HBO’s Game of Thrones was one of the most expensive and cinematic TV shows of all time. The series had to include both icy and desert horizons, animate dragons, and choreograph complex, bloody battle scenes including White Walkers, wights, and regular humans.
As a result of needing so many different landscapes, the showrunners had to find several different locations around the world that they could use to make locations such as King’s Landing, Meereen, or even the Fist of the First Men come to life.
In season one, the showrunners felt as though the Mediterranean climate of Malta would provide the perfect backdrop for scenes in King’s Landing or the Free City of Pentos. Filming here provided a stark contrast to the icy climate in the north and beyond the Wall.
That being said, filming did not return to Malta after season one of Game of Thrones. Producers, instead, turned to another location on the Mediterranean.
9 Iceland National Parks
To get the perfect ice landscape for scenes beyond the Wall, producers turned to several National Parks and glaciers across the frozen lands of Iceland. For instance, the glacier at Snæfellsjökull was used to bring the Fist of the First Men to life.
In addition, the ‘mountain that looked like an arrowhead’ that served as the backdrop to Viserion’s death was the Kirkjufellsfoss mountain.
8 Grjótagjá cave
While several scenes beyond the wall carried a feeling of doom and fear associated with them, due to the impending threats of either the White Walkers or the Wildling army being associated with the lands beyond the Wall, others were heartwarming.
Jon Snow, for instance, had some of the best moments of his life beyond the Wall with Ygritte. The scene they shared in the cave was actually filmed at a popular tourist spot known as Grjótagjá Cave.
The beautiful North African country of Morocco was used to film several scenes for Daenerys’ journey across Essos and the Free Cities. Most notably, scenes in Astapor and Yunkai were filmed across Morocco.
In order to film the walls of Yunkai, producers filmed at Aït Benhaddou, with production even using some of the sets that had been built to represent the ancient city of Jerusalem for 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven.
The Medieval past of Spain was used to bring the lands of Dorne to life for the TV series, with the Islamic history of the Mediterranean country being used for locations such as Sunspear and the Water Gardens of Dorne.
In addition to filming for Dorne, producers also filmed around Córdoba in order to capture the Long Bridge of Volantis.
5 Castillo de Zafra
One of the most iconic storylines in the series concerned Jon Snow’s parentage. For years, fans speculated as to who Jon’s mother could be, with the prevailing theory being that he was the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
These theories were confirmed when the series showed a flashback to the Tower of Joy, showing Ned Stark promising his sister, Lyanna Stark, that he would care for her son, Jon Snow. The tower itself was the Castillo de Zafra, a location in Spain.
4 Castle Ward
Castle Ward from County Down in Northern Ireland was one of the most important filming scenes in the entirety of Game of Thrones. Castle Ward formed most of the exterior filming for the Stark’s castle of Winterfell.
While the Winterfell filming alone makes Castle Ward one of the most important filming locations, the grassy banks surrounding the Castle were also used for generic army encampments in the series.
As said earlier, Malta used to be the site of King’s Landing in season one of Game of Thrones. However, after the showrunners visited the Croatian city of Dubrovnik before filming season two, they decided that Dubrovnik looked exactly how they imagined King’s Landing to look.
The Medieval city is surrounded by a wall and sits on the glistening Mediterranean Sea, making it a perfect location for the iconic King’s Landing. The city has leaned into its Game of Thrones connection, with its tourism increasing significantly due to the popularity of the TV series.
2 Paint Hall Studio
So far, only outdoor locations have been discussed, but, naturally, some scenes must be filmed in a studio setting. Most of the Game of Thrones studio scenes were filmed at Paint Hall Studio in Northern Ireland.
The studio is the largest studio in Europe and housed interior sets for Winterfell, Castle Black, the Great Sept of Baelor, and even Daenerys’ throne room in the Great Pyramid of Meereen, to name a few.
1 Magheramorne Quarry
Staying in Northern Ireland, Magheramorne Quarry held some of the most action packed scenes in Game of Thrones. This site in Northern Ireland was home to the most shocking, terrifying, and brutal battle sequences in the show’s history.
Most notably, the action from the Battle of Blackwater was filmed here, as was the horrifying showdown between the humans and the White Walkers at Hardhome in season five. Additionally, this quarry was also home to the Castle Black set, bringing life to the everyday activities of the Night’s Watch.
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