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This Is Where The Handmaid's Tale Is Filmed

While beautifully shot, expertly acted, and stunningly directed, "The Handmaid's Tale" has never exactly been easy to watch. Based on Margaret Atwoods' bestselling book of the same name, the show depicts a dystopian future where a horrific oligarchy has established a society based on violence, the subjugation of women, and fanatical classism. Episodes, especially in the earlier seasons, often depicted situations where unspeakable crimes were simply a part of everyday life in a world driven mad by environmental destruction and chronic infertility.

Even though the subject matter of "The Handmaid's Tale" is challenging, the show is often quite a spectacle. Its dark tones contrast with vivid displays of color, both in costumes and on its set, to create an interesting color palette to frame a frightening future. These colors brighten the Republic of Gilead, which feels at times both modern and archaic, with familiar locations subtly altered by a religious organization that has become the dominant force over what used to be the United States.

So, where did the makers of the show find an environment that they could depict as America's dark future? The answer closer to home than you might expect, but up and a little to the left. Here is where "The Handmaid's Tale" is filmed.

A large portion of The Handmaid's Tale was filmed in Toronto

Much of "The Handmaid's Tale" is set in the New England region of the United States and in the areas of Canada that border it. The first season, in particular, takes place in the Boston area, and the makers used many different locations in and around Toronto to create a dark and dreary version of the city in a world ravaged by out-of-control pollution.

When "The Handmaid's Tale" first premiered on Hulu in 2017, Torontoist did a deep dive into some of the locations in the show, which are often obscured by tight framing. While many of the streets and shops where the show was filmed may only be familiar to true locals, some iconic locations in the city do stand out, even if they are digitally altered. The striking Toronto City Hall and its signature curved towers are featured in the show's first episode and return in Season 3 as the sight of a brutal execution.

Another critical location found in Toronto is St. Aidan's Anglican Church, which became the Red Center in "The Handmaid's Tale." This was the site where new Handmaids were tortured and trained to be obedient, although the makers swapped in the University of Toronto St George for the Red Center's exterior in Season 2. Likewise, the more modern University of Toronto Mississauga was used for Season 2 flashbacks when Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) worked as a professor via Conde Nast Traveller.

Torontoist notes that a separate flashback features June (Elisabeth Moss) visiting another city landmark, the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. While it's only shown for a brief moment, the beautiful and distinct environment is unmistakable.

The Handmaid's Tale was also shot in towns around the Toronto area

While the city proper of Toronto does a lot of the heavy lifting in "The Handmaid's Tale," the show has also filmed in the towns and countryside surrounding it. According to CBC, the nearby city of Cambridge has been the site of some key scenes in the show, with the Main Street Bridge and Central Presbyterian Church featured prominently. Other filming locations were the City of Cambridge Council Chambers, where a courtroom scene from Season 1 was filmed, as well as a coffee shop, Bonjour Brioche, and Mill Street Park.

Another Toronto area city, Hamilton, is where the showrunners found the Grand Durand mansion, which would become the home of the Waterford family, according to Narcity. Hamilton locations had also stood in for famous locations, such as when the Bernie Arbour Stadium built an elaborate set that was modified using CGI to recreate Boston's Fenway Park and during a terrifying scene early in Season 2, as noted by the Hamilton News.

While many of the locations in "The Handmaid's Tale" come from the Toronto area, the showrunners have been willing to film outside of the region to get the shots they need. The Welland Tribune reported that the Ceres Global Ag's Port Colborne rail terminal was used as the Illinois International Port in Season 4.

In addition, "The Handmaid's Tale" even filmed one striking scene on location at the National Mall of Washington D.C. The Washingtonian reported that the Season 3 events were filmed in front of the Lincoln Memorial and led to some incredible images on Twitter of 200 handmaids, in full red regalia, kneeling in the United States capitol.