Winter is coming……in the spring.
Has it really been more than half a year since we’ve seen Daenerys Targaryen and co on screen? We know it’s only two months till we can watch our favourite Game of Thrones characters back in action (April 24 is when season 6 of the Emmy-winning fantasy hit will return to captivate us with more tales of lust, scandal and political intrigue) but till then some of us die-hard fans are going to need a distraction or two! And what better way to placate our withdrawal systems than to visit the actual places where the show was shot? In this area, Europe and her breathtaking landscapes have lent themselves to some of the more memorable scenes of the movie. Let’s take a quick tour, country by country.
Ahhh…..the land beyond the wall. The producers sure knew what they were doing when they picked Iceland, to portray George R. R. Martin’s vision of ice, mammoths and monsters. Winter scenes like the Battle Fist of the First Men, Mance Rayder’s army camp, along with most scenes north of the Wall were shot in the land of fire and ice. The glaciers of Svínafellsjökull and Smyrlabjörg as well as the hills of Höfðabrekkuheiði, and Mývatn Lake, near the town of Akureyri all get more than their 15 minutes of fame on the show.
2. Northern Ireland
Considering that a vast chunk of GoT was shot in Northern Ireland, we’re not surprised that the country’s official tourist board decided to set up a website listing all the film locations that had appeared on the TV series. Belfast deserves special mention for being the home base where the indoor sets are located. A famous beginning scene, episode one, season one is at Cairncastle, a wide open space of hills and moors, where Eddard Stark killed a lowly Night’s Watch deserter–remember? This space was also used in seasons 4 and 5 for the outside of Moat Cailin. Another main filing location in Northern Ireland is called Castle Ward. Here is where most of the Winterfell exteriors are shot, as well as the grassy plains used for the “generic army camps.” Finally, do you love Robb Stark? Well, if you go to Inch Abbey, you can see the place where his bannerman declared him the King of the North, a great honor. Its also where, earlier in that scene, Catelyn and Robb hear of Eddard’s tragic death. Northern Ireland is the true hub of Game of Thrones sites, if you’re a mega-fan, we definitely suggest checking these out!!
As the show needed scenes in more temperate weather and ancient, historic looking settings, the filming moved towards Croatia. The walled medieval city of Dubrovnik is the location for outdoor King’s Landing scenes, it has the beautiful architecture and a glimmering Adriatic Sea that fits the narrative of the story written about in the books. Several other cities around have also been used for the filming of Quarth and Slaver’s Bay. In Split, scenes such as the Meereen exteriors at the Klis Fortress along with the underground passageways were shot at Diocletian’s Palace.
If you watched Game of Thrones right from the start, you’d know that most of season one was filmed in various parts of Malta. This tiny Mediterranean country is where you can visit the site of the Dothraki Wedding feast (the GORGEOUS Azure Window coastal cliff formation), the location of Drogo’s funeral pyre (Mtahleb Valley), the Gate of the Gods of King’s Landing (Fort Ricasoli), and the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor in the tense scene where Eddard Stark is publically executed (Fort Manoel). A trip to Malta will have you nostalgic for when it all began!
You might want to save Spain until after April, as this is where much of season 6 has been filmed. You’ll see the new city of Dorne, House Tarly’s home castle, the Tower of Joy, and a bullfighting ring used as a fighting pit in Meereen. The Alcazar, (featured on previous seasons) a royal palace in Seville with Moorish roots beat out hot contenders like the Alhambra of Granada and Cordoba respectively to become the setting for the Water Gardens of Dorne. In the gorgeously built cities of Seville, Barcelona, Andalusia, and several others, your favorite characters will continue on with their lives as the plot thickens from last season’s cliff hanger.