Game of Thrones, or rather the book on which it’s based (A Song of Ice and Fire), is set in an immense world, incorporating several continents, seven kingdoms, and large unmapped areas. The HBO film crews travelled thousands of miles to capture environments for the show.
1. Castle Ward, Northern Ireland
Castle Ward, an 18th-century National Trust property located near the village of Strangford in County Down, was a stand-in for Winterfell, home to the Stark family.
2. The Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
The beautiful Mourne Mountains, in south-east Northern Ireland, were used to portray parts of Vaes Dothrak, home of the Dothraki. The region has been linked with popular literature before; it inspired C.S. Lewis to write The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
3. Mdina, Malta
King’s Landing, the royal capital of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms, has been created using numerous existing spots as a backdrop. The first was Mdina, the old capital of Malta. A medieval walled town boasting strong defensive Norman fortifications and moats, it was a perfect fit. The characters in the show swap sun hats for chain mail, however.
© Calin Stan/Shutterstock
4. Fort Manoel, Malta
Fort Manoel was built by the Knights of Malta between 1723 and 1755 and served as an active military establishment until as recently as 1906. In Game of Thrones it serves as the Sept of Baelor, the holiest spot in Westeros, and scene of the first season’s most dramatic moment.
© Ingus Kruklitis/Shutterstock
5. Fort Lovrijenac, Croatia
Fort Lovrijenac, an imposing fortress nestled on rocks just outside Dubrovnik, features walls some 12 metres thick in parts. Hamlet is performed here every summer, but for the purposes of the show it filled in for the Red Keep. The interiors were actually shot in a studio in Belfast.
6. Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
Where better for the desolate expanses north of The Wall than Iceland? Scenes set in The Frostfangs and at the Fist of the First Men were shot on the Svínafellsjökull glacier in Iceland‘s Vatnajökull National Park and the nearby region during November 2011.
7. Essaouira, Morocco
Daenerys Targaryen spends much of her time in the exotic environs of Slaver’s Bay, home to the fictional ports of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen. For the purposes of the show, Morocco’s beguiling seaside city Essaouira was a perfect fit.
© LOUIS-MICHEL DESERT/Shutterstock
8. Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland
Ballintoy is a tiny village in Northern Island. Home to just a few hundred, it was put firmly on the map when it was chosen to represent the port of Pyke, on the Iron Islands.
9. Dubrovnik, Croatia
By the second season of the show, Dubrovnik had replaced Mdina as the setting for King’s Landing. The Croatian city, awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1979, boasts nearly 2km of defensive walls that proved invaluable for some of the later scenes.
10. Azure Window, Malta
The Dothraki wedding in the first series took place by Malta’s Azure Window, a natural arch created thousands of years ago after several limestone caves collapsed. The area is renowned for its scuba diving, and the arch has also been featured in Clash of the Titans (1981) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002).