Given all the obsessive love of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, we’re a little surprised that Batman tours haven’t become a huge part of the tourist industry. In the absence of any huge tour buses cashing in on the films, we’re here to help! Here’s a handy guide to the principal locations of the three films so that you can recreate the Dark Knight’s adventures on your next break. Warning: don’t try to recreate his stunts or you’ll get arrested / killed.
Where is it? 6 miles north of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK.
What is it? A stately home built between 1852 and 1854 by architect Joseph Paxton and George Henry Stokes, in the Jacobethan style. It was originally a home for the Baron Mayer de Rothschild, who wanted a pile near London for his art collection – you know how it is. Since then it’s been the headquarters of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, his Transcendental Meditation movement and Natural Law Party. None of these things are very Batman. It was also a shooting location for Eyes Wide Shut, Brazil and, er, Ali G Indahouse.
What did it play onscreen? Welcome to Wayne Manor in the first film, home to the young Bruce, his theatre-loving parents, butler Alfred and future lawyer Rachel Dawes. Sadly, things didn’t go so well for the Manor at the end of Batman Begins, so it sat out the follow-up after Bruce vowed to rebuild it “brick by brick”. Wollaton Hall has replaced Mentmore as Wayne Manor for the third instalment.
Can I visit? Sadly, no: the building is scheduled for refurbishment as a hotel but hasn’t been converted yet. In the meantime, you can go to the grounds and play golf, which might give you some idea of the Wayne lifestyle, if you can imagine Batman in an Argyle.
Where is it? South-east Iceland. Look around for the big cold thing.
What is it? Well, it’s a glacier; do pay attention. It is, in fact, the biggest ice cap in Europe, covering 8% of Iceland to an average depth of 400m and covering a number of active volcanos. Perfect super-villain country then.
What did it play onscreen? Part of the Himalayas that Bruce Wayne trekked through in search of a mysterious temple where he could learn to be an even tougher nutter, and of course bits were used for the surroundings of that temple where Ra’s Al Ghul trained his super-ninjas. It had previously appeared onscreen in A View To A Kill, and later appeared in Game Of Thrones, so this location is an all-rounder.
Can I visit? Absolutely – in fact, Iceland’s tourist board practically insists on it.
Where is it? Mill Hill, in north west London.
What is it? Well, the answer’s kind of in the name. It’s the UK’s centre for research of a medical nature, and has been since the Medical Research Council was moved there in 1950. This is where they discovered the interferon, so that’s probably exciting if you’re a medical student.
What did it play onscreen? Several locations in the building played bits of Arkham Asylum in Batman Begins. Sure, a few parts were filmed in St Pancras and the Abbey Mills Pumping Station as well, but this is probably the most familiar bit of the Asylum.
Can I visit? Well, there’s a Schools Day every year where pupils can visit to learn more about a career in science, so if you can disguise yourself as a spoddy teenager, you could be in luck! While you’re there, apparently there’s a staff canteen and social club with bar, so wahey!
Where is it? 141 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois.
What is it? An Art Deco masterpiece and US national historic landmark, this was the tallest building in Chicago for a good 30 years and houses Chicago’s derivatives exchange (the trading floor appeared in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). You may also have spotted this granite structure with its sculpture in The Untouchables and Road To Perdition.
What did it play onscreen? In Batman Begins, this building took the role of Wayne Enterprises headquarters, the one at the heart of that network of elevated monorail lines and the city's water and power supplies. It must have blown its lines or something, however, because the Richard J. Daley Center took over as Wayne headquarters in The Dark Knight.
Can I visit it? Sure – there are restaurants and so on inside, and even a yoga centre. Most of the building is given over to offices, however, so you can’t visit that so easily.
Where is it? 433 W. Van Buren, Chicago, Illinois
What is it? Well, it was Chicago’s main post office, hence the name, between its construction in 1921 and 1997, when activities were moved to a new building because this one managed to create huge backlogs in the postal service – at one point in 1966, ten million pieces of mail got jammed up there for a week. Now the building is retired and facing redevelopment as a shopping mall, but in the meantime appeared briefly in Batman Begins, and more extensively in, er, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.
What did it play onscreen? This building is best known as the branch of the Gotham National Bank targeted by the Joker at the beginning of The Dark Knight, which was filmed on the building’s north side, but its east side rather cleverly doubled as Gotham Police Department. So this one’s a two-fer!
Can I visit it? Not the inside, but you only want to poke around the outside anyway, right? You can recognisably make out the spot where the school bus exited the bank and drove away.
Where is it? On the waterfront of Hong Kong’s Central District. But not in a Marlon Brando way.
What is it? It’s a huge complex of corporation and bank headquarters, a shopping mall and the Hong Kong Four Seasons. Tower 2, commonly known as IFC 2, was the tallest building in Hong Kong at the time of filming (the International Commerce Centre surpassed it in 2010) and is handy for the airport express, so that’s nice.
What did it play onscreen? In the film, Batman posed atop the IFC 2 before leaping from it to get to IFC 1, wherein he fought a whole heap of bad guys to get to his target and retrieve him for return to Gotham.
Can I visit it? Well, you can certainly visit the mall, or the Four Seasons, and on the 55th floor of IFC 2 there’s currently an exhibit of Hong Kong's monetary history, open to the public during office hours. But they won’t let you jump off the top unless you’re either Batman or Lara Croft.
Where is it? Between Cicero Avenue and Lake Street, west Chicago, Illinois.
What is it? Well, it was a huge sweet factory between 1923 and 2003, when operations were moved to Mexico. In its day, it made 4 million pounds of 250 different kinds of sweets every week. Nowadays it’s due for redevelopment as a warehousing and distribution facility.
What did it play onscreen? This was Gotham Hospital in the pivotal scene where the Joker dressed as a strangely attractive red-headed lady nurse, had a chat with the injured Harvey Dent and then blew up the building. The bit exploded was the factory’s old administration building; much of the vast complex survived the blast.
Can I visit it? For now, much of the factory is still there but is not open to the public. By all means rock up and see what you can spot from the road, however.
Where is it? Downtown Chicago, Illinois.
What is it? A major north-south city street in the heart of Chicago’s banking district, LaSalle Street terminates at one end at the aforementioned Chicago Board Of Trade building, which stands at one end of its canyon-like section. But a section a little further along was used prominently in The Dark Knight.
What did it play onscreen? This basically hosted the iconic truck flip, at least once the production team had done six weeks of calculations, several test runs and some structural analysis of LaSalle Street itself, just to make sure that they wouldn’t ruin any utilities running underneath the surface. Happily, it all worked out well, and that huge car chase through Lower Wacker Drive had an appropriately bombastic conclusion.
Can I visit it? Sure, as long as you keep all the wheels of your vehicle touching the ground at all times. The local police department require a lot of paperwork before you start flipping vehicles about the place.
Where is it? North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
What is it? A stadium built in 2001 that’s usually home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers (not to be confused with the Dillon Panthers), both American football teams. It seats 65,000 people, and has been sold out for every Steelers home game ever played there.
What did it play onscreen? In The Dark Knight Rises, it plays home to the Gotham Rogues (some of whom look awfully like some of the Steelers players), and about 15,000 unpaid extras turned up to see filming at the stadium on August 6, 2011. And then Bane turned up and spoiled everyone’s fun by being all evil and exploding the field.
Can I visit it? You can take a tour of the stadium between April and October most years (not during the winter) or try to bag yourself a ticket to one of those sold-out home games.
Where is it? Lower Manhattan, New York, NY.
What is it? A wretched hive of scum and villainy. We mean, the heart of New York’s financial district and the base of many banking houses and related businesses.
What did it play onscreen? As near as we can tell, it plays the heart of Gotham’s financial district and the base of many banking houses and related businesses. Which apparently becomes the site of a pitched battle between hundreds of escaped prison inmates and Gotham’s police department. Oh, and Batman and Bane.
Can I visit it? Sure. But do remember to dress appropriately. You’ll need a hoodie, a backpack and a sign that reads “I am the 99%”.
Where is it? Jersey Road, Isleworth, greater London
What is it? Originally an Elizabethan manor house, this was rebuilt in the 18th century by architect Robert Adam with neo-classical interiors "worthy of Eve before the fall", according to writer Horace Walpole. In other words, it's well nice and more than a bit posh.
What did it play onscreen? In The Dark Knight Rises, this plays the interior of Wayne Manor. Through the magic of movies, the exterior of Wollaton Hall will give way to these classical interiors, which you can see in quite a few of the stills and trailers released so far for the film.
Can I visit it? Why yes; it's owned and operated by the National Trust, so you can go along and pretend that you're Bruce Wayne and that that tourist in the anorak is your faithful butler Alfred.
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