As a sane human being, I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I have declared fealty to House Stark since the first season of mega-hit TV Series Game of Thrones. Time and again I have been called Arya by friends and acquaintances due to apparently bearing a physical resemblance to Maisie Williams, the actress portraying the character. I have, of course, used this to my advantage multiple times, quipping “A girl has no name” or “I am not a boy” whenever appropriate.
In reality, GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire has taken over my life. Thus, I have made it a travel goal or more aptly a true life’s goal to visit as many Thrones filming locations as I possibly could. Call it life imitating art. But really, it’s just that the locations look so stunning even with heavy CGI, one can only wonder how naturally beautiful they must be.
In light of my aforementioned goal to travel to as many real-life filming locations for what is arguably the best TV show around, I have decided to make this a work in progress and list down every location as soon as I visit them. Seriously, l
ess few things have made me more excited.
SPOILER ALERT: Some descriptions may include spoilers so read at your own risk.
1. Island of Dragonstone in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Bermeo, Spain
Imagine my frustration when I found out that my ultimate crush, Kit Harrington/Jon Snow, and I were breathing the same Basque air when he was in Spain to film the now famous “Ben D. Knee” scenes with Emilia Clarke/Daenerys Targaryen some 50 kilometers from where I was living. Frustration because it was the epitome of the saying “so close yet so far”. Anyway, I got to finally visit the hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe a few months later not really knowing for sure how they were going to incorporate it in the show and just a couple of months shy of its first prominent feature as “the new and improved” eponymous Dragonstone castle a.k.a the Targaryen stronghold yet again in Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
How to get there: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe sits in the middle of two towns and can be easily reached by Bizkaibus to either Bakio or Bermeo from Bilbao in the Basque Country of Spain. Be ready for a hike filled with beautiful scenery!
2. Dorne and the Water Gardens in Real Alcázar de Sevilla, Sevilla, Spain
I had the exact same experience with the Southern region of Dorne. I was there yet again a few months after filming concluded and a few months before Season 5 premiered. Thank goodness I was spared the feeling of missing out on Oberyn, RIP. While many fans just absolutely hate the way the Dorne plot line played out on the series, I would have to say that the location scouts knocked this one out of the park. The Real Alcázar de Seville, a royal palace in Andalusia featuring mudéjar architecture, serves as the seat of the ruling House Martell of Dorne. The location itself, in all its vitality and vibrancy, is the best, if not the only good part about Dorne in the whole show (not including Pedro Pascal).
How to get there: There are several ways to get to Seville, the easiest ones are from Madrid. Flights and trains are frequent as well as bus schedules if coming from neighboring Andalusian cities. Seville itself is such a beautiful place worth visiting even sans the Game of Thrones aspect.
3. King’s Landing in Walls of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Anywhere you go in the city of Dubrovnik you are bound to be offered to join a Game of Thrones-inspired tour around its city walls. Such has been the lasting effect of the show on an otherwise quaint city along the Adriatic coast. Even without all the CGI, traces of King’s Landing are so easily recognizable when you wander around the city. Sturdy orange roofs, clear blue waters, ancient grey walls – these are the sights that make Dubrovnik a beautiful place on its own. True to my anti-establishment nature, I went around Dubrovnik without a tour but with a friend I made at the hostel. We visited the usual sights such as the stairs leading up to the Great Sept of Baelor but we also went to [Tommen’s] cat-infested corners that people would otherwise miss. We even hiked all the way up to Srd (instead of taking a cable car, how anti-establishment can you get) for amazing views of King’s Landing.
How to get there: There are now several direct flights from major cities in Europe to Dubrovnik and so it’s a pretty easy place to reach. There are also a lot of busses going to and from neighbouring cities in the Balkans, particularly along the coast.
4. Long Bridge of Volantis in Roman Bridge of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
It’s no secret that Thrones has a special affinity for the South of Spain. This extends to tapping even just bridges as film locations, as is the case of the Roman Bridge of Córdoba standing in as the busy Long Bridge of Volantis. We haven’t really seen much of Volantis on the show, save for a few scenes involving a Red Priestess preaching about Daenerys as their saviour and minutes later a prostitute dressed as the Dragon Queen herself. Regardless, the Roman Bridge of Córdoba is such a sight to behold that I can believe, while walking through its busy passage and over to the other side, that it could truly be the Long Bridge of Volantis.
How to get there: There are many ways to get there such as via direct trains to the city from Madrid. Andalusia enjoys a vast system of busses that makes going around the cities very convenient. Córdoba in itself is one of Southern cities in Spain not to be missed.