Fans are not only drawn to check out the social media accounts of the talented actors who starred in Game of Thrones, but they are also going as far as visiting the stunning locations where the hit HBO show was filmed.
The dragon stone castle, Winterfell, King’s Landing and other settings in GOT that look like a complete work of fiction, actually do exist in the real world. While the editors definitely made some enhancements and modifications, the exotic and volatile Westeros world that’s become so familiar to us owe a lot to these 6 real-life locations:
Most of the interior settings of GOT were filmed in Northern Ireland. The Paint Hall studios in Northern Ireland was the major headquarters for GOT’s production. Shots in the Great Sept of Baelor, the Iron Throne and the Red Keep were filmed here. Structures were also set up in the massive studio for outdoor sites like Castle Black and Craster’s Keep.
Northern Ireland is one of the regular filming locations for GOT because of its flawless landscapes and tremendous height, says Janet Graham-Borba, the HBO senior vice president of physical location. Plus they had the cooperation of Northern Ireland film agency.
Next, to Northern Ireland, Iceland was consistently used in GOT to film several icy sequences. This was where Daenerys lost her first dragon while helping the Night’s Watch fight the White Walkers. Grjotagja, the natural hot spring where Ygritte and Jon Snow got intimate is also located here. Iceland served as the physical location for scenes depicting the North of Westeros. Arya and Sandor’s grim and long sojourn through the Riverlands was shot here.
That intense scene where the great ice wall came crashing down was also filmed here.
Malta’s warm climate and medieval fortresses attracted GOT’s filmmakers. They used it to film several scenes of the sunny King’s Landing in Season 1. Fort Manoel was used as the exterior for the Sept of Baelor where Ned Stark’s head was sliced off.
This location experienced a tremendous increase in tourist number after GOT filmed here—to the displeasure of Maltese officials (rumour has it) who complained about their protected habitats getting damaged. Croatia replaced Malta for most of King’s Landing screen time.
Dubrovnik in Croatia was the real-life counterpart for the exterior shots of King’s Landing from Season 2 to Season 5. It was the backdrop you saw during the faceoff between King Joffrey’s forces and those of Stannis Baratheon in season 2’s Battle of the Blackwater.
Croatia was also used for scenes set in Slaver’s Bay and Qarth. It was where the title ‘breaker of chains’ was added to Daenerys’ long string of titles. The crucifixion of 163 slave children as a warning from the slave masters to Daenerys was shot here.
Croatia is also home to the Minceta Tower that was used to film the exterior part of the House of the Undying.
Africa was not excluded from the list of countries that felt the presence of GOT’s crew. The high brown city walls and colorful houses of Astapor is a carbon copy of Essaouira in Morocco. Filming of new locations like Astapor and Yunkai in Slaver’s Bay moved to Morocco in Season 3. But they left and never returned after Daenerys marched out of Mereen with her Unsullied Army at the end of Season 3.
The Spanish daily El Pais has it that the Basque region of Spain witnesses about 2400 tourists a day ever since episode of GOT when Daenerys returned home to Dragonstone. The winding long flight of stairs leading up to the castle beside the splashing waters of the Narrow Sea is exactly that way in real life. And fans are trooping in to get a feel of what it was like for the mother of Dragons.
The Dragonstone castle is actually an old monastery called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe which translates to “Castle Rock”—it does sound like something from Game of Thrones.