The 7 Kingdoms in ‘Game of Thrones’ are actually these 5 real-world places
It turns out it takes less post-production tinkering than you’d expect to turn our world into the lands of Ice and Fire.
Not much in “Game of Thrones” could be described as “true to life.” King Joffrey, for instance? IRL, actually a pretty sweet guy. And the Khaleesi definitely ain’t a natural blonde. (Oh yeah, and to the best of our knowledge she hasn’t fire-hatched any dragons, either.)
Say what you will about the vaguely insane plot and ever more inventive ways of killing off characters, though, there’s one element of the show that’s surprisingly real: the locations. It turns out it takes less post-production tinkering than you’d expect to turn our world into the lands of Ice and Fire.
Whether it’s the steep crags of Winterfell or the stone palaces of King’s Landing, the scorched slave port of Astapor or the frozen whiteness beyond the Wall, the show’s most dramatic landscapes really do exist — in five countries and on two continents.
Hold on to your dragons, it’s time for a tour.
Malta: King’s Landing (season 1), Pentos
Mdina city gate (Alex Murphy/Flickr Commons).
Malta’s stone city of Mdina, with its aptly lion-topped gate, was the original King’s Landing. San Anton Palace, the Maltese president’s residence, stood in for the Red Keep, where kings are murdered and brothers and sisters get way, way too close. Other island fortresses, notably Fort St. Angelo, Fort Ricasoli and Fort Manoel, provided the backdrop for other scenes in and around Westeros’ ruling city.
The Azure Window (Robert Pittman/Flickr Commons).
Daenerys Targaryen and her ill-fated brother Viserys, meanwhile, were supposed to be across the Narrow Sea in Pentos but in fact filmed their early scenes on another corner of the island. One of Malta’s most spectacular natural monuments, the limestone archway known as the Azure Window, loomed over Daenerys’ wedding to beefy horseman Khal Drogo. Maltese officials would later complain that the shoot damaged the protected habitat, which may have been one of the reasons why the GoT crew packed up and found a different location for the following seasons.
Croatia: King’s Landing (season 2 onward), Qarth
Dubrovnik (ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP/Getty Images).
If King’s Landing suddenly acquired a lot more red tile roofs between seasons 1 and 2, it’s because it moved to Croatia’s walled city of Dubrovnik. Unlike Mdina, which is inland, Dubrovnik perches right on the coast — fairly important if your boy king’s deranged uncle is going to attack there by sea.
Minceta Tower (Romanceor/Wikimedia Commons).
Daenerys, by now widowed and mother to three dragons, hopped over to the idyllic island of Lokrum, opposite Dubrovnik, where the crew created much of the creepy city of Qarth. The House of The Undying, the site of the season finale, was the mainland’s real-life Minceta Tower. The palace gardens where Sansa has taken to moping in season 4, meanwhile, are the lush grounds of the Trsteno Arboretum, just up the coast from Dubrovnik.
Morocco: Yunkai, Astapor
Ait Benhaddou (Stefan de Vries/Flickr Commons).
The third season ventured to North Africa as the Khaleesi went on her travels in search of an army and those ever elusive ships. Producers selected two of Morocco’s most unique landscapes, Ait Benhaddou and Essaouira, to represent the fictional cities of Yunkai and Astapor respectively. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ait Benhaddou for its red citadel on the foothills of the Atlas mountains, and Essaouira for its stone sea walls topped by bronze cannon. Ait Benhaddou has the added bonus of a nearby studio in the city of Ouarzazate, so popular is the area with directors (Laurence of Arabia, The Last Temptation of Christ, Alexander and Gladiator are among the many movies filmed there).
Essaouira (Mark Fischer/Flickr Commons).
It’s Essaouira’s turn as slave-trading Astapor, however, that remains most memorable to me at least, for reasons that anyone who’s seen the season 3 finale will immediately understand.
Iceland: Beyond the Wall
On the shores of Lake Mývatn (Juergen Adolph/Flickr Commons).
If Morocco’s red plains bring the fire to ‘Game of Thrones,’ Iceland brings, er, the ice. The show’s makers quite logically headed north to shoot the part of the story that unfolds at the northernmost tip of Westeros, preferring Iceland’s otherworldly landscapes to anything CGI could produce. Vatnajökull National Park and the Svínafellsjökull glacier, both in the southwest, were picked for season 2, while most of season 3’s ultra-Wall action was filmed on and around frozen Lake Mývatn further north, littered with clumps of black lava from the active volcanos that dot the region.
Thingvellir (Andreas Tille/Wikimedia Commons).
Season 4 moved on to Thingvellir National Park, a protected area of exceptional natural beauty and another UNESCO World Heritage site. Aptly enough for the Wildlings and their proto-democracy (sort of), Thingvellir’s plains are where Iceland’s parliament was first founded and continued to assemble, under the open sky, for almost nine centuries.
Northern Ireland, UK: Winterfell, Vaes Dothrak, Kings Road, Storm’s End, Castle Black, the Iron Islands…
The Dark Hedges of Armoy (horslips5/Flickr Commons).
Northern Ireland is to ‘Game of Thrones’ what New Zealand was to ‘Lord of the Rings.’ No other country has provided so many locations for the show, from the towers of Winterfell (Castle Ward) to the shore of the Iron Islands (Ballintoy Harbour), the rocky beach where the sorceress Melisandre gives birth (Cushendun Caves) to the interlacing beech trees of Kings Road (the Dark Hedges of Armoy). If you’re watching a scene set anywhere near woods, chances are it was filmed in Tollymore Forest. Entering or exiting Castle Black? That’ll be the vast outdoor set constructed in the disused limestone quarry of Magheramorne. And the number of interiors shot at the Paint Hall studio in Belfast — where the shipyard that built the Titanic has been turned into one of the biggest studio complexes in Europe — are too many to mention.
County Antrim coastline (Paolo Trabattoni/Flickr Commons).
So keen are the regional authorities to keep the crew filming there, in fact, that Northern Ireland’s national screen agency, economic development body and the European Regional Development Fund have between them stumped up the equivalent of $15.5 million in grantsto the show’s makers. In return, the Northern Irish government estimates that the productions has boosted the region’s struggling economy by some $109 million — not least by attracting globetrotting GoT fans to themed tours of filming locations and nerd-fest exhibitions of official memorabilia. Don’t tell anyone, but we sort of want to go.
Today, the church prays for the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. That’s us. Today, we need your prayers.
Photos from Business Insider
I don’t think I have ever seen a storm like we saw last night. This was not a hurricane type storm, this was a thunderstorm that had Pensacola grey and dark and gloomy all day Tuesday, and then around 7 pm, all hell broke loose. Thunder. Lots of thunder. Not just a tornado watch, but a tornado warning for our area, one of those “get away from all the outside walls of your house to a protected inner area NOW” kind of warning.
The tornado warning passed. The tornado watch passed. We found a leaking door frame, and brought buckets. The thunder and lightning continued. We found a leaking ceiling light fixture, and put another bucket under it. The thunder and lightning and high wind continued. We found water coming down through a bathroom vent – thank God we have a lot of buckets. The thunder and lightning continued.
We found a leaking closed door frame in another part of the house – four mixing bowls, surrounded by towels. The thunder and lightning continued.
The thunder and lightning continued all through the night. We slept fitfully, AdventureMan getting up three or four times to check the buckets.
I know, it sounds like we live in a terrible house, but we have never had things leak like this before. I think it has to do with rain blowing up under the roof vent, that’s all I can think of. AdventureMan has already called the roofer, and the insurance office, who is not answering, due to the number of callers they are dealing with.
Our son and his wife, down the street, have no electricity, and will come here later for some coffee and to charge their electrical devices. A road near us has collapsed, and in the collapse, contaminated two wells, so we are on a “boil water” notice until further notifications.
Today, indeed, is a very good day to pray for the Central Gulf Coast. Most schools are closed, many offices are closed.
We sit high, but many are struggling with high water and flooded roads. Many have worse leaks than we have. Many are lacking power, and how can you boil the water without power? This storm dumped inches and inches of rain on us, so much rain that they don’t have an exact calculation yet. Our front yard is eroding in front of our eyes. And we are the lucky ones.
Pray for Pensacola.
Thank you, Desert Girl, for making known this wonderful video on earlier times in Kuwait. It brings back so many wonderful memories of our time as a young family in the Middle East and North Africa in the late 70’s and 80’s.
And thank you Ammar Alabbad for a wonderful production. I love this film.
Move 30 times? Check. Manage finances? Check. Buy or sell a house? Check. Buy a car? Check. It’s not that hard. You figure it out, you do it.
Every now and then you have a crisis that’s outside your comfort zone. This week we ran into one of those.
We’ve had a microwave, a wonderful huge microwave, with a platter that runs back and forth, instead of a circular revolving plate. About a year ago, it started stopping in mid-cook and the display would show “F9”, not a big deal, with a little jiggling, a little work around, we could get it working again and it worked most of the time.
We bit the bullet. OK, just time to get a new microwave, go somewhere where we can buy it and have it installed, because installing is outside of what we can do well.
We get to the store and discover that 36″ microwaves are very special. So special that the only one carried runs in the over $1000 range. We go to another store, same story. Evidently 36″ was to go over a 36″ range, which we have, but is no longer so trendy. Oh aarrgh. We decide to go home and do some online research, only to learn that the 36″ version for over $1000 has very poor ratings and the same problem that we currently have, made by the same manufacturer. Double aarrgh, and double aarrgh again because while AdventureMan and I are good problem solvers, we are out of our pay grade when it comes to kitchen design and installation, but we know enough to know that it has to look right.
(Does it seem to you like American appliances don’t last as long as they used to? Some old appliances I have had run forever, but I feel like I am constantly replacing or having repaired the newer appliances)
When we bought our house, we bought it from a man who has a lot of fun redesigning and remodeling and updating houses. The kitchen is small, but beautifully high end. Fortunately, he is local and I have his number so I called him and asked for his design input. He gave me several good ideas, and even better, we had a great, wonderful chat and I was able to tell him how much we enjoy the little touches he put in the house to make it special. By the time I finished, I had a plan, and it dovetails with some other work we have scheduled, to have a tankless water system put in.
Years ago, a friend gave me a book mark I still have, a quote from Bishop Sheen that says “All worry is atheism, because it is a want of trust in God” and while I believe that is true, and have greatly banished worry from my daily life, every now I find myself that squirrel running on that wheel of anxiety, knowing I am worrying for nothing, but unable, in my own strength, to get off the wheel. Thanks be to God, in his mercy, for leading me off that fruitless path!
“What will you be doing today?” asks AdventureMan as he heads out the door to the Extension Office gardens to work, helping get everything ready for the Great Spring Sale coming up the first weekend in May.
“Not much!” I grin in return.
I have always loved Thursdays, even when I was young. Thursday was always the day before Friday, a day to anticipate without feeling rushed. I am a planner. Planning takes time. You can’t plan well when you are rushed, you need quiet, uninterrupted TIME. (Have you noticed how precious time is, and we spend it like nothing?)
This week was a normal week – full. Monday we kept the grandkids because their school was closed;
Tuesday I volunteer, Wednesday I have a bible study . . . Fridays I have water aerobics and a trip to the commissary or whatever I need to do to prepare for the weekend, which tomorrow means commissary because we have guests again on Sunday. Dinners require planning, more so now that I don’t have people who help me get it all on the table, off the table, coffee and dessert served, leftovers into the refrigerator and dishes into the dishwasher or washed up. It used to be so easy. (sigh)
But today is my day. I can catch up, I can upload those photos, I can print them off for my upcoming visit to see my Mom for Mother’s Day, I can plan the menu for Sunday, check the pantry and freezer to see what I will need to pick up. I can catalog some photos, I can finish quilting one of the charity quilts. Today is sheer luxury, time!
I can even catch up with the blog a little 🙂
Today the church prays for the Diocese of Cashel and Ossory. Fascinating history these Irish people have, full of waves of immigrations and invaders and territorial squabbles. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say:
When we visited Cashel, it was because of the legend of Saint Patrick, and it was one of the most beautiful and memorable places we have ever visited, lots of places to walk and see. Here’s more from Wikipedia:
According to local mythology, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit, a mountain 20 miles (30 km) north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock’s landing in Cashel. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century.
The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to theNorman invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster,Muirchertach Ua Briain, donated his fortress on the Rock to the Church. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architectureto be found anywhere in Europe. Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries
It was NOT 123°F in Pensacola today. It might have gone over 80°F. Weird. Whacko.
I saw this amazing photo on AOL news today; it shows a Boston Marathon official in 1967 trying to pull the lone woman runner, Katherine Switzer, out of the race, trying to pull her numbers off her as she ran. He’s yelling “Get the hell out of MY race!”
Fortunately, one of her fellow runners was a football player who blocked the official and pushed him away. At this point, in 1967, the Boston Marathon was still all-male. She finished the race, the first woman to do so, ever.
1967. That’s only 46 years ago. Women didn’t do marathons in the Olympics, either. We take so much for granted now, and we’ve only so recently made the gains.