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Where in the World is Westeros?

Real Alcazar, Seville, SpainMuch of the success of the hit series Game of Thrones is due to the stunning locations.  Find out how you can visit King’s Landing, The Wall, Winterfell, Slavers’ Bay, and Braavos!

Checking into the Alfonzo XIII recently, I unexpectedly found a new best friend.
“Do you plan to visit the sites here in Seville?” asked the suave Front Desk Manager as he processed my credit card.
“We do,” I said, “I’m particularly keen to see the Real Alcazar - or Dorne as we call it, don’t we darling?” I exchanged a look with my husband, who rolled his eyes.  He’s not as much as a Game of Thrones fan as I am.
But the Front Desk Manager clearly was.  He immediately abandoned all pretense of managing the Front Desk, and leaned across it with real enthusiasm, recognizing a kindred spirit. 
“The Real Alcazar?  That’s right, senora, absolutely!  And you know, the cast stayed here?”
“They did?” I was all ears.
Oblivious to the growing line of impatient guests behind me, and my husband, who has become resigned to these kinds of detours, my new best friend kept me enthralled with all kinds of behind-the-scenes gossip. 
“… And so I had to sneak Jaime Lannister out the back way so he could go to Casablanca!” he boasted.
“Casablanca, Morocco?” I asked, suitably impressed.
“No,” he said with a sigh.  “Casablanca the tapas bar down the street.”

Game of Thrones fans are everywhere.  The breakaway HBO series has captured the imagination of an intensely passionate fandom that obsesses about what might happen next, study the colorful history of Westeros and Essos, and try to work out who the Night King might really be.  And while they can’t travel to the fictional world created by George R. R. Martin, they can do the next best thing: visit the breathtaking locations where the series is filmed.

CSI can only do so much, and the Game of Thrones producers have spent lavishly to scout and secure some of the world’s most stunning locations to bring Westeros and Essos to life with their distinct castles, keeps, septs, walls, and fortresses that are such integral parts of the epic.  With concurrent filming in at least three locations at any given time, Game of Thrones fans have an extensive list of destinations to add to their travel bucket list. 


In Season 1, scenes set in King’s Landing, the fictional Southern capital of the Seven Kingdoms were filmed in Malta, using the San Antonio Palace, Fort Ricasoli, and Fort St. Angelo as the Red Keep.  Malta’s ancient city of Medina was used more multiple exterior shots of both King’s Landing and other locations.  The famous Azure Window seascape is easily recognizable in the “lively” wedding of Khal Drogo and Daenyrs Targaryen.  “A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths,” observes the cynical Illyrio Mopatis, “is considered a very dull affair.”


Croatia soon replaced Malta.  From Season 2 onwards, scenes in the capital’s streets and surrounding areas were filmed in Croatia.  The picturesque towns of Ston and Split with their distinctive red clay roofs are often used for panoramic shots of King’s Landing.  Sibenik plays the role of the Free City of Braavos, where Arya Stark goes to train at the House of the Undying, which is filmed in Minceta Tower.  Exterior shots of King’s Landing, including some of the important street scenes are often filmed in the walled city of Dubrovnik while the rocky facades of Kits Fortress are used for scenes set in Meereen. 


Morocco is very familiar with film crews: the extensive film sets in the Atlas Mountains are often used for exotic and historic film locations; Ouarzazate with its red clay towers, is the setting for the Free City of Pentos, where Daenyrs and Viserys Targarayen wait out their exile.  But the Game of Thrones shooting is not limited to the Atlas studios.  The lovely seaside village of Essaouira, known for its carpets, is now better known as Astapor, part of Slaver’s Bay. 


As my new best friend at the Alfonzo XIII noted, southern Spain was used for a number of the more beautiful settings in the series.  To create the splendor of Dorne, the only independent Kingdom of the Seven and the home of Oberon Martell and the Sand Snakes the producers choose the sumptuous Real Alcazar in Seville with its intricate Islamic decor.  Nearby Cordoba was the location to film the famous Long Bridge in Volantis, where Tyrion Lannister and Ser Jorah Mormont join forces.


True adventure and excitement await fans of the Night’s Watch and Wildlings in stunning locations in Iceland where the scenes at and beyond The Wall are shot.  Every Icelander is a diehard Game of Thrones fan: I once got into such an intense discussion about Jon Snow’s lineage with a taxi driver that my husband had to remind both of us that we had reached our destination. 

The dramatic glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, and thermal springs attract thousands of visitors each month, who take advantage of the numerous guided thematic tours on offer from Reykjavik and the northern city of Akureyri.  The interior scenes at Castle Black are shot on a sound set, but you can visit the Fist of the First Men, where Samwell Tarley kills the White Walker at the glaciers of Snaefellsjökull and Scinafellsjökull.  Nearby, at Höfðabrekkuheiði are the Frostfangs.  The eerie lava fields near Mývatn Lake were used for the extensive camp of Mance Rayder’s camp

The Grjkótagjá cave, famous for Jon and Ygritte’s thermal bath is open to the public, as is Thingvellir National Park on the west coast, which plays the role of the infamous “North” of Westeros and is the setting for many of the scenes between Arya and the Hound.

Northern Ireland

For everything else, there is Northern Ireland!  The show’s main base and sound sets are based near Belfast, making excellent use of nearby castle ruins to play serve as Castle Black, Hardhome, Winterfell, and the Iron Islands.  Exterior shots of the beach near Dragonstone are shot in Northern Island but the famous inlet pathway, scene of the reunion of Tyrion and Jon Snow and several very steamy scenes between Jon and Daenyrs is actually shot in Northern Spain at Gaztelugatxe.

Contact Alexander + Roberts to customize a journey to Morocco, Iceland, Spain, or Croatia.  Send a raven to one of our knowledgeable reservation agents to find out more.  But send it soon!  Winter is coming!

Posted: 1/26/2018 1:43:33 PM by Alexander + Roberts