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Westeros come to life, without the dragons
What do Game of Thrones fans love more than violent dynastic struggles? Answer: beautiful locations. Thankfully, Spain is a treasure trove of both. The country’s Roman, Arabic, and European histories are as intricate and twisting as those of Westeros and Essos, with an equally healthy dose of vivid characters—James I of Aragon is a spitting image of Joffrey. Dive into the elegant Moorish influences of Seville, the fierce Basque identity of Bilbao, and the lively Catalonian nightlife of Barcelona—all via Dorne, Braavos, and Mereen.
Game of Thrones in Spain
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Known to the Romans as Hispalis and to the Moors as Ishbiliyya, Seville is a city defined by its Arabic architecture. You’ll recognize the water gardens of the Alcazar Palace as the home of the Martells, before heading through the boulevards from the enormous cathedral to the old Tobacco Factory, the setting for Bizet’s Carmen. The entire city is lined with Seville Orange trees, giving every street a scent of Dornish luxury.
Italica’s Roman amphitheater was built by the emperor Hadrian in order to glorify the city of his birth, thus making it the perfect place to film the ruined dragon pits of King’s Landing. Wander the vaults, layered with mosaics dedicated to Neptune and Mars, where men once waited for their deaths. It’s not hard to feel like a Roman emperor—or queen of Westeros—as you look over this majestic ruin.
Osuna is a quintessentially sleepy Spanish town just outside Seville. Head over to the bullring, better known as the fighting pits of Mereen where the Sons of the Harpy attacked Danaerys, but don’t worry, there’s no dragons flying over the town today. Finish a day with a Jerez sherry, a drink so good that Sir Francis Drake once ransacked Cadiz in order to steal 3,000 barrels of the stuff.
Travel north to Barcelona, one of Europe’s most beloved cities. Don’t miss the Sagrada Familia, an enormous basilica that marries the art nouveau, neo-gothic, and downright strange styles. Stroll through Park Güell, Gaudi’s ground-level compliment to the soaring design of his Sagrada Familia. End an evening on La Rambla, where the locals make the most of the long evenings with Tapas and crisp glasses of Catalonian cava. Wafer-thin slices of Jamon Iberico and sparkling wine anyone?
Head inland to Girona, a beautiful city with a history involving Charlemagne, the Moors, and a king called Wilfred the Hairy. Girona’s covered bridges, grey towers, and winding streets were the natural choice for depicting Braavos, although our travel experts hope you won’t run into a guild of assassins on your trip. Follow the High Sparrow’s footsteps as you meander around the cathedral’s cloisters, where the Great Sept of Baelor was filmed.
Bilbao is the largest city in the green hills of the Basque region, just south of the Pyrenees. Head down to the Bilbao Guggenheim, designed by Frank Gehry. Don’t miss Jeff Koons’ The Puppy, an enormous sculpture adorned with flowers. Spend an evening indulging in Pintxos, the Basque equivalent of Tapas. These bites are typically served on top of small pieces of bread, served with local Rioja wine.
Head north through the Basque country to the islet of Gaztelugatxe, where Jon Snow first saw Dragonstone. Unfortunately, the castle itself was depicted with CGI, however, a 10th-century hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist sits atop the island, accessible by the long stone staircase that you see in the show. Look out to sea and ask your Maester to chronicle your adventures so that the memories will last a lifetime.
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