The seventh and latest season of Game of Thrones, one of the most successful TV series ever made, will kick off on 16th July. Based on the fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin and produced by HBO, the show burst onto the scene to huge critical and commercial success due its clever script-writing, an unpredictable and highly suspenseful plot, and a standard of production quality never before seen on TV.
In spite of heavy reliance on CGI technology, the locations chosen by the production team for many of the most pivotal scenes have had a huge impact on the success of the series, and have helped to bring the diverse landscapes of the ‘Seven Kingdoms’ to life. Locations like Malta and Morocco, chosen for the first series, have since been replaced by Spain and Croatia, while Northern Ireland and Iceland remain the filming locations for Winterfell and the Northern regions beyond the Wall. The latter two locations have since benefitted from an exponential increase in tourism, which has in turn boosted the local economy and job market. In 2015, a staggering 45 million tourists picked a holiday destination based on film and TV filming locations.
To discover the real-life locations behind some of the most iconic scenes in Games of Thrones from 2016, check out the Wimdu story-map below. Feeling inspired? Just click on ‘Start exploring’ to start your own adventure…
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Game of Thrones in Spain
At the end of the fourth season of Game of Thrones, HBO announced that part of the filming for the fifth season was going to take place in Spain. Chosen to represent the proud kingdom of Dorne, the Andalusia region did not disappoint. With its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural landscapes, it proved to be the perfect setting for this nation of warriors.
New Locations in Spain for Season Seven:
Italica Ruins, Santiponce
As in previous seasons, much of Season 7 will be filmed in Spain. A new location rumoured to be making an appearance in this year’s installment is the Italica Ruins in Santiponce near Seville, according to Santiponce’s Mayor. The ancient Roman city features a remarkably well preserved amphitheater, and will serve as the backdrop for some of the upcoming action scenes this season.
Muriola Beach, Barrika
Expected to be the landing area for Danerys and her great armada, actors and film crew were spotted in the scenic Muriola Beach in Barrika earlier this year. Rumours suggest that the beach is set to be located within the fictional kingdom of Dorne.
Castillo de Almodovar del Rio, Cordoba
The Castillo de Almodovar del Rio, located in Cordoba, Spain, will reportedly play a prominent role in Season 7, as the Kingdom of Highgarden of House Tyrell. Built in the 8th-century, the castle exudes a magnificent old-world charm, perfect for the setting of this historic fictional Kingdom.
Games of the Thrones was the first television series that was given permission to film inside the walls of the Alcázar of Seville, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (residence of the King Doran Martell of Dorne in the series). Many fans complained at the end of the series that there were too few scenes in Dorne – but don’t worry, if you’re hungry for more, the sixth season should deliver. Seville, Córdoba, Osuna, Girona and parts of Catalonia, Navarre, Guadalajara, Peñíscola and Almería will all be used to recreate Sunspear, parts of Meereen and King’s Landing, as well as Braavos and the Dothraki Sea.
The decision to film in Seville was received with enthusiasm by the Andalusian community, fueled by the benefit that Games of Thrones had on the tourism industry in Northern Ireland and Iceland. Following the announcement, 85,000 local residents sent in applications to be extras in the series. As a region with one of the highest unemployment rates in Spain, the show brought not only the chance of stardom – albeit for a few seconds- but also boosted the local economy. In 2015, the city also experienced a 25% increase in tourists compared to 2015, and an 11% increase in international visitors. In the same time-frame, Wimdu recorded a 79% increase in bookings in the city.
Game of Thrones in Croatia
Game of Thrones arrived to Croatia in 2012 to film its second season. Since then, the ancient walled towns of Dubrovnik and Split have served as the main locations for King’s Landing, replacing Malta. Places like the Old City of Dubrovnik, the fortress in Lovrijenac and Trsteno Arboretum provided the ideal settings to recreate the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, while Šibenik and Split were used to represent Braavos and Meereen.
Like Spain, the Croatian economy has also faced difficulties in recent years, and the show was welcomed as a chance to boost the tourism industry. Dubrovnik and Split in particular have since become two of the most desirable destinations in the Adriatic, helped by the temperate climate, rich cultural heritage and cheap prices.
Wimdu has seen a huge growth in the number of holiday houses and apartments available in both cities, and Games of Thrones has arguably played a huge role in the increased demand for properties in the area – it is estimated that the show brings $10 million to Dubrovnik’s tourism industry every year. Fun fact: King’s Landing is the ‘deadliest’ place in the series, as the site of no fewer than 117 deaths!
Game of Thrones in Iceland
Iceland has for several years been the setting of the ‘Land Beyond the Wall’, a rugged landscape inhabited by mythical, mysterious creatures. Other-worldly locations such as Lake Mývatn and Thingvellir National Park deliver the perfect atmosphere as described by George R. R. Martin in the literary saga, and the show has successfully showcased the natural beauty a country not previously on the usual tourist trail.
The area has since seen an unprecedented growth in tourism – Iceland welcomed 1.3 million visitors in 2015, an increase of 29.2% on the previous year. Fun fact: scenes from films such as ‘Prometheus’, ‘Die Another Day’, ‘Interstellar’ and the last chapter of the ‘Star Wars’ saga were filmed there. It boasts 17 film production companies – that’s one for every 19,000 inhabitants!
Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland
Since the first season, Northern Ireland has been the main location for scenes set in Winterfell. Places such as Castle Ward and Tollymore Forest Park have proved ideal for recreating the land in the ‘north’, whilst the ‘Dark Hedges’ path has become synonymous with the Kingsroad. The Titanic Studios in Belfast has been converted to a film studio and is where most of the scenes from the series are shot.
Game of Thrones in Malta
Although Malta was only used for the filming of the first season, the Mediterranean island is ideal for those who want to combine a beach holiday with sightseeing at some of the show’s most iconic locations. The Gozo Azure Window, a stunning limestone arch, will be familiar as the setting of the wedding of Daenerys and Drogo. There are also countless forts to be explored, such as Fort Ricasoli, where scenes in King’s Landing were initially shot.
Game of Thrones in Morocco
Morocco featured in the third season, with the towns of Ait-Ben-Haddou and Essaouira, as well as the Atlas Film Studios, used to recreate Yunkai, Pentos, Astapor and Meereen. Though the series has since moved on, Morocco’s bustling towns, seaside resorts, world-renowned cuisine and rich cultural heritage makes it a great holiday destination, whether you’re a fan of the series or not!