So, you’ve seen the show and you may even have read the books. But you can’t call yourself a die-hard fan until you’ve visited the locations…
If you’ve listened in on conversations around the office lately, chances are you’ve heard the words ‘Game of Thrones’ being bandied about. It’s the TV show – nay, phenomenon – everyone’s talking about. And if you haven’t seen it, then treat yourself to the box sets. Trust us. After all, the 1.2 million people in the UK who tuned in to watch the start of series 4 last Monday can’t be wrong.
If you’re a self-confessed Game of Thrones geek and just watching the show isn’t enough, check out these not-so-mythical lands where you can follow in the footsteps of royalty, wildlings and, yes, even dragons…
Malta’s former capital, Mdina, took a starring role in the first series when it was picked to represent King’s Landing, the biggest city in fictional Westeros. Its chunky Medieval walls perfectly depicted the home turf of that good-for-nothing Joffrey. When you visit, be sure to delve into the Mdina dungeons. It’s a maze of spooky underground passageways and cells – very GoT – so make sure you don’t lose track of time and get locked in.
From series 2 onwards, Dubrovnik’s old town stepped in to take Mdina’s place. With King’s Landing being the single most important location in the show, the backdrop had to be spectacular. And Dubrovnik doesn’t disappoint. It’s as immaculately preserved as matriarch Olenna Tyrell, with just as much class. Wander the city’s 1,940-metre-long battlements and be bowled over by its shimmering marbled streets. Or sample a slice of the Adriatic Riviera, right on your doorstep.
Bleak. Isolated. Other-worldly. We’re guessing Iceland didn’t have much competition at the auditions for ‘North of the Wall’. On the show it’s home to wildlings and White Walkers – characters you wouldn’t want to meet on a dark glacier – but don’t let that put you off. Take a layer or 5 of clothing (‘winter is coming’, you know the score) and prepare to be met by scenery you could have sworn was digitally retouched for the small screen. It wasn’t. The ice really is that blue.
Daenerys Targaryen – AKA the dragon lady – freed an army of slaves to help her invade Westeros on the Gulf of Grief at Slaver’s Bay. Except it wasn’t Slaver’s Bay. It was Essaouira in Morocco, and it’s well worth a visit. This bohemian seaside town, just under 3-hours’ drive from Marrakech, has an UNESCO-endorsed medina and enough seafood restaurants to feed, well, an army.
Just 4 kilometres (as the dragon flies) from Dubrovnik is the pocket-sized island of Lokrum. It posed as the ancient port of Qarth in Game of Thrones, but has plenty of history of its own – legend has it Richard the Lionheart was once shipwrecked here. To check out the filming locations, head to the 15th-century Benedictine monastery and the botanical garden which is filled with sub-tropical plants and roaming peacocks.
A whopping 16 filming locations were used over 3 of Northern Ireland’s counties, but our pick of the bunch is Castle Ward in County Down, which portrayed Winterfell, home of the Starks. Following an 8-week-long makeover, the 17th-century farmyard played host to Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and a host of other Hollywood stars.
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Author: El Berwick
Published: April 14, 2014
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