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London - In the bleak break between seasons of Game of Thrones, what better way for fans to keep in the spirit than by visiting one of the exotic lands where filming took place?
Here are locations where the show’s spellbinding battle for power, incest, pillaging and frequent death run riot. Here is an edited version of a blog compiled by the travel site GoEuro.co.uk.
Much of the fictitious land of Westeros is located in Northern Ireland. Winter may have just left the Emerald Isle, but given Ireland’s average 300 rainy or cloudy days a year, many of the locations filmed here were used to depict Winterfell, the north, and other less sunny parts of the Seven Kingdoms.
Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
Those who want to tread the same grounds as the Family Stark should explore the area of Downpatrick, County Down, where Castle Ward was used to film parts of the family home. Nearby Audley’s Castle and Woods were the location for the family’s war encampment in Season One. Further north you’ll find the setting for Castle Black – the abandoned Magheramorne quarry.
Nearby Redhall Estate appeared in both Seasons Two and Three under various guises, including as the inn where Catelyn Tully captured Tyrion Lannister before taking him to her twisted sister in Eyrie.
With eerie in mind, Ballymoney’s Dark Hedges provided the backdrop for the iconic Kingsroad. As one of the most photographed sites in Ireland, their dramatic appearance was perfect for the award-winning series.
Ireland’s rugged terrain is pretty adaptable as a mythological setting, with Sandy Brae Path at Newry and Mourne used as the site of the twin horse statues marking the entrance to the Dothraki holy ground.
A final tip for Northern Ireland is to head to the Caves of Cushendun, County Antrim, where one of the more disturbing scenes from Season Two was filmed: Melisandre’s birthing of the shadow baby. The area itself is quaint and scenic.
Malta is a landscape that constituted much of King’s Landing in Season One. The country’s former capital, Mdina, was used to represent the central city of Westeros to great effect; the many well-preserved historical buildings fit perfectly with the theme of exotic, medieval grandeur.
San Anton Palace Malta
Lord Stark’s announcement to Cersei that he knew of her incestuous secret was filmed in the St Dominic Monastery, after it was transformed into the Gardens of the Red Keep.
His subsequent comeuppance took place nearby at Fort Manoel. Many similar structures close by were used, such as Fort St Angelo, where Arya chasing the cat beneath the castle was filmed. As the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, Malta housed the Iron Throne for some time.
Fittingly, one of the venues for this was the San Anton Palace, in real life a residence of the island’s president.
Azure Window, Gozo
The natural backdrop of the Azure Window, located on Malta’s smaller sister island Gozo, was used as the setting of Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding to Khal Drogo. The area is still free for tourists to explore; however, part of the reason Malta was not utilised in following seasons was disputes between island officials and the production crew over damage that may have been inflicted on the natural wonder. Uber-fans looking to recreate the scenes for their own special day will be relieved to know weddings are still allowed there.
The second season saw filming of King’s Landing moved to Croatia. With Dubrovnik being a seaside walled city, similar to the Westeros capital, the crew were offered additional opportunities to film exterior shots as well as the interior shots they had been limited to in Mdina.
Old Town Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island
The surrounding waters provided a setting for the epic Battle of Blackwater, while Fort Lovrijenac became the new Red Keep. Sections of Qarth in the Essos continent were also filmed here, with the Minceta Tower used as the exterior of the House of The Undying.
Many other parts of Qarth were filmed on the nearby island of Lokrum, including the botanical gardens used for outdoor scenes such as the welcome party thrown by Xaro. Lokrum is said to be cursed, so much like the characters in Thrones, you would be wise to visit but not to stay.
Volcanic but frozen, Iceland truly is the Land of Ice and Fire. Barren, alien, beautiful but brutal, this mysterious landscape is the perfect location for the Land Beyond The Wall.
Myvatn Lake, Iceland
Filming spots included Höfoabrek-kuheioi, the Myrdalsjokull glacier, the Vatnajökull glacier – Europe’s largest ice cap – and Lake Myvatn which, although a protected area, is easily accessible to visitors. The lake is littered with unusual lava formations, aptly known as “black castles”. Iceland’s Skaftafell National Park was also put to good use.
While the life of an actor may seem glamorous, those who were involved in Icelandic scenes had to brave severe cold. The scene where John Snow fights Qhorin Halfhand near the end of Season Two took place on a cliff, with snow so deep the actors kept sinking into it.
Heading back to a more comfortable environment, Morocco was used as the primary setting for many of Daenerys’s travels in Season Three.
Although some shots here were used to represent King’s Landing in Season Three, the historic city of Ait Benhaddou, a designated Unesco World Heritage Site, was used to represent Yunkai, the Yellow City travelled to by The Mother of Dragons.
Another shooting location is Essaouira, Western Morocco, also a Unesco World Heritage Site. In the series it served as location for the slave-trading city of Astapor.
In real life, this little city is buzzing with culture, its historical beauty and stunning sea views preserved thanks to strict building restrictions. – Reuters