Hit TV series Game of Thrones might take place on screen in a fantasy land of knights, wights and dragons, but anyone can tread in the footsteps of their favourite (or least favourite) characters at these incredible real-life locations.
Down in the south of Westeros, the scheming Lannister and Tyrell families have both had their sights set on the coveted Iron Throne at King’s Landing. For the capital’s location, showrunners chose the already mediaeval-looking Old Town of Dubrovnik in Croatia.
In the city’s Gradac Park and the abandoned Hotel Belvedere, fans can stand where the murderous King Joffrey and gallant Oberyn Martell met their grisly demises, while the 15th-century Trsteno Arboretum stars as the Red Keep gardens.
The success of the show has proven a double-edged sword for the city. Its mayor has imposed new limits to keep flocking fans at bay.
This is the spot in the Iron Islands where Theon Greyjoy arrived back and admired his ship the Sea Bitch. It’s also where he first met his sister Yara. When it’s not being used as a filming location for Game of Thrones, Ballintoy reverts to being a small fishing harbour tucked away in between the rocks on the north coast of Co. Antrim. #ironislands #theongreyjoy #seabitch #yara #gameofthrones #hbo #ballintoy #ballintoyharbour #harbour #fishingharbour #coantrim #antrim #countyantrim #NorthernIreland #northcoast #rocks #fujifilmxt2 #fujix #fujifilm_uk
The rugged landscape of Northern Ireland was perfect for capturing the blustering winds and bracken of Westeros’ northernmost lands.
The foreboding treeline of Dark Hedges, an avenue of beech trees planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors featured in season one as Arya escaped her Lannister pursuers. Meanwhile, the little-known seaside town of Ballintoy in County Antrim is filled to the brim with Ironborn on-screen as the Iron Islands’ capital, Pike. For serious Stark aficionados, there are tours that take in 20 locations making up their ancestral home of Winterfell and surrounds.
Only the bravest – or most foolhardy – characters on Game of Thrones venture beyond the Wall, where undead polar bears appear to be the least of the problems.
Off-screen, the setting for the shadowy lands of the White Walkers – Iceland – is no less ethereal, although it is a far more attractive tourist spot.
The volcanic Lake Myvatn, in northern Iceland, sets the scene for Mance Rayder’s eventually futile amassing of the wildling army that dominated season three, while the nearby cave of Grjotagja is where Jon Snow and Ygritte finally get romantic. Jon might not know where it is, but now you do.
While Croatia appears on-screen as the warmer end of Westeros, Spain sets the scene for the most southerly of George R. R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms, Dorne, as well as the neighbouring continent of Essos.
The bullring at Osuna in southern Spain becomes the deadly fighting pits of Meereen, where unlucky-in-love Jorah Mormont gets his gladiator on.
Seville’s Moorish Alcazar castle fills in for Dorne’s capital Sunspear – home to the deadly Sand Snakes.
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