CULTURE, TRAVEL

The Castles of Game of Thrones (and how you can visit them!)

09/05/2019

 

As the internationally-acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones approaches its final episode, many are unwilling to say goodbye just quite yet. The show garnered over 17 million viewers for its season eight premiere, and will inevitably attract more for its finale.

Debuting in 2011, the fantasy-epic has managed to bring people together from all corners of the world every week to enjoy the murder, betrayal and lies signature to the series. However, Game of Thrones has somehow managed to grow bigger than the show, it has become a worldwide phenomenon, the like that is only seen once or twice in a generation.

So, it makes sense that fans are now looking elsewhere to fuel their obsession as the series draws to a close. Whether it’s finding the best Game of Thrones inspired cocktail, deciding to tackle the five-book (uncompleted) series the show is based on or venturing out to visit Kings Landing yourself.

The mass-scale series is filmed in several locations, spanning across Africa, Europe and America. While most of the show is filmed in a studio in Northern Ireland, there are still many iconic sets that welcome guests year-round.

Warning, spoilers ahead!

Alcázar Palace, Seville (Spain)

The Alcázar Palace is a UNESCO protected world heritage site located in Seville. It was built for the Christian king Peter of Castile and is the oldest royal palace in Europe. However, in Westeros, it is home to the Water Gardens of Dorne belonging to the ancestral home of House Martell. The Martells are culturally very different to the rest of the seven kingdoms and the location choice reflects this perfectly. Introducing the wider Martell family, the palace was introduced in the fifth season of the series following the death of Oberyn Martell.

You can visit the palace, but tour guides encourage those who are planning to visit to book in advance as there may be long queues.

Visit: https://www.alcazarsevilla.org/noticias/english-version/

 

Fort Lovrijenac, Dubrovnik (Croatia)

Croatia is one of the most filmed locations for Game of Thrones, so much so that tourism has grown exponentially since. Fort Lovrijenac is a fortress situated outside the western wall of Dubrovnik, Croatia’s capital. It also stands in as the Red Keep, the residence of the Kings and Queens of Westeros, and home to the Iron Throne. Many infamous scenes have been filmed here including the tournament held for previous King, Joffrey Baratheon, in season two.

Buying a ticket to see the Dubrovnik city walls will also enable you to visit the fortress – but beware, you’ll have to climb almost 200 steps to get to the top. Visit: https://www.inspirock.com/croatia/dubrovnik/fort-lovrijenac-a619892963

Castle Ward, Ireland

Castle Ward is an 18th century castle and property of National Trust, an independent charity for heritage conservation in the United Kingdom. Castle Ward was used to film Winterfell, the ancestral home of the Starks. Winterfell sits in the far North of Westeros, making up almost the same size as the rest of the six kingdoms. The location is used frequently throughout season one particularly the castle’s farmyard which served as a backdrop to most of the pilot episode. However, Winterfell isn’t solely filmed in Castle Ward but is also a composite of Castle Doune, built in the thirteenth century, in Scotland.

Book an experience with Winterfell Tours where you can visit a replica of the archery range seen in the pilot episode, dress up in character costumes and tour the area: http://www.gameofthrones-winterfelltours.com/

Aït Benhaddou, Morocco

Aït Benhaddou is a fortified village and one of three filming locations used in Morocco. The area has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987. The location is popular amongst tourist and filmmakers alike and has been used in a variety of movies including The Mummy, Gladiator and Prince of Persia. In Game of Thrones, it makes up one of the three city-states in Slavers Bay called Yunkai or ‘The Yellow City’. The city is ruled by slave masters who call themselves the ‘wise masters’ and becomes an important location for Daenerys Targaryen.

You can book a tour with any travel provider to visit the village, visit: https://www.viator.com/en-GB/Marrakech-attractions/Ait-Benhaddou/d5408-a11953

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland

This castle is actually a ruined medieval castle located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Dunluce Castle dates back to the late middle ages when it was built by the 2nd Earl of Ulster in the 13th century. With a little digital work, it now plays as the stronghold of House Greyjoy, the rulers of the Iron Islands set on the fictional island of Pyke. It can first be seen in season two when Theon Greyjoy, ward of House Stark, returns to his ancestral home to mend ties with his family. It doesn’t really go well for Theon after that.

Dunluce Castle is open anytime between 9am and 5:30pm, although check online before you venture out. There is a small fee to pay but there are a variety of facilities inside if needed included guided tours, toilets and a café. Visit: https://discovernorthernireland.com/Dunluce-Castle-Medieval-Irish-Castle-on-the-Antrim-Coast-Bushmills-P2819/

Santa Florentina, Catalonia (Spain)

This stunning 11th century castle may have only been used a few times, but it certainly has left an impression. The castle of Santa Florentina is listed as a cultural heritage monument, while it is private property there is a museum and yearly festival for classical music. Fans know the castle as Horn Hill, home to House Tarly. Series favourite, Samwell Tarly, travels to his family home planning to leave Gilly and her baby there when he learns that the citadel does not take women or children.

As mentioned, the castle is private but there are a few ways to get inside including booking a general tour, group tour or VIP tour. Visit: http://castelldesantaflorentina.com/visit/excursions/

Meteora, Greece

Another world heritage site, the Meteora in Greece is a fascinating rock formation that hosts one of the largest congregations of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Although incredibly protected and thus filming couldn’t take place on site, there are still captures of the formation as it serves as a backdrop for the Eyrie, the home of House Arryn. During season one, Catelyn captures Tyrion and takes him to her sister in the Vale. While Tyrion is captured, he is taken to a prison cell outside overlooking the Meteora.

Fortunately, you can visit Meteora but make sure to book everything ahead of time as the area is a popular destination amongst tourists. It is also recommended to read up on what construction may be happening in the area and whether that will affect your travel. Visit: https://www.visitmeteora.travel/