As you can see in the video above, the most eye-popping locale in Star Wars: The Force Awakens turns out to be a very real place—no special set-dressing or digital wizardry, just a gorgeous corner of planet Earth.
The remote island is a World Heritage site called Skellig Michael, and it’s off the coast of Ireland’s County Kerry. It contains the picturesque ruins of a sixth-century monastery.
Of course, Skelling Michael’s role in the film immediately boosts its appeal as a travel hotspot. Tourism Ireland is just fine this. In fact, it commissioned the video. Since the board wants to protect the beautiful site from damage—a concern local environmentalists raised when shooting began in August 2014—it caps visitors at about 15,000 people a year. The tiny island can only be reached by boat, and only between May and October, anyway. It’s also worth noting that the path up to the monastery ruins isn’t for the casual wanderer: It’s got 660 steps, and two U.S. tourists fell from it to their deaths in 2009.
When the secrecy-obsessed production crew first came to scout the location, they claimed they were making a documentary about Skellig Michael’s puffin population, not, you know, Star Wars. In fact, when the crew celebrated the conclusion of filming back on land at the Bridge Bar in Portmagee, the establishment’s owner didn’t even immediately realize he had one of the original trilogy's heroes sitting there knocking back pints.