Real Life Game of Thrones Locations to See in Spain

The islet of Gaztelugatxe in the Bay of Biscay, Spain, one of the country's many stunning Game of Thrones locations.
The islet of Gaztelugatxe in the Bay of Biscay, Spain, one of the country's many stunning Game of Thrones locations. | © Adwo / Alamy
Photo of Jessica Jones
7 April 2021

Follow Culture Trip’s Game of Thrones tour of locations in Spain, from Girona to Seville.

Game of Thrones is a titan of fantasy drama, with millions of people around the world watching each season, and many still discovering it. A binge-watch sensation, it’s hard to believe the programme’s otherworldly settings are real-life places – albeit with a little help from CGI in many cases. While the likes of Northern Ireland and Croatia starred in the early seasons, and filming also happened in Iceland, Malta, Morocco and Canada, Spain took centre stage from Season 5. Here’s where you can go for a glimpse of real-life Westeros.

Before you read any further, you should know this story contains spoilers.

Las Bardenas Reales

Natural Feature
Map View
Las Bardenas Reales
Las Bardenas Reales Natural Park in Navarra was the setting for the Dothraki Sea | © ALFREDO RUIZ HUERGA / Alamy Stock Photo

The lunar landscapes of the semi-desert Bardenas Reales Natural Park in Navarra were an ideal backdrop for Game of Thrones in Season 6, when they doubled as the Dothraki Sea, a vast area of the continent of Essos. The wide plains are covered in green grass, which give them the appearance of a sea – hence the name. In Game of Thrones, the area is home to the Khalasars, horse-riding warriors who travel in groups of up to several thousand.

Peniscola

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Tourists exploring Papa Luna's Castle, Peniscola, Spain
Tourists exploring Papa Luna's Castle, Peniscola, Spain | © Jason Knott / Alamy

This coastal town in the province of Castellón, eastern Spain, was used for several filming locations doubling as areas of Meereen, the largest of the Slaver Cities of Slaver’s Bay, ruled by the Great Masters, the heads of Meereen’s Slaving Families who live in great Pyramids. Several areas of the town were used during filming, including the Plaza Santa María, Peniscola Castle and the Parque de la Artillería.

Seville

Historical Landmark
Map View
Entrance to the Alcazar Palace Royal Alcazar of Seville Real Alcazar Seville Seville Spain seville Andalusia Spain EU EuropeSeville Spain EU Europe
Entrance to the Alcazar Palace of Seville, Andalusia, Spain | © eye35 / Alamy

Seville’s iconic Real Alcázar, an intricate and beautiful Moorish palace complex, doubled for Dorne Palace and gardens from Season 5 onwards. Dorne, a region of Westeros, is home to the House Martell and the infamous Sand Snakes, among the most unpopular characters in Game of Thrones history. While fans might have hated the storyline, they couldn’t help but be captivated by the setting; Seville’s Alcázar is one of Spain’s most spectacular palaces and has been a Unesco World Heritage site since 1987. The Alcázar’s Courtyard of the Maidens, with its intricate arches, was the setting for House Martell’s Water Gardens.

Osuna

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Extras take part in the filming of the fifth season of the HBO TV series "Game of Thrones'" inside a bullring in downtown Osuna, near Seville, southern Spain October 26, 2014. The Home Box Office Inc. is filming part of the fifth season of the American fa
Extras take part in the filming of the fifth season of the HBO TV series "Game of Thrones'" inside a bullring in downtown Osuna, near Seville, southern Spain. | © Jon Nazca / REUTERS / Alamy

The sleepy Andalusian town of Osuna got the Hollywood treatment when the cast and crew of Game of Thrones descended for a 14-day shoot for just a four-minute scene in Season 5. Osuna’s Plaza de Toros, or bullring, was the scene of the great pit fight of Daznak. The scene featured 550 extras, and stuntmen were set on fire in what became one of the season’s most memorable and dramatic moments, culminating in Daenerys flying off on the back of her dragon.

Roman bridge of Córdoba

Bridge
Map View
Spain, Andalucia Region, Cordoba City, Roman bridge, Cordoba Cathedral-Mosque
Cordoba's Roman bridge, Andalucia, Spain. | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy
Córdoba’s Roman bridge was originally built in the first century BCE across the Guadalquivir River, and has seen several reconstructions over the years. Most of the present-day bridge dates from the Moorish reconstruction in the eighth century CE. The bridge doubled for the Long Bridge of Volantis, where the severed hands of criminals are put on display. When it comes to Spain, Game of Thrones goes big, and Córdoba’s bridge was made considerably longer and more substantial thanks to CGI, which also added buildings and markets to reflect the built-up nature of the bridge in the drama series.

Girona Arab baths

Archaeological site, Building, Museum
Map View
Interior view of the Arab Baths (Banys Arabs), Girona, Catalonia, Spain _HG9FXD
Interior view of the Arab Baths (Banys Arabs), Girona, Catalonia, Spain | © dleiva / Alamy
The beautifully-preserved 12th century Arab baths of Girona are where things get really heated between Arya Stark and the Waif, and where their chase scene through the city culminates in a terrifying climax. The real-life baths were partly destroyed during a siege by the French in the 13th century, but were rebuilt 10 years later. They have been used as mikveh baths by Girona’s Jewish community and as part of a convent over the years, before being opened to the public in the 1930s.

Girona old town

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Steps of Sant Marti Sacosta Church, Barri Vell Old Quarter, Girona
Steps of Sant Marti Sacosta Church, Barri Vell Old Quarter, Girona | © Stephen Hughes / Alamy Stock Photo

The medieval city in the northeastern region of Catalonia makes up a large part of Game of Thrones. In Season 6, the cobbled streets of the city’s old town were transformed into the Free City of Essos, where Arya Stark was living and being hunted by the Waif. A heart-stopping chase scene takes place on the steps of the city’s Sant Marti convent and a fight breaks out between them on the city’s Bisbe Cartaña street.

Girona Cathedral

Cathedral, Museum
Map View
Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona, Catalonia, Spain, Europe
Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona, Catalonia, Spain. | © Sergio Azenha / Alamy
King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros, may have been filmed mainly in the picturesque Croatian city of Dubrovnik, but Girona Cathedral doubles as the Great Sept of Baelor, King’s Landings’s largest building, a centre of religion and the setting of some key scenes that culminate with the destruction of the Sept when Cersei Lannister burns it down with wildfire. The building collapses, killing everyone inside. Luckily, Girona Cathedral is still standing – the scene employed a good dose of CGI to depict the building’s destruction – although if you want to visit, you’ll have to tackle its 91 stone steps first.

Gaztelugatxe

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Zigzag path to the islet Gaztelugatxe near Bakio, Costa Vasca, Bay of Biscay, Basque Country, Spanien
Zigzag path to the islet of Gaztelugatxe near Bakio, Costa Vasca, Bay of Biscay, Basque Country, Spain. | © GFC Collection / Alamy

In the far north of Spain, in the lush green region of the Basque Country, lies the dramatic islet of Gaztelugatxe, which was used as the location for Daenerys Targaryen’s ancestral home of Dragonstone. The island sits in the Bay of Biscay, joined to the mainland by a winding bridge. Daenerys is seen arriving at Dragonstone in the first episode of Season 7; she arrives from the sea, lands on the beach, and walks the winding path towards the imposing castle. Unfortunately, the real Gaztelugatxe is not home to a castle – that was added later – but you can visit the island’s 10th-century hermitage, dedicated to John the Baptist.

Castell de Santa Florentina, Barcelona

Architectural Landmark
Map View
CATALUNA. CANET DE MAR. Vista del CASTILLO DE SANTA FLORENTINA, gran monumento neomedieval perteneciente a los condes de la Vall de Canet. Su aspecto actual es el resultado de los trabajos de ampliacion efectuados a principios de siglo sobre una antigua c
Castell de Santa Florentina, Barcelona, Spain. | © Album / Alamy

This 11th-century Medieval castle in Canet de Mar, near Barcelona, doubled for House Tarly’s home castle in Season 6. Although the castle is private property, it can be visited by appointment. But even if you don’t go inside, the exterior is well worth a look – it’s one of the most striking of Game of Thrones‘ Spain locations.

Almería

Natural Feature
Map View
Tabernas desert, Almeria
Tabernas desert, Almeria | © Rudolf Ernst / Alamy Stock Photo

The wide, dry expanses of Almería in southeast Spain have long been a favourite of filmmakers. The Tabernas desert doubled for the Wild West in Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and the area was used during Season 6 of Game of Thrones to depict parts of Dothraki Sea. Vaes Dothrak, Dothraki’s capital, was filmed in Pechina, while part of Meereen was filmed in the Torre de Mesa Roldán, in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park.

Castillo de Zafra

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain. Seen in Game of Thrones as the birthplace of Jon Snow
Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain. Seen in Game of Thrones as the birthplace of Jon Snow. | © Jasper Stenger / Alamy

The 12th-century Castle of Zafra in Guadalajara is a stunning fortress that sits on a sandstone outcrop, a perfect location for the fantasy setting of Game of Thrones. It doubled for the Tower of Joy – a tower located on the northern edge of the Red Mountains of Dorne – in three episodes of Season 6.

These recommendations were updated on April 7, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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