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Da Vinci Code Locations Guide

Many people new to this subject area seem to be using 'The Da Vinci Code Trail' as a starting point to explore its associated mysteries while travelling around Britain and Continental Europe. Would-be 'set-jetters' should be aware that, often in films, what you see onscreen is not what you get in terms of story settings, even when film-makers claim to have shot on the “actual locations.” Below are a set of photos, some from the film and some my own, showing the main locations, together with an outline indicating what's what.

The Da Vinci Code Tour map [left] shows a set of four "x"'s running northwest from Paris to London to Lincolnshire to Scotland. These are the four main filming location areas. The novel's settings do not include Lincolnshire. In the story, the protagonists progress on their quest from Paris to a nearby chateau, then via a Kent airfield to central London, and finally to a country chapel near Edinburgh.


Lincolnshire Tourism site

 

 

 

The novel's settings do not include Lincolnshire, but it was a key location for the film version, 'doubling' for several story locales.

A Movie Locations Map
For information on the whereabouts of the various locations on the map, the new British-tourism marketing agency VisitBritain have a set of pages on their site here, but the location and other info there is rather sparse, except for their Press Release page, which mentions a Movie Map available from this site, which offers a flash-movie ‘Da Vinci Code Tour’ Location Map. After the usual pointless Flash animation display (a book opens and closes and images slide around), it shows you a parchment map with clickable ‘X’s [see screenshot, left] linking to popup windows with basic information and some small photos. For locations info, you’re better off going to the regional tourism sites, especially Lincolnshire Tourism's 'Da Vinci Code' site [see screenshot left] (covering Lincoln Cathedral and Burghley House).
There is also a printable “Da Vinci Code Movie Map” viewable online or downloadable as a printable PDF Acrobat file (right-click here to download PDF). Of most interest here about this Movie Map is that it also covers historic Celtic-British church sites which did not appear in the novel or film but which offer a similar appeal, such as Glastonbury.
No doubt due to the novel's theme, the filmmakers avoided Rome and the Vatican, where a meeting takes place between Opus Dei members, and instead used Winchester Cathedral [right] to represent a corner of it. Apart from a few Biblical flashbacks that used Malta to play Palestine, the crew ventured no farther south into Catholic Europe than the Paris area, opting instead for locations in Protestant Britain.

Onscreen, The Louvre exterior is obviously the real thing. Left, author Dan brown poses with director Ron Howard in front of the Louvre's glass pyramid, where the novel begins and ends.

 

Right: Langdon and Sophie, on the run, wait next to the glass pyramid which will turn out in the end to hold vital evidence. The novel's epilogue is also set here.

 

Depending on what level of property damage the scene requires, The Louvre's interior galleries were shot as a mix of the genuine and a studio mockup done at Shepperton Studios outside London. It obviously had to be a replica Mona Lisa that was defaced, and the scene at left is probably thus be the real Louvre gallery with a fake painting thrown in. But the scene with the painting being pulled off the wall to trigger the security gate had to be shot at Shepperton.

 

Sir Leigh Teabing's manor, Chateau de Villette, is a real chateau NW of Paris, known as "Le Petit Versailles." For this sequence a combination of the genuine house and parts of two English stately homes were used. Again, anything that had to be damaged could not be real, so the chateau gates which the police team break through were replicas, but set up on the real location. And although the actual chateau was rented by the film-makers and given a make-over inside to look more as if an eccentric antiquarian-minded English millionaire lived there, some of the sequence was shot elsewhere, at Burghley House (a house seen in the 2005 Pride And Prejudice), near Stamford in Lincolnshire. Burghley, which is considered to be England's finest Elizabethan manor, and its surrounding parkland were also used for a scene at Sophie's grandfather's country house, and scenes set at Castel Gandolfo (the Pope's summer residence near Rome). Some other scenes also set at Castel Gandolfo were filmed at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, the 19th C. home of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland.
As they make their way across central London, Langdon and Sophie Neveu pass familiar London icons, such as red phone kiosks and double-decker buses.Some of the DVC-themed tourism web-pages are capitalising on this, including the big wheel of the Millennium Eye [left, in the background] in their list of locations.

Left: Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou on location in London, with the Metropolitan Police on traffic control. Several London locations were used, with the protagonists travelling by bus or on foot through Central London.
Right: St James Park (off Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall), scene of a murder in the novel. (The park is often seen in British spy films, usually where Whitehall spymasters go to discuss some underhanded business while watching the ducks.)

Westminster Abbey, left and right, was the setting for a scene where another clue is interpreted at Isaac Newton's tomb, and there is a confrontation in its Chapter House. The Dean of Westminster Abbey agreed to let the film crew shoot inside, then changed his mind at the last minute for reasons that have remained unclear. Lincoln Cathedral doubled instead, its interior set-dressed to cover over some distinctive Victorian stonework not found in Westminster, and a replica of Newton's tomb added.

London's Temple Church, one of the few round churches in England, with its effigies of Knights Templar set in its stone 'rotunda' floor, is one of the most distinctive settings in the novel which appears as itself in the film.
Right and below are shots of the interior with more natural lighting than in the film, showing the church's most famous feature, the circular nave with its famous Knights Templar effigies on the floor. It is a rare English example of a ‘round’ church, modelled on the holy church of Jerusalem, and once the headquarters of the Knights Templar in England. The statue atop the pillar shows two knights riding a horse - a Templar emblem symbolising their vow of personal poverty.

Temple Church is hidden away in in the Temple legal district (off Fleet Street), but since the novel used it as a setting, it has been getting thousands of visitors. The church rector (alias the Master of the Temple), the Reverend Robin Griffith-Jones, now does hour-long talks on Fridays, basically debunking the novel. He says at first they were puzzled by the surge in visitors, who usually asked, “Have you read The Book?” - to which the church verger always replied yes, on the basis ‘The Book’ meant the Bible. The Reverend suspects he must have been rather short with a then-unknown Dan Brown when he came by several years before, asking questions on an early research trip, for the novel depicts the Temple Church rector as notoriously bad-tempered.

 

 

Right: Tom Hanks holds the cryptex cylinder while the sun's rays stream down into the nave onto the templar effigies behind him (pictured left).

Though this is not clear in the film version, the protagonists finally head north to the Edinburgh area, to the village of Roslin.
Left: Rosslyn Chapel south of Edinburgh is where the novel's denouément takes place, and the film-makers were able to shoot the scene in the actual setting, an ornate Templar chapel where some argue the Grail remains hidden. It has seen an overwhelming upsurge in visitors since the novel appeared, and is now Scotland's most popular esoteric site. Courtesy of The Scotsman newspaper, you can access a video tour here.

For Further Information:
The best source is the Da Vinci Code Movie Map [below], downloadable as a PDF file from here (right-click, and select 'Save Target As' or 'Save Link As').Da Vinci Code Movie Map

Email me if you have any corrections, suggestions, or even your own photos, though there is already a DaVinci-settings photo-gallery page (unfortunately not annotated or ordered in any sequence) where you can post photos, on the ‘Webshots’ site. See also “Da Vinci Code hot spots” on CNET.

   

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