Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Themed Travel: Game of Thrones

Carrying on, dear Readers, with our Travel Trends theme, we are going to visit one of the most modern of travel trends: themed holidays. Game of Thrones has to be one of the most popular series of the moment, and certainly one of the most visual. So we decided to explore more:

Game of Thrones Travel Trend

We’ve all waited for the winter and it is finally here. The craze about the HBO’s iconic series is rife now more than ever as the new season is due to start in April. Viewers have often been attracted not only to its nerve-wracking action and raunchy scenes but also to its fantasy setting in mystical lands. In fact, if you’re a fan you’ve probably longed to visit or even stay in these places if they exist at all. Well, the good news is that most of these places are real and ready to welcome you any time. So join the trend a take a trip to any of these unique Game of Thrones filming locations.

1. King’s Landing - Dubrovnik

The famed King’s Landing is actually real! It was filmed in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Besides the amazing structures, the place is rich in history and culture. Walking in Dubrovnik might actually seem like a deja vu for the die-hard GOT fans. It really is as it appears in the programmes, with its massive stone wall that fortifies the city, narrow streets, and stunning ancient architecture. When filming the series, so little was done in terms of after-effects or special editing as the place already oozed everything the producers envisaged.

Whilst still in Dubrovnik, you must visit the Old City. Take a walk along the street of St. Dominika and go round the walls of The Bokat fortress all the way to the Minceta Tower. It takes just a few hours and delivers a breath-taking view of the Dalmatian coast. As you stand on the city walls, the magical sight of the Lovrijenic Fortress standing tall from an outcropping rock hits you. The scene seems all too familiar from numerous episodes of GOT as the Red Keep. Also, make sure you pass by the iconic Church of St. Ignatius. You might actually recognize the Jesuit stairs to the church as it is where Cersei made her infamous walk of shame/atonement in season five.

The trip, however, doesn’t end there. The coastal town of Split, where the city of Meereen was cast, awaits you. The most attractive scenery here are the old Roman ruins and the infamous Diocletian’s Palace. Whilst the top part of the fortress lies in ruins, the underground bunkers are still in good shape. In the series, these bunkers were home to Deanery’s fledgling dragons which went rogue.

2. The Land beyond the Wall - Iceland

After seeing what roamed the land beyond the wall, the white walkers, you might be less enthusiastic about visiting Iceland…However, we doubt that’s the case. The site of the original filming of this area has a breath-taking beauty despite its icy landscape. A particular site of interest is the glacier of Snæfellsjökull, which lies above an active volcanic hill peaking at 1446m. It is perfect for hiking, sightseeing, and cross-country skiing. These experiences will remain etched in your mind forever…Together with Svínafellsjökull, the glaciers were used to represent the Fist of the First Men in GOT. Visiting them will be like a walk down the memory lane. 

The frozen lava field or the Myvatn Lake is also popular as the wildling army camp in season three. Make sure you visit the Grjotagja Cave and hot spring that’s an acclaimed tourist site and a great bathing spot. This site provides a romantic setting with its warm sparkling waters and sauna-like steam. Perhaps that inspired its choosing as the perfect site to film the sensual scene of Jon Snow and the wildling, Ygritte. This location certainly belongs in your bucket list as you plan your visit to Iceland on a GOT-inspired tour.

3. Northern Ireland

This is the home of the filming of Game of Thrones. Amongst the most intriguing attraction sites is the Dark Hedges, which appears on multiple occasions throughout the series as the Kingsroad. It consists of a long avenue with beech trees on either side forming a canopy. The road leads to the Gracehill House entrance. A good sighting of this road in GOT is when young Arya Stark escapes Kings Landing on the back of a cart together with Yoren, Gendry, and Hot Pie in season two. You wouldn’t want to forego a trip down this famous road, so get packing. 

Another scenery worth checking out is that of the Downhill Beach.  It consists of a seven-mile stretch of fine sand with the stunning backdrop of the famous Mussenden Temple perched on top of a lush green cliff.  This site will remind you of season two of GOT where Stannis Baratheon torches the effigies of the Seven Gods of Westeros to embrace Melisandre’s Lord of Light.

Castle Ward in Northern Ireland is also an acclaimed destination for tourists.  This is partly because it features in Game of Thrones as the monumental Winterfell, where the House Stark hails.  The castle sits on the rolling slopes which overlook the Strangford Lough.  Its compound contains well-curated gardens and unique woodlands.  The entire 820-acre property is fenced with a stone wall that was hand-built in the 16th century.  Since then it has been under the custody of the Ward family.

Ballintoy Harbour located on the coast of Co Antrim is another attraction to consider.  It has jaw-dropping rock formations, coves, and steep cliffs sheering down into the ocean.  Its sheltered shores not only make a great site for fishing but are also a visual delight.  Present on this harbour also is the entrance to the Larrybane Quarry and the scary yet fun Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  This location was featured as the Lordsport Harbour run by the Greyjoys in GOT.  It is where Theo Greyjoy is received when he goes back home in season two. 

4. Spain

Castell de Santa Florentina, featured in GOT as Horn Hill and home to Samwell Tarly, is a true depiction of architecture at its best.  It was built in the 11th century by a famed architect, Guadimir de Canet.  It was later expanded and fortified with towers by Ferrer de Carnet.  The site has since traded hands and is currently owned by a modernist architect, Lluís Domènech I Montaner.  The castle features foundations like those used in the ancient Roman Domus (houses for the wealthy freedmen). Despite undergoing renovation and expansion to incorporate modern architecture, the castle still remains authentically Roman.  You can find this landmark castle between Barcelona and Girona.  It is a half-hour drive from either of the two cities. 

The Tower of Joy is yet another amazing site in Spain where the much-loved GOT has been filmed.  In real life, it is the Castle of Zafra that sits atop outcropping rocks as high as 1400metres.  It is located in the Guadalajara province.  You might recognize this tower from Bran Stark’s visions in season three where young Eddard Stark locked swords with the Kingsguard, Seth Arthur and other Targaryen folk. All that awaits you in your GOT tour to Spain.

These sites are just fantastic whether you are an ardent Game of Thrones fan or not.  They all offer varied experiences ranging from unique natural scenes to ancient architecture to globally recognized historical sites.  A trip to any of them will appeal to your GOT zeal as well as satisfy your adventurous spirit.



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