The Skyfall Tour is a tour of the filming locations used in the 2012 "James Bond film" Skyfall directed by Sam Mendes. As so many of the locations depicted in the film were not actually filmed there we have used the implied location and not the actual set. With locations in London, Scotland, Surrey, Berkshire, China, Turkey and Japan, if you are bent on following the tour, please be sure to have your passport ready.
The opening teaser finds Bond (Daniel Craig) in Turkey, on the trail of a stolen hard drive in Istanbul.
With one agent already dying, Bond chases the assailant, Patrice (Ola Rapace), through the crowded Eminonu Square, one of Istanbul’s oldest squares, overlooked by the minarets of the fabulous Yeni Mosque, and filled with over two hundred and fifty market stalls for the production.
The high-speed pursuit continues across the rooftops and then inside Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. If you cringed as Bond’s motorbike roared over the historic structures, don’t worry. The existing roof tiles were carefully protected by reinforced steel roof panels.
The chase continues through the city of Adana, almost 500 miles to the southeast, towards the border with Syria, with a series of spectacular stunts climaxing in that perennial favorite – the fistfight on top of a speeding train. Under orders from M (Judi Dench), Eve (Naomie Harris) reluctantly takes a difficult shot which unfortunately sends Bond plummeting from a 300-feet-high railway arch.
Meanwhile, in London, M is driven through Parliament Square and along Whitehall in Westminster, the centre of UK government, for a meeting with Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). The building at which M arrives was the vast and elaborate office of insurance company Willis Faber,10 Trinity Square (formerly the Port of London Authority building), looming over Trinity Square Gardens, EC3.
After being informed that she will be ‘retiring’, M returns to the real MI6 HQ, the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) Building, 85 Albert Embankment, just in time to see her office blown to smithereens as she crosses Vauxhall Bridge. The up-front HQ doesn’t fare too well in Bond movies – The World Is Not Enough saw it struck by a missile.
M attends the funeral of the victims of the attack at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10. Most of the sequence was cut from the final release, leaving little more than the shot of M paying her respects to the flag-draped coffins in the austere King William Undercroft, beneath the famous Painted Hall.
With the Vauxhall HQ out of action, Bond is taken to the standby underground facility, apparently entered by the underground Smithfield Car Park in West Smithfield, EC1, alongside the famous Smithfield Meat Market.
After much physical and psychological assessments, Bond is informed by M that he’s been deemed fit enough to return to the field. In these austere times, his armoury of gadgets, though, is reduced to a gun and a tracking device.
He’s approached by the new Q (Ben Whishaw), in front of JMW Turner’s masterpiece, The Fighting Temeraire, in Room 34 of the National Gallery, on the north side of Trafalgar Square (though the film’s production notes mysteriously refer to the location as the National Portrait Gallery, which is around the corner on Charing Cross Road).
The bullet fragments retrieved from 007’s body point to a hitman operating in Shanghai and thus sends Bond scooting off to the Far East. There are striking aerial shots and driving sequences in the Chinese city, but most of the Shanghai scenes were filmed in London. As Bond tails Patrice from Shanghai’s ‘Pudong International Airport’, the setting is no more exotic than the new (2006) Grandstand at Royal Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire.
Bond follows his quarry from the airport to the high rise block where a hit has been organised. You can see the striking X-braced office block just to the north of London’s Liverpool Street Station. It’s the Primrose Street entrance to Broadgate Tower, 201 Bishopsgate, EC2, and currently the fourth tallest building in the capital.
The ‘Dead City’ island retreat of Silva (Javier Bardem) to which Bond is taken is actually the strange Hashima Island, a tiny deserted outcrop off the south west coast of Japan. Less than a square kilometre in area, Hashima was once part of Japan’s deep-sea coal mining activity, packed with several thousand workers. Owned and operated by Mitsubishi Motors since 1887, it fell victim to the global decline in mining and closed for good in 1974, when the inhabitants quickly left.
Silva is captured and brought back to the UK but, hacking into the security system, he soon escapes into the London Underground system. Bond pursues him from ‘Temple’ station, on the District and Circle Lines, to ‘Embankment’. While there are brief shots of the exteriors of both these stations, the stairways and platforms were filmed in a disused section of Charing Cross Underground Station, on the Strand. This locale is fast becoming a screen favourite, having previously been used as ‘Waterloo’ station in The Bourne Ultimatum.
Now on the lam, Bond and M travel to the Highlands via the A82 road. Travelling across Rannoch Moor, they arrive at the top of Glen Coe in front of the misty peaks of Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag. Bond’s childhood home, along with the chapel and entrance gate, was constructed on Hankley Common, a stretch of Ministry of Defence land just south of Elstead in Surrey – which had previously appeared in two Pierce Brosnan Bond movies: The World is Not Enough (where it stood in for the oilfields of ‘Azerbaijan’) and Die Another Day.
The coda, which finds Bond atop a ministry building offering fantastic views along Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, was filmed on the roof of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), 55 Whitehall. You won’t be able to repeat the experience – this location is not open to the public.