Rediscover them even as the final season airs
GROUND-BREAKING TV series Game of Thrones is airing the finale for the eighth and final season this May 19.
Although fans will have to bid farewell to the kingdom of Westeros, the good news is that its stunning film locations, including national parks and Unesco World Heritage Sites, aren’t going anywhere.
From lava caves in Iceland where Jon Snow and Ygritte spent the night, to the coastal town of Essaouira in Morocco where Daenerys freed the Unsullied, Traveloka (www.traveloka.com) compiles eight Game of Thrones locations you can visit to rediscover the world of dragons, White Walkers and the quest for the Iron Throne.
1. KINGSROAD — THE DARK HEDGES, NORTHERN IRELAND
One of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland, The Dark Hedges is lined with beech trees located on a quiet road near the town of Bally money in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Twisted branches form an arch over the road, making it animpressive spot for many travellers, artists and painters.
Known to Game of Thrones as Kingsroad, the iconic landmark was seen when Arya and Gendry flee King’s Landing at the end of the Season Two premiere, The North Remembers.
The Dark Hedges is not the only must see location in Northern Ireland― the area that surrounds it attracts fans all over as it has been used to film Winterfell, Castle Black and the Stark family war encampment.
In addition to The Dark Hedges, travellers to Northern Ireland will soon have more reason than ever to visit. Word is out that fans will be able to journey through a massive King’s Landing set the production crew built for Season Eight and has decided to leave standing as a tourist attraction!
2. KING’S LANDING — OLD TOWN, DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
A Unesco World Heritage site due to its historic significance, Dubrovnik’s Old Town in Croatia first appeared on the show as King’s Landing in the second season of Game of Thrones.
The late-medieval walled city has an exceptional Old Town with beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Since the
Game of Thrones phenomenon, tourism to the medieval walled city has skyrocketed.
Visitors can meander through the capital of the Seven Kingdoms on a Game of Thrones themed walking tour, passing the steps of Old Town’s magnificent St Ignatius of Loyola Church (the site of Cersei Lannister’s brutal “walk of shame”) as well as Fort Lovrijenac, the fortress where filming of the epic Battle of Blackwater took place
3. ROYAL PALACE OF DOME — REAL ALCAZAR PALACE, SEVILLE, SPAIN
Alavish royal palace at the centre of the city, the Real Alcazar Palace is recognised as the oldest royal palace in Europe that is still in use. The upper chambers of the Alcazar are still used by the Spanish royal family as their official residence in Seville.
The famous gardens of the Alcazar in Seville were depicted in many scenes of the Game of Thrones series. Although the palace is Seville’s biggest tourist attraction, the cast and crew of the series got permission to shut half of it down to film crucial scenes set in Dorne, the southernmost part of the kingdom of Westeros. Its gardens are well known to fans of the show.
4. DRAGONPIT — ITALICA, SPAIN
The Roman ruins of Italica, with its remarkable mosaics and an impressive amphitheatre is a filming location for the seventh and eighth season of Game of Thrones, providing a dramatic backdrop for some of the most intense negotiations as seen in the Season Seven finale.
Founded in 206 BC, the amphitheatre held 25,000 people and was considered a pivotal meeting point. In Game of Thrones, the ruins also represent a significant meeting place and holds the largest gathering of characters in the series’ history.
5. JON AND YGRITTE’S LOVE NEST — GRJOTAGJA CAVE, ICELAND
Iceland’s incredibly beautiful Grjotagja Cave was made famous in 2013 when it was visited by JonSnow and Ygrittein Kissed by Fire, the fifth episode of Game of Thrones’ Season Three. This scene is still regarded by many Game of Thrones fans as one of the most beautiful and romantic sequences filmed for the show. Due to filming restrictions, the scene was actually shot in a studio, but the cave was meticulously recreated by the series’ creative team to maximise authenticity, although they did add a waterfall to play up the romance in that scene.
Ever since the series’ first featured Iceland in Season Two, glimpses of the country’s frozen landscapes have lured fans from around the world. The “Game of Thrones effect” has been cited as a key factor behind the remarkable growth in annual visitors to Iceland, from 566,000 in 2011, the year it premiered, to more than one million in 2015.
6. BEYOND THE WALL — VATNAJOKULL NATIONAL PARK, ICELAND
Vatnajokullin Iceland, which is also known as Vatna Glacier, is the place that Game of Thrones fans know as the area beyond the Wall. It is said to be one of the largest ice caps in Europe. In the series, the Land of Always Winter required a fair amount of CGI to create, but the massive glaciers, ice caves, and active geothermal areas used as filming locations for the show are places you can actually visit in Vatnajokull National Park, a protected wilderness east of ReykjavÌk in Iceland.
Spanning an area of 8,000 square kilometres, the glacier covers around eight per cent of Iceland’s total land area. At its deepest point, the glacier is 1,000 metres deep and hides some central active volcanoes.
7. YUNKAI — HISTORIC FORT (OR KASBAH) OF AIT BEN HADDOU, MOROCCO
In the Kingdom of Morocco, the Kasbah Ait Benhaddou is one of themost eye-catching filming locations featured in the Game of Thrones series, providing the backdrop for the cities of Yunkai and Pentos in Season Three where the majority of Daenerys’s scenes are set.
Along with the Ounila River, this provided the perfect setting for Daenerys’ battle with the Second Sons. A Unesco World Heritage Site, today Ait Ben Haddou remains relatively unchanged, and thus provides a fascinating look in to a forgotten era, and showcases the lives of those living in rural Morocco.
Climbing to the top of the village, travellers will get an amazing outlook over the town and the desert beyond.
8. ASTAPOR — ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO
In Morocco, fans will also find that the cliff wall of the city of Essaouira also stood in for the fictional city of Astapor, upon which Daenerys’s dragons flew in the Season Three finale. Essaouira is most familiar to Game of Thrones fans as the home of the highly skilled slave-soldiers known as the Unsullied.
In real life, Essaouira is a port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast well known for its fresh seafood and traditional argan oil production, as well as its Unesco-inscribed 18th-century medina (old town) filled with artisan shops.