his family after almost three years away. You see, he’s a father to a soon-to-be-murdered son and a husband to a soon-to-be-murdered wife. Yes, that’s a huge spoiler. But the film is 20 years old and you should have watched it if you’re reading this post!
After Commodus kills his own father, he orders his men to kill Maximus. The savvy general escapes execution and begins the long, lonely journey back home. He grows weaker as he rides his tired horse through mountains and deserts.
The Gladiator shooting locations used for this journey montage are in the Alabama Hills region of Lone Pine, California. I suppose this area of the US offers desert as well as peaks which is what Scott was looking for. Looks breathtaking, too!
Gladiator Filming Location in Italy
3. Agriturismo A Terrapille, Val d’Orcia, Siena, Tuscany
Finally, after what we can assume to be several weeks or months, Maximus rocks up in his old neighbourhood. Of course, things are about to get a lot worse for our titular character.
The Gladiator locations used for Maximus’s homestead are in Val d’Orcia (Orcia Valley), an area famous for vineyards and impressibly neat Cyprus trees outside Siena, Tuscany. Specifically, his home is Agriturismo A Terrapille which is now a Bed and Breakfast.
Proximo calls him a Spaniard later in the film and Maximus tells Marcus he lives in “the hills above Trujillo” so we can assume this house is supposed to be in Spain. Except, the location screams Tuscany.
Gladiator Filming Location in Morocco
4. Aït Benhaddou
Not only is Maximus nearly killed, his farm burned down and his family murdered, but he is captured and sold to Proximo (Oliver Reed). His captors transport him in a cart to a place called Zucchabar, which is a former Roman Province in present-day Algeria, Northern Africa.
This is the most famous location in the movie by far, so where was Gladiator filmed in Morocco exactly? Well, the city built into the side of a hill is Aït Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a wonderful example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture along the old Sahara to Marrakech caravan route. Aït Benhaddou is where Maximus trains as a gladiator. Game of Thrones, The Mummy (1999) and several other films have shot scenes here.
Scott also used Ouarzazate for the Gladiator movie locations in the desert. It is an extremely popular filming location for desert scenes because the Moroccan film studio CLA Studios is based there.
Gladiator Filming Location in Malta
5. Fort Ricasoli, Kalkara
After convincing Proximo to send him to Rome to fight in a Roman Colosseum (not the colosseum, which the Romans didn’t build until 70AD), Maximus becomes a real-life gladiator.
The Colosseum is made up of two Gladiator filming locations in Malta and a heck of a lot of CGI. Scott built a replica about one-third of the size of Rome’s colosseum in Malta and he also used Fort Ricasoli on the edge of Malta’s capital city Valletta as a location.
Because of its history as a military base, Malta has forts to spare. Just so many forts! But Fort Ricasoli is the most cinematic and Game of Thrones also utilized this fort as a filming location. Scott shot the gladiator scenes over 19 weeks, and it is during this shoot where Oliver Reed tragically suffered a fatal heart attack.
Around half of the film comprises gladiator scenes shot in Malta, which makes sense considering the title.
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So, where was Gladiator filmed? Hopefully, this blog post has answered that question! Have you watched the movie or visited any of the Gladiator filming locations? Let me know in the comments below!
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