The eagerly awaited return of Game of Thrones is almost upon us which means it is high time to analyze some of the filming locations that fans of the show can actually visit. The following are the 6 countries where the bulk of the series has been filmed and where some of the fictional places that you saw on screen are located in reality.
1. Seville and other locations in Spain
The city of Seville in Andalusia has been used as set for most of the scenes in Dorne and some of the scenes in Mereen, notably the fighting pits which were filmed in the Plaza de Toros in Seville’s Osuna area. The city will moreover feature extensively in the upcoming seventh season.
Other Spanish locations include Almería used for Vaes Dothrak and some scenes in Dorne and the Sierra Nevada mountains which provided the background for numerous scenes playing outside the main city walls of Mereen.
2. Magheramorne Quarry and other locations in Northern Ireland, UK
Northern Ireland is the country with the most screen time in Game of Thrones. Magheramorne Quarry in the Northern Irish Antrim County contains the fully realized set of Castle Black which Game of Thrones fans can visit. The County has featured extensively in the first three seasons, its woods and countryside were in fact used for most of the scenes around Winterfell.
Castle Ward in County Down served as set for most of the exterior shots of Winterfell and the county was furthermore chosen for various army camp shots.
Downhill Strand in County Derry is another Northern Irish location used extensively by the producers of Game of Thrones, notably for the outside scenes of Dragonstone.
3. Split, Dubrovnik & other locations in Croatia
Croatia is the second most featured country, with Dubrovnik serving as filming locations for most of the action happening in Westeros’ capital, King’s Landing.
When visiting the affluent coastal city of Dubrovnik, you are offered various Game of Thrones tours which will lead you around the major filming locations and explain how the medieval fortress of Dubrovnik has been used to cater for the requirements of the show.
The Unesco world heritage city of Split has moreover been used on several occasions by the brains behind HBO’s masterpiece. One of Split’s major tourist attractions, the ancient mansion of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, known as Diocletian’s Palace, was notably used to film underground passageways in Mereen.
In addition to the major cities of Split and Dubrovnik, a great amount of locations in Croatia provided the sets for Braavos and Mereen, the outside shots of Braavos were mostly filmed in Sibenik while the producers relocated to Kils Fortress for outside shots of Mereen.
The small Mediterranean island of Malta was used mostly in season 1 for the scenes set in warmer climates. Most of season 1’s action located in King’s Landing and Pentos were shot in the Maltese town of Mdina. The town is well known for its medieval fortress which proved itself attractive for the film makers of Game of Thrones. Malta’s tenure as filming location was however rather short lived, its place was in fact taken by the aforementioned Croatia from Season 2 forward.
After a brief cameo in Season 1, filming returned to Morocco in Season 3 for the scenes occuring around Slaver’s Bay. The slave city of Astapor is in fact a carbon copy of the Moroccon city of Essaouira, which provided the colourful houses and the high city walls.
The Moroccon town of Ait Benhaddou constituted the main set for the city of Yunkai.
Ait Benhaddou is a popular destinations for film makers, having been previously used in the 5th season of Prison Break and in the movie Kingdom of Heaven
The infinite widths of frozen wilderness that can be encountered in Iceland provided the perfect set for the locations situated north of the Wall.
The Land of Always Winter, as the northernmost part of Westeros is commonly referred to, was largely inspired by the Icelandic hinterland which is known for its harsh climate and stunning natural beauty.
The cave in which Jon Snow and his wildling lover Ygritte have sex is moreover a popular tourist destination in Iceland. The hot baths inside Grojotagja cave are a great way to warm up in the freezing Icelandic winters, which proved to be another great inspiration for the producers of Game of Thrones