How do you build a "Star Wars" universe? The answer lies close to home. Lucas' galaxy far, far away might appear fantastical, but its carefully designed planets are home to myriad architectural styles sourced from here on Earth. Scroll through to discover the inspiration behind planets unknown, and how "Star Wars," in some cases, has gone on to inspire architecture in the real world.
Theed palace, Naboo – The royal palace of Theed, the capital of Naboo, utilizes a combination of Byzantine exteriors and Baroque/Rococo interiors, informed by the naturalistic style of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Marin County Civic Center – Marin County Civic Center, in California, with its blue domed roofs, partly inspired Naboo. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright's brief for the site, his final commission, was that it should complement its parkland environment.
Fallingwater – Fallingwater, another Frank Lloyd Wright project in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, took this aesthetic even further.
The Hagia Sophia – David Reat described Theed Palace as a "fusion between Marin, the Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul." The Hagia Sophia (pictured) was the Roman Empire's first Christian Cathedral and is among the best known Byzantine structures in the world.
Otoh Gunga – The Gungans living on Naboo were pilloried by fans, but their underwater home city of Otoh Gunga was one of the most sophisticated in the galaxy. The intricate metalwork echoes Art Nouveau, a school of architecture emphasizing natural forms.
Hotel Van Eetvelde – The Art Nouveau entrance to the Hotel Van Eetvelde, in Brussels, circa 1900, designed by Victor Horta.
Pasteur metro station – Hector Guimard's entrance to the Pasteur metro station in Paris, built in the early 20th century.
The Palace of Fine Arts – The Palace of Fine Arts, a stone's throw from Lucasfilm's San Francisco HQ, is built in the neoclassic style with Corinthian columns, domes and water -- not unlike parts of Theed.
Naboo seen during the funeral of Padme. The neoclassic pavilion on the left has shades of those nearby in San Francisco.
Reat says the city planet Coruscant (Pictured in "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith") was inspired by Trantor, a planet from the "Foundation" series of sci-fi novels by Isaac Asimov, written in the 1940s.
Had Abbadon – One of Ralph McQuarrie's original paintings of what would become Coruscant. Called Had Abbadon, in the background is the Imperial Palace, home to the Emperor. This vision of Coruscant would never come to pass by the time of the prequels. "Star Wars" lore says the Emperor re-purposed the Jedi Temple when he assumed power at the end of "Revenge of the Sith."
The Empire State and The Chrysler Building – When it came to conceptualizing Coruscant for the special edition version of "Return of the Jedi" in 1997 and later the prequels, George Lucas used the Empire State and the Chrysler Building in New York as two reference points. The metallic finish and curved appendages of the latter would give the capital planet its Art Deco feel.
The Republic Executive Building – Much of the action on Coruscant -- if we can call it that -- takes place in the Senate. The Republic Executive Building building, a beehive of spacecraft coming and going, is topped with a dome that harks back to Oscar Niemeyer's domed senate chamber in Brasilia.
The Brazilian National Congress – Niemeyer's Brazilian National Congress, inaugurated in 1960, is one of many modern structures defining the capital Brasilia. The senate dome (left) may be an inspiration behind the senate in "Star Wars," but the link remains unconfirmed.
Presidio Modelo – Cuba's now abandoned Presidio Modelo was a real-life example of a functioning panopticon prison, with a central, supposedly omniscient tower.
The Jedi Temple – The Jedi Temple, seen in "The Phantom Menace." There's cross-pollination of religious architecture throughout: what Reat describes as a "Brutal interpretation of Aztec architecture," and minaret-like towers which "have an entasis, or a bulging," he says, "which reminds you of Southeast Asian towers."
The Jedi Temple archives from "Attack of the Clones." Parts of the internal spaces of the temple were supposedly modeled on the Vatican, but the archives have one clear inspiration: The Long Room at Trinity College Dublin.
The Death Star – The Death Star in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." Not originally conceived as spherical, it took its shape after production designer John Barry added a curve to the lengthy corridors requested by Lucas.
The Death Star II – The second Death Star in "Return of the Jedi" was conspicuously incomplete, but its weapon was fully operational. The Imperial aesthetic, down to officer's uniforms, was heavily-indebted to Nazi Germany, all part of Lucas and McQuarrie's choice to easily signpost the galaxy's baddies.
Zaha Hadid's painting of the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hadid was inspired by the Russian avant-garde and Suprematism, creating abstract works that, like the second Death Star, broke down at their extremities.
Starkiller Base – A still from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" depicts a show of force from First Order troops on Starkiller Base. The visual language echoes the Nuremberg Rallies of the 1930s, when Nazi party members gathered annually in northern Bavaria. In the background, the base's weapon is fired, perhaps an allusion to the "Cathedral of Light."
Star Destroyers – Two Star Destroyers and the "Executor," Darth Vader's Super Star Destroyer, seen in "The Empire Strikes Back." The Imperial spaceships are, like the Death Star, Brutalist on close inspection, a mass of hard lines and boxy shapes. Originally conceived as a 36-inch model, the Star Destroyer silhouette would eventually show up in the real world.
Troodos Observatory, Cyprus – A number of outlets noticed a distinctly Star Destroyer-esque shape to Kyriakos Tsolakis Architects' concept for a new astronomical center at the Troodos Observatory, in Cyprus. The company isn't shy about its inspiration: architect Nicodemos K. Tsolakis said in September: "I was a 'Star Wars' fan growing up. Of course, the client didn't know this when they hired us. They were pretty surprised with where we took it but they love the ideas."
Cloud City – Ralph McQuarrie's concept art of Cloud City, as seen in "The Empire Strikes Back." The floating metropolis was inspired by "Flash Gordon" and 1930s sci-fi/western serial "The Phantom Empire," says Reat.
Cloud City – When Cloud City received a revamp in 1997 with the release of the special editions, the architecture drew close resemblance to McQuarrie's early Alderaan concepts.
HAVOC – Similar to Cloud City, in 2014 NASA proposed that "HAVOC" (High Altitude Venus Operational Concept), a floating settlement above the toxic, highly pressurized surface of Venus, might be one way to successfully explore our nearest solar neighbor.
Ahch-To – Stone clochans, as seen in "The Force Awakens." The 6th century structures on Skellig Michael, an outcrop off southwest Ireland, were once a Christian monastery, but in the "Star Wars" universe double as the site of the first Jedi temple.
One of Ralph McQuarrie's early paintings of Mos Eisley, Tatooine. The city, "a hive of scum and villainy," was imagined to be constructed of mud, rammed earth and plaster in the North African vernacular.
The sandcrawler, a tracked vehicle from Tatooine, featured in the first "Star Wars" film. Not a building per se, it has an unlikely architectural legacy ...
Jabba's Palace – Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine, as painted by Ralph McQuarrie. A combination of Byzantine shapes and clean Brutalist surfaces, it's an example of the "Star Wars" universe's magpie approach to architecture.