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While we will do our best to not spoil any of the latest series, be warned those who have yet to finish season 5: here be spoilers.
King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, is a grand city located on the east coast of Westeros. Currently ruled by the Lannisters and, to a lesser extent, the Tyrells, King’s Landing has been the scene of many of the show’s most iconic moments, from Cersei’s walk of shame, to the battle between the Red Viper and the Mountain, which took place outside the city walls.
The show’s representation of King’s Landing is achieved using a mix of practical and digital effects, though the most commonly used location for exterior shots is Dubrovnik, in southern Croatia.
Known for its beautiful old-town, surrounded by stone walls and the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is one of the most striking cities in Europe and an appropriate location for Westeros’ glamorous and fiercely guarded capital.
Winterfell was once held by the Stark family, and is the capital of the north. Now the seat of the House Bolton and the thoroughly evil Ramsay, Winterfell has moved on being the backdrop of Ned Stark’s doomed sense of honour, to a nightmarishly bleak place of violence and torture. Still, its importance can’t be understated in the battle for political power.
While Winterfell is now more often filmed in a studio in Belfast, the exterior of the castle and its grounds played a prominent part in the show’s first series. Filmed at Castle Ward, Northern Ireland, with the National Trust site standing in for Winterfell’s courtyard, the castle has also been used as the setting of several key scenes in the series.
Castle Ward was also used for the exterior shots of the Twins, where Robb Stark met with the House Frey, putting the wheels in motion for the notorious red wedding (which was filmed in a studio).
For GoT nuts, Castle Ward now offers a Game of Thrones experience, offering archery and the chance to dress up as your favourite characters. Hopefully, violent death is optional.
Moving even further north, much of the series revolves around the fate of Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch, who take up residence at The Wall – a giant border separating Westeros from the wastelands, wildlings and monsters beyond.
Differing from the cold-but-habitable locations used for Winterfell, and the exotic locales used for King’s Landing, Dorne and wherever Daenerys is conquering, beyond the Wall is a hostile, if beautiful, ice-capped wasteland.
Dorne is the home of the Martell family, and the setting for one of Game of Thrones’ most unpopular storylines. Jaime Lannister’s excursion to Dorne has irked many fans, simply for the fact that it’s not particularly interesting and takes up valuable time that could be spend with dragons.
Nevertheless, as the show continues to grow in popularity, the producers have taken the opportunity to introduce another glamorous location. Representing Dorne in the show is Spain, and some of its many medieval palaces.
Seville is most often used, with its medieval Islamic palaces perfect for Dorne’s exotic capital, Sunspear. Indeed, even if you’re not a fan of this storyline, Seville is definitely worth checking out, with cheap beer, tapas, and beautiful architecture a feature of the city.
Daenerys Targaryen, mother of dragons, freer of slaves, and all-round great gal, has done her fair share of travelling since first meeting Khal Drogo in series one of the show. The closest she has come to settling is Meereen, a large city in Slaver’s Bay.
Having spent a great deal of her time in the past few seasons amassing an army of liberated slaves, Daenerys perhaps has bitten off more than she can chew in Meereen, where she has been met with civil unrest and rebellion. Nevertheless, the city itself is suitably impressive – south of the Dothraki sea and potted with pyramids which house Daenerys and the city’s other wealthy residents.
As with other key locations in Game of Thrones, the look of Meereen is achieved using a mix of digital and practical effects, though Split, to the north of Dubrovnik in Croatia, plays a key part in presenting the city’s grandiosity. Diocletian's Palace in Split, which overlooks the harbor, has been used to portray some of the exteriors, and its cellars have been used to portray the city’s underground passages.
Also used to represent parts of Braavos, Split is located on the Dalmation Coast and, with its winding streets and grand palace, is ideally suited to the beautiful, sinister Meereen.
Are you watching Game of Thrones? What location would you like to see mapped?