You have to love Game Of Thrones. You know, that show that everyone has been fawning over?! OK, OK. So I know it’s mythical and not necessarily historical, but whatever! Written by a dude who is, to be utterly brutal, absolutely bonkers; the ‘ eye-gouge-ingly’ intense (pardon the pun) series has taken the world by absolute storm.
In order to film Westeros and Essos, the producers of the show had to find some incredible, breathtaking locations to shoot. And that’s where the real history bit comes in…
Dubrovnik: Kings Landing
Dubrovnik features in multiple episodes of the series as the home of self-important Cersei Lannister and her wretched, devilish spawn, Joffrey.
It is said that Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th Century, on a rocky island names Laus. Apparently, the original city was said to have provided shelter for refugees from the nearby city of Epidarum. However, recent archaeological surveys suggest that the city was already well-founded by that time.
The old walled-town is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Doune Castle: Winterfell
Used to portray the wintry home of the poor old Stark family, Doune makes for an excellent Winterfell.
The structure is a medieval stronghold in Doune, in the Stirling district of Scotland. Recent research has shown that the castle was originally built in the 13th Century, then most likely damaged in the Scottish Wars of Independence. It was rebuilt in its present form in the late 14th Century by Robert Stewart, the son of King Robert II of Scotland.
Although most famous as a heritage site, Doune has graced many a screen as part of the set for Ivanhoe and Monty Python & The Holy Grail, and has featured in numerous ballads and even Walter Scott’s first novel, ‘Waverley’.
Fort Manoel: Sept of Baelor
The Great Sept of Baelor, located in Kings Landing, is the centre of religious worship for the guys loving life in Westeros. Unfortunately, it’s where Ned Stark lost his head and where poor Margaery Tyrell wed the little worm, Joffers.
A fortification on the isle of Malta, Fort Manoel was chosen for the Great Sept. The fort was built by the Knights of Malta, between 1723 and 1755, under the patronage of Portuguese Grand Master, Manoel de Vilhena.
The fort was an active military establishment initially under the Knights and later under British Military control. During the Second World War, a battery of 3.7-inch heavy anti-aircraft guns was deployed in and around the fort. The fort suffered considerable damage to its ramparts, barracks and chapel as a result of aerial bombing during the war, and underwent extensive restoration works in 2010.
Shane’s Castle: Tourney Scenes
R-Barath, as we called him, loved a tourney. To be honest, they are just a great excuse for a good old knees up. We all know that a tourney never ends well, especially when Ser Gregor Clegane is lurking around.
Shane’s Castle, the setting for a number of the tourney scenes, is a ruined castle near Randalstown, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Built in 1345 by a member of the O’Neill dynasty it was originally called Eden-duff-carrick.
Trsteno Arboretum: Gardens of Kings Landing
Margaery Tyrell loves a good stroll around the gardens of Kings Landing, and Olenna Tyrell is rarely seen elsewhere. Even poor Sansa Stark has had a couple of alright afternoons here, eating lemon cakes…erm, yum.
For the gardens of Kings Landing, an extra special place was required. And so, the Trsteno Arboretum was chosen for the job. Located in Croatia, it is the oldest arboretum in this part of the world. The site was erected by the local noble family, Gozze, in the late 15th century, who requested ship captains bring back seeds and plants from their travels.
Trsteno suffered extensive damage and looting during the Croatian War of Independence, where it was subject to gunboat and air attacks, and a huge fire. The arboretum was further severely damaged in 2000 by a forest fire during a drought.
The pride of the arboretum, two Oriental Planes, are located on the central market place of Trsteno. They are over 500 years old and are unique specimens of its kind in Europe.
Ballintoy Harbour: Port of Pyke, Iron Islands
Ahhh, the Port of Pyke, where Theon Greyjoy unwittingly touched up his sister and is left feeling a little flat. Poor Theon…
Ballintoy is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of North Antrim between the Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and looks out to Scotland. The castle and the old church that stood on the site of the present day church was lay siege to during the 1641 rebellion, when local Presbyterians took refuge inside.
Ballintoy is still a working harbour for local fishermen who continue a tradition that goes back to when man first arrived in the bay.