Throughout its run, Game of Thrones has featured a production value that rivaled most major Hollywood films. In addition to detailed costumes and stunning CGI, the show is perhaps best known for its location shooting. Rather than shoot eveything in a studio, GoT uses real-life locations across the Western Hemisphere to represent Westeros.
From the hills of Northern Ireland, to the glaciers of Iceland, Game of Throne‘s production crew spared no expense in making the most detailed show possible. Many of these locations are famous landmarks that you can visit today. So pack your bags and grab your passport, because we’re about to take a look at 10 of these famous locations.
10 The Castle Of Zafra, Spain
Appearing in season 6, The Castle of Zafra was a stand-in for the Tower of Joy, the birthplace of Jon Snow. It appeared in a flashback experienced by Bran Stark, where he saw his father, Ned, fight Targaryen forces during Robert’s Rebellion. It was here where Bran learned the truth about his ‘brother’, and Jon’s potential claim to the throne.
Like many Spanish fortress castles, Zafra was designed to fight off the Muslim Moores. The castle allegedly never fell to the invaders, and today it remains an important piece of Spanish military history.
9 The Royal Alcazar, Spain
Another location from Spain, The Royal Alcazar was used in the series as one of the palaces in the nation of Dorne. While Dorne has remained controversial among fans, no one can deny that it is one of the most beautiful locations in the show.
Much of this is owed to The Royal Alcazar’s ornate architecture, which was inspired by that of the Muslim Moores who once lived there. Built upon one of these formal settlements, the palace is one of the homes of Spain’s royal family.
8 Shane’s Caste, Northern Ireland
Many fans know that Northern Ireland was used extensively for scenes in Winterfell, Dragonstone, and just about any area between the Wall and King’s Landing. What they may not know, however, is that Northern Ireland is home to a castle whose innards were the sight of one of the show’s darkest moments.
Shane’s Castle’s crumbling stone may not resemble the gorgeous oceanfront of King’s Landing, but its dungeon was used by a radicalized High Sparrow to force confessions of guilt out of prisoners. Not even Cersei Lannister was safe, and it was here where the most powerful woman in Westeros met her match.
7 Kirkjufell Mountain, Iceland
Known in the series as Arrowhead Mountain, Kirkjunfell is one of the most iconic mounts in all of Iceland. Located on an island on the tip of the country’s western coast, the mountain offers breathtaking views from the mainland. With its swirling rock formation, the mountain almost resembles a soft serve ice cream cone.
In Game of Thrones, however, the mountain is not a sweet sight. Located north of the wall, deep within White Walker territory, the mountain looms in the background of a number of visions Bran Stark has of the Night King and his minions.
6 Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
The ancient walled city of Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco’s most popular tourist destinations. Perhaps the oldest man-made landmark on this list, the city is a world heritage site that has survived for thousands of years. There’s already enough reasons to visit this hive of history and culture, but its use as a stand-in for one of Game Of Throne‘s most important cities is what really seals the deal.
Ait Benhaddou was used to represent Yunkai, one of the southern slave cities that Daenerys Targaryen captures and liberates during her crusade. While Yunkai eventually falls back into enemy hands, the city is still an important step in her quest to the Iron Throne.
5 Downhill Beach, Northern Ireland
A beautiful beach on Northern Ireland’s northern coast, Downhill offers a scenic coastline, lush waves, majestic cliffs, and human sacrifices. Ok, so that last part doesn’t really happen there, but it happened quite often at Dragonstone, the place that Downhill Beach was intended to represent.
The home of House Targaryen, the area fell into the hands of Stannis Baratheon, who used it as a base of operations during the War of Five Kings. It was the shorefront at Downhill where the Lord of Light’s sacrifices were performed, and where Daenerys knelt upon her return.
4 Castle de Trujilo, Spain
Spain is back again, this time in a castle southwest of Madrid. Another defense against the Moores, Trujilo Castle retains its old world charm, and centuries later remains a prime example of Medival architecture. In Game Of Thrones, the castle played the part of Casterly Rock, the home of House Lannister.
Featured extensively in the 7th season, the castle was used in establishing shots during the battle to retake Casterly Rock from the Tyrells. It was here where Jaime learned the truth of who was responsible for Joffrey’s death, and where Olenna Tyrell uttered the line: “Tell Cersei, I want her to know it was me.”
3 Lovrijenac Fortress, Croatia
Starting with season 2, all of King’s Landing was shot in the Mediterranian coastal city of Dubrovnik. Filled with medieval buildings, the town is a popular tourist attraction. It was also the scene of one of Game of Thrones‘ biggest battles.
Set on an island just off of Dubrovnik’s coast, Lovrijenace Fortress was the Red Keep during much of the series. It was here where Lannister forces gathered in anticipation of Stanis Baratheon’s invasion. Of course, the would-be king suffered a crippling defeat, when his navy was decimated by wildfire.
2 Doune Castle, Scotland
While most of Winterfell’s scenes were shot in Northern Ireland, this Scottish castle was used as a major location in the North. Located north of Edinbrough, Doune may not be familiar to fans from the outside, but go to the courtyard. That’s when things get really interesting.
A stand-in for Winterfell’s courtyard, it was the location for a number of pivotal scenes. It was here where Robert Baratheon and his family entered in the first episode, where Daenerys met the Stark family at the beginning of season 8.
1 Castle Ward, Northern Ireland
Not just a castle, but a large complex of different historical buildings, Castle Ward is a town unto itself. While not from the medieval era, the castle retained many of the architectural aspects of that time to make it stand out among Northern Ireland’s stately homes.
While the main house is the most visible location, it’s the area in and around the tower house on the property every Game Of Thrones fan will recognize. The tower features prominently in nearly every scene in Winterfell, and is by far its most visible feature. There’s even a digital rendition of the tower in a number of establishing shots of the kingdom.
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