With season seven of Game of Thrones (GoT) fast approaching, it’s time to dust off last season’s box set for a recap. What better way to revisit the GoT territory than in the flesh?
George R. R. Martin’s fantasy tale may be set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, but it’s all filmed in very real locations around the world.
Relive the epic encounters of the series while visiting some of our favorite GoT backdrops, from the wilds of Iceland to the sun-drenched shores of Croatia.
The Walls of Dubrovni: Croatia Island Escape
Protecting the Croatian city since the 12th century, the soaring twin walls of Dubrovnik double up as those of King’s Landing at the Battle of Blackwater Bay in Game of Thrones. In the series, Stannis Baratheon’s amphibious assault is repulsed and Tyrion Lannister’s victory shares a fidelity with history, as the huge fortifications weren’t breached for centuries either. Don’t bring your cannon with you today, however.
The main entrance (Pile Gate) provides access to almost 2,000 meters of muscular stone and is open for a few Kuna. Leading to the mighty fortress of St John, which houses the maritime museum, if you walk a little further you’ll find Minceta Tower, also used in filming as the exterior of the eerie House of the Undying.
Know that throne room where Daenerys sits, and every time a guest arrives she has to say her whole damn name? That throne room sits in Split, where an ancient palace was built 1700 years ago by Roman emperor Diocletian. As you walk through the winding little laneways of old town you’ll notice the streets look familiar; this is where the slaves rose against their masters in Meereen, that sandy city with the big pyramid on Essos.
These streets were used for scenes including the attempted assassination of unsullied leader Grey Worm, and the dungeon where Daenerys chained her dragons under the great pyramid. The scene where a great master of Meereen was relentlessly stabbed by a hundred slaves was also filmed in the stone-laid lanes.
Skaftafell National Park, Iceland: Natural Wonders of Iceland
Barren, volcanic and wonderfully wild, Iceland constitutes a major part of the topography in Game of Thrones. A frozen wasteland in the winter, in the TV series it hosts a hyperborean crew of White Walkers, Wildlings from North of the Wall and Knights from the Night’s Watch – not to mention some of the best scrums between all three.
Most of these were filmed at Skaftafell National Park, Iceland’s second largest park. Established in 1967 and covering half of Europe’s largest icecap, Vatnajokull, no roads wend their way anywhere in the area, making it perfect for wildlife watching or hiking. Whichever it is, make sure you fit Svartifoss waterfall into your itinerary – it’s one of the country’s greatest natural landmarks.
Alcazar, Seville, Spain: Splendours of Andalucia and Morocco
Alcazar, the royal palace in Seville, is also Dorne Palace, home to the seat of House Martell in Game of Thrones. One of the most famous scenes in the show sees the golden-handed Jaime Lannister scuttling through its gardens, passages and chambers on a mission to rescue his daughter, Myrcella, while she waltzes around with her lover in the land of Prince Doran.
A 10th century creation, the palace has been tailored to the whims of every occupant since. But instead of a jumbled incoherent mess, the Alcazar blends Moorish design and Gothic flair with sublime taste. Quite incredibly, the palace is still used for royal functions. In 1995, for instance, it staged a wedding feast for the daughter of King Juan Carlos, offering a glimmer of a real fairytale in a Game of Thrones setting.
Northern Ireland: Amazing Ireland
No geographical guide to Game of Thrones would be complete without Northern Ireland. Its countryside (both lush and bare by turns) formed the default backdrop for almost every series. Whether it’s the Haunted Forest (Tollymore Forest Park), the Dothraki Grasslands (Shillanavogy Valley) or the entrance to Vaes Dothrak (Mourne Mountains), few locations have been left unused.
Indeed, it was on the misty, stark Antrim Plateau that Game of Thrones began, with Ned beheading the Night’s Watch deserter, witnessed by Jon Snow. One of the best places to visit, if time is of the essence, is undoubtedly Ballintoy Harbour – a picturesque seaside spot that was used to capture the grey, stone glory of The Iron Islands.
Arya Stark, all alone in the world, most of her family murdered, the girl with no name; such a sad story, right? Even sadder when she went blind failing the trials of the Many-Faced God and shunned by her mentor in Braavos across the Narrow Sea. Forced to the streets of Braavos she was tormented and beaten up by another trainee called the Waif, but eventually Arya traps her and cuts her face off. This crazy part of the series was filmed in Girona.
The northern Catalonian city is seen as the smaller brother of Barcelona but is a place of wonder for its colourful houses upon the river and its narrow medieval streets used as the streets of Braavos. It is a short train ride away from Barcelona.
HOW TO GET THERE? Girona can be easily accessed from Barcelona, one of the 46 stops on the Hop-on Hop-off network.
How many GoT sites have you visited?
Share this story