Girona, Catalonia (Oldtown, Braavos)
The crew of Game of Thrones have filmed quite a bit in this medieval city, about an hour north of Barcelona. Scenes here have been filmed in the monumental Girona Cathedral, standing at the top of its sweep of steps, as well as the old Jewish Quarter and the Arab Baths. Girona is the setting for Oldtown in the free city of Braavos, home to the Citadel where all the maesters of the Seven Kingdoms receive their training.
Bardenas Reales, Navarre (Dothraki Sea)
A stunning desert-like landscape dotted with odd rock formations close to the town of Tudela in north-east Spain, the Bardenas Reales Natural Park has got to be one of the most hauntingly beautiful GoT filming locations ever. Appearing for the first time in the sixth season, this is where dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen met with an unfriendly khalassar, another Dothraki tribe.
Peñiscola, Valencia (Meereen)
Situated about 90 miles north of Valencia, this spectacular fortified town is another popular ‘Thrones location. Dubbed ‘the City in the Sea’ after its romantic peninsula location, Peñiscola is the dramatic backdrop to Meereen.
Alcazaba, Almeria (Dorne)
Lying on Spain’s southern coast, a world away from tourist resort Malaga, the golden colours of the Almeria province have been used extensively during GoT. The sturdy walls of Almeria City’s tenth century castle are home to the feisty kingdom of Dorne…
Pechina, Alhamila Mountains, Almería (Dothraki Sea)
HBO’s film crew headed into the Alhamila mountains for Game of Thrones in 2015, following in the footsteps of Ridley Scott for his film, Exodus. These jagged sierras and unspoiled scrubland are the location for Vaes Dothrak – the only city in the vast plains of the Dothraki Sea.
Santa Florentina Castle, Canet de Mar, Barcelona (Horn Hill)
Santa Florentina, an eleventh century fortress north of Barcelona, was transformed into the seat of House Tarly (Horn Hill) in season six. Surrounded by greenery and redesigned by Art Nouveau architect Lluis Domenech I Montaner, the castle’s many turrets and elegant courtyards have been ravaged by battle in the Game of Thrones universe.
Zafra Castle, Guadalajara (Tower of Joy)
Known popularly as “the fortress of Spain’s Siberia” (the area can be quite cold in the winter), Zafra Castle is Emmy-worthy in itself, with its commanding tower stood on the rocks above Campillo de Dueñas, in northeast Spain. This is where we discovered one of the most awaited moments of Game of Thrones season six – a flashback of Lyanna Stark’s death in the Tower of Joy…
Alcázar de Sevilla, Seville (Water Palaces of Dorne)
This is the perfect spot to represent the Water Gardens of Dorne. The Alcázar de Sevilla is transformed into the palatial private residence of Martell in the capital, Lanza del Sol, an appropriate place name considering the amount of heat this Andalusian city gets.
Read more about Spains’s most beautiful castles in our guide.
Plaza de toros de Osuna, Seville, Andalusia (Arena of Meereen)
Osuna’s bullring shines on the small screen during the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Seville stands in for the sands of Meereen for one of the show’s biggest scenes, and the most expensive in the history of television, when Tyrion and Daenerys met for the first time. If you visit Osuna then make sure you check out Casa Curro, the first restaurant in town to offer a GoT themed tapas menu for fans who want to feast like a Stark or Targaryen (for around three euros per plate!).
The Roman bridge in Cordoba, Andalusia (Long Bridge of Volantis)
The magnificent Roman bridge in Cordoba became, by the grace of Game of Thrones, the Long Bridge of Volantis in series five. Built by imperial troops in the first century BC to replace a wooden structure, it has 16 arches and is a whopping 247 metres long. Scenes were shot for the HBO show with several cameras and a drone, making it look even longer and while you can see it for yourself from either direction, approach from the south for the best view, entering the old city by the mosque.
Aït-Ben-Haddou (Yunkai and Pentos)
Follow Daenerys Targaryen’s tracks at Aït-Ben-Haddou, to a ksar (fortified city) around 100km southeast of Marrakech. Sitting majestically on a hill overlooking a desert, its ancient appearance attracts both tourists and filmmakers; since the 1960s, it has played a role in many Hollywood films and TV series, such as Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, The Mummy, Gladiator, Alexander, Babel and Prince of Persia to name just a few. In the fictional world of Essos, Aït-Ben-Haddou becomes Yunkai, the smallest of the three cities in Slaver’s Bay, and Pentos, the biggest of the Free Cities.
While the Game of Thrones city of Astapor lies south of Yunkai, Essaouira is to the west of Aït-Ben-Haddou, and around 100km west of Marrakech, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. One of the city’s landmarks is its red fortified wall which makes the fictional Astapor so memorable on screen. Unlike Astapor, real-life Essaouira is known for a more relaxed atmosphere. In the 1960s it was a hippie hangout graced by rock stars such as Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix and today it pulls in the surfing crowds, as well as being a great place to pick up some fresh seafood.
Atlas Corporation Studios, Ouarzazate
The Atlas Studios, located in the Moroccan desert just outside of the city of Ouarzazate, are the world’s largest film studios and a major tourist attraction, as many of the film sets are still intact. Apart from Game of Thrones, many films such as Babel, Gladiator and Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra were filmed here. If you want to see the studios, you can combine them with Aït-Ben-Haddou on a day trip from Marrakech.
Grjótagjá (Jon and Ygritte’s love nest or ‘Jon and Ygritte’s love nest’)
Though we won’t be seeing this lovely spring cave anymore in the realm of GoT, it’s definitely worth visiting in the real world. Grjótagjá is a small lava cave near Lake Mývatn in north-east Iceland and while outside is snow and ice, the water in the spring can get up to 50°C (which might explain why Jon and Ygritte were so hot…).
Dimmuborgir (Wildling Camp)
Close to Grjótagjá and south of the town of Húsavik is Dimmuborgir, a lava field with unusually-shaped rocks and serious significance in Icelandic folklore: it is said that Dimmuborgir is somehow connected to hell, and the home of murderous trolls, whose sons The Yule Lads have become entwined in the Christmas story in Iceland as a kind of frightening alternative Santa Claus. Meanwhile in Westeros: Dimmuborgir was the place where ‘King Beyond the Wall’ Mance Rayder set up his camp. Whatever story you’re following, don’t miss the chance to hike through this desolately beautiful landscape up to Hverfjall volcanic crater.
Vatnajökull (North of the Wall)
The vast mountainous area of south-east Iceland forms Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, located in the largest national park of Europe at 13.600km². In Westeros, Vatnajökull is the mysterious land Beyond the Wall, home to mythical creatures. Take to the road east of Reykjavik, past the bluish ice and distant mountaintops, and you may well start to believe in giants and White Walkers yourself…
Höfðabrekka (Frostfang Mountains)
Höfðabrekka is located near Vík, the southernmost city of Iceland. It lies at the foot of the glacier Mýrdalsjökull which sits on the volcano of Katla. In Game of Thrones, the area was used to film sweeping panoramas in season two, as Jon Snow ventures into the treacherous Frostfangs beyond the Wall.
Thingvellir National Park
A major filming location for season four, Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the Alþingi – the national parliament of Iceland – was established in 930. It continued to meet here until 1798, but was moved to Reykjavík later on. Back in the world of ‘Thrones, Thingvellir National Park was the first time Iceland was used for its summer beauty, as it showed Arya and Sandor Clegane’s journey from village to village in mid-Westeros. Keen fans can also find the rare ‘Dragonglass’ here – obsidian, a piece of cooled lava, is used in the series to mimic the precious resource.
Dubrovnik (King’s Landing)
Here it is, the (latest and official) seat of the kings of Westeros: King’s Landing, aka Dubrovnik. It’s no wonder that this monumental city was chosen to pose as one of Westeros’ main landmarks: Dubrovnik’s old town is surrounded by thick stone walls and is located on a peninsula surrounded by a dramatic stone cliff.
Minceta Tower, Dubrovnik (House of the Undying)
The mysterious House of the Undying is actually the Minceta Tower, located along the above mentioned walls of Dubrovnik. It was an important defence tower facing towards the land and a symbol of how ‘unconquerable’ the city is.
Lovrijenac Fortress (The Red Keep)
The Red Keep – the heart of King’s Landing – is, in the real world, Lovijenac Fortress, located outside Dubrovnik on a 37m high rock right on the shore. Fun fact: at the entrance is an ancient inscription which apparently translates as ‘Liberty is not sold for all the gold in the world’. Looks like the Lannister approach might not pay off after all. The scenes of the Red Keep in season one were actually shot in Malta, but from season two onward the film crew moved the set to Croatia to shoot more exterior shots of Dubrovnik and Lovrijenac Fortress. The bay right in front of the fortress was used for the climatic scenes during the Battle of Blackwater.
Only a few hundred metres off the coast of Dubrovnik lies the green and lush island Lokrum, 10 minutes by boat from the old port. The fortress is on the highest point of the island with an amazing view over the protected national park. In Game of Thrones, Lokrum is turned into Qarth, the ‘Queen of Cities’ on the continent of Essos, and the setting for much of Daenerys’ story in season two.
If you want to wander around the lush gardens of King’s Landing, visit Trsteno Arboretum located in Trsteno, a small village right next to the sea, around 10km north of Dubrovnik. Pretend you’re exchanging a secret with court whisperer Varys, as you weave your way between the fountains, vine-covered pergolas, belvedere, pavilions and rich flora in his footsteps.
The medieval town of Sibenik hit the small screen in the fifth season as Braavos, one of the Free Cities across the Narrow Sea. The Braavosi are a race of sailors and adventurers, and this city is home to the famous Iron Bank, as well as sheltering Arya Stark in her flight from Poniente. With its walls and its ancient architecture, Sibenik is protected by four fortresses and you may even come across the fabled ‘House of Black and White’, or the temple of the God of Many Faces.
Split (King’s Landing)
Scenes involving Cersei Lannister from the fifth season of Game of Thrones were filmed inside this UNESCO World Heritage site. The great palace complex of the Roman emperor Diocletian spread its architectural heritage across what’s now the city of Split so you can visit for free, as parts of the third century buildings were used to build the medieval cathedral, cafes and many more structures within the old walls.
The medieval Klis Fortress, overlooks Klis village near Spilt, and is one of the places where Daenerys plans her return to power. It’s not on screen for long, but this once royal castle on the hillside is definitely worth the climb to see Split from above.
Krka National Park (landscapes of the West)
Jump on the bus from Split to see this lush green nature reserve, which has provided some stunning backdrops for locations all over the Seven Kingdoms during the series so far. With bright sparkling waters and the constant sound of gurgling streams and gushing waterfalls, Krka National Park is a tranquil place, seemingly far removed from the violent on-screen world of GoT.
Ston (King’s Landing)
Located in southern Croatia, a bus ride from the other King’s Landing, Dubrovnik, the famous Walls of Ston have featured as the fortifications surrounding the western part of the city. You’ll see more clambering tourists than men of the royal guard here, as fans of the show flock here to traipse across Ston’s stones on ‘the Great Wall of Europe’.
Unassuming Corbet village, in Northern Ireland, was a brand new location in the Emerald Isle for Game of Thrones season 6. Sets created alongside the river and around the old Ballievey linen mill brough Riverrun, the seat of House Tully, back to life.
Tollymore Forest Park (Forests in the North)
Tollymore Forest Park, covering over 600 hectares at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, is a great area for outdoor activities such as hiking, not to mention a bit of a looker in terms of seaviews. Not surprisingly, it features several times in Game of Thrones. It is here that a member of the Night’s Watch sees a family of Wildlings dead on the snow and then encounters a White Walker. Early on in the story, Ned Stark and his sons find the direwolf pups here and, much later, Theon Greyjoy is chased on horseback by Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Bolton.
Castle Ward (Winterfell)
The sumptuous Castle Ward overlooks Strangford Lough and with its 820 acres of land, was used as the courtyard of the Stark’s home, Winterfell. The house features Gothic and Classical styles of architecture, with an exotic sunken garden, paths and peaceful woodlands that will definitely make you think you are in The North. The grounds featured heavily in season one and two and it was here in the courtyard that King Robert Baratheon and his court arrived at Winderfell.
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Beach (Dragonstone)
This beautiful 11km stretch of golden sand and turf is best known for being the location of Mussenden Temple, near the coastal town of Castlerock. This Classical round temple was built to be a summer library, while today it stands dramatically on top of a cliff, gazing down the Northern Irish coast. You might recognise the beach and the clifftops as the Dragonstone exterior – remember Melisandre burning the old gods by night? Or ‘one true King’ Stannis Baratheon drawing a flaming sword from the flames? That all happened right here.
The Dark Hedges (The Road from King’s Landing)
The Dark Hedges might possibly be the most beautiful avenue of beech trees in the world. Planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion (Gracehill House), they still do the job very well. Doubling up as the Kingsroad, north of King’s Landing, it was here that Arya escapes from the city disguised as a boy, with Yoren, Gendry, Hot Pie and others destined for the Night’s Watch. Head north on the Bregagh Road in Ballymoney to see them for yourself.
Ballintoy Harbour (Lordsport)
Ballintoy Bay is the real-world location of Lordsport (the port of Pyke in the Iron Islands). This tiny fishing village and its harbour are one of the most photogenic parts of the coast of Antrim. No wonder then, that the Game of Thrones production team also chose it as the setting for Theon Greyjoy’s unceremonious return to the Iron Islands, in season two. Unlike the harsh world of Pyke, you can sit down with a scone and a cup of tea in the harbour cafe to enjoy the views.
Cushendun Caves (The Stormlands)
The stunning Cushendun Caves were formed over a period of 400 million of years and nestle beneath rocky cliffs spilling down to the sea, just beyond Cushendun Village. This windswept location is where Davos Seaworth (under orders from Stannis Baratheon) lands the red priestess Melisandre ashore, later witnessing her giving birth to a sinister shadow creature.
Larrybane (The Stormlands)
The Larrybane area is also part of The Stormlands in Game of Thrones. The whole place is prime film shoot material, connected to Sheep Island by one of the most famous and dramatic rope bridges in the world: Carrick-a-Rede. Spy the place where King Renly sets camp and where Brienne of Tarth beats Ser Loras Tyrell in the tournament, before setting off on your own adventure along the old fishermen’s route across the bridge and over the crashing surf.
Murlough Bay (The Iron Islands)
Murlough Bay is a very remote and beautiful part of the Northern Irish coast, with views across the sea to Rathlin Island and the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. In season two, Murlough Bay was used as a setting for the Iron Islands and this is where Theon rides on a horse with his sister Yara. The fictional world muddled reality a little here, as this was also the site of Davos Seaworth’s shipwreck after the Battle of Blackwater Bay (across the other side of the kingdoms from the Iron Islands, according to the Westeros map!).
Magheramorne Quarry (Castle Black and HardHome)
You get two for the price of one with this quarry in Northern Ireland, which has hosted two different GoT sets. First, it was used to recreate Castle Black, where Jon Snow lives as the Lord Commander’s Steward in the Night’s Watch. But another location, near the lake, has served as the set for HardHome, where one of the highlights of the fifth season occurs. But for all you that have yet to catch up on the last series, we wouldn’t like to give anything away!
Mdina Gate (King’s Landing Gate)
The 4000 year-old capital of Malta, Mdina is a walled hill town in the centre of the island, commonly called the Silent City. In Game of Thrones season one, Catelyn and Ser Rodrik Cassel ride into King’s Landing through the gorgeous Mdina Gate to investigate the attack on Bran.
Image: Mario Galea / Viewingmalta.com
Fort Ricasoli (Red Keep Gate in King’s Landing)
Fort Ricasoli is a large seventeenth century fortification built by the Knights of Malta on the promontory known as Gallows Point. It is one of the first things you see if you visit the picturesque village of Kalkara, since it dominates the Grand Harbour. It was a military installation for centuries and played an active part in the defence of Malta during World War Two, when it was badly damaged. Due to its state it can’t be visited up close, but take some snaps and you’ll be in possession of a good few claims to fame – it’s been used as a location for films and TV series like Agora, Troy, Gladiator, Helen of Troy and Julius Caesar. Back in Westeros, Fort Ricasoli has been used to represent the Red Keep in King’s Landing.
Azure Window (Daenerys and Drogo’s Wedding)
This incredible 50-metre high limestone rock arch known as the Azure Window formed the backdrop for Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo’s Wedding. Located on the Maltese island of Gozo, it’s very popular with scuba divers and anyone waiting to explore the dazzling blue waters around this natural attraction. Apart from Game of Thrones, it has also found fame in films such as Clash of the Titans and The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as the television mini-series The Odyssey.
Verdala Palace Grounds (Illyrio Mopatis’s House)
Since 1987 Verdala Palace has been the official summer residence of the president of Malta but its origins date back to the sixteenth century, when it was built on the site of a hunting lodge. The elegant palace is surrounded by Buskett Gardens, which were used by the Knights of Malta to hunt game, while in the eighteenth century it was used as a military prison by Napoleon. It is closed to the public, but you can walk through the nearby gardens and imagine you’re spying on the house of Illyrio Mopatis – the place where Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen meet Khal Drogo and his khalassar before the wedding.
San Anton Palace (The Red Keep)
This sixteenth century palace located in Attard is the official residence of the President of Malta and is surrounded by private and public gardens. San Anton Palace stands in for parts of the Red Keep in Game of Thrones. In the first series the Starks arrive there and use their stables, and later on a number of their attendants are murdered by Lannister soldiers while unloading some cargo. It is also the Red Keep’s Hallway, where Varys and Littlefinger inform Ned Stark that the Goldcloaks are under his control.
Fort St Angelo (The Red Keep Dungeon)
Fort St Angelo is a large fortification in the walled town of Birgu, right at the centre of the Grand Harbour. Thought to be on the site of a Roman settlement, it’s been controlled by the Knights of Malta and the British over the years. There are some evocative underground tunnels here that were put to good use as Arya’s Stark’s playground in GoT and also the place where she eavesdrops on a key conversation.
Fort Manoel (Great Sept of Baelor)
This is another of the great fortifications of Malta, once a hugely important military stronghold. Fort Manoel stands on Manoel Island in Marsamxett Harbour, north-west of Valletta and will now be remembered forever as the Great Sept of Baelor, the infamous place where King Joffrey executes Ned Stark after his confession, at the end of season one.
Doune Castle (Winterfell)
This medieval stronghold in Doune near Stirling was originally built in the thirteenth century and has survived quite unchanged since the fourteenth century, an impressive strategic site at the crossroads of Scotland. Doune Castle can be seen in several films and series such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the classic adaptation of Ivanhoe with Elizabeth Taylor, as well as the very first appearance of Winterfell in the pilot episode for Game of Thrones.
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