The epic sixth season of Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 24th and our staff have already cleared our schedules and TVO schedules in anticipation. Our “water cooler talks” are frequently filled with debates of who should sit on the Iron Throne, what will become of Jon Snow, and, of course, what’s Hodor up to? But as much as we love the characters and their respective cast members, the enchanting lands of Westeros and Essos are always our foremost favorite characters. So as we keep our eyes out for the next hot destination, we try to keep keenly aware of how these lovely sights and attractions have inspired our favorite shows.
To chronicle all the film sets used for the series would be a little excessive (like 5 years and counting a new book!), and Skycanner already got that covered with a list of 44 locations, so we’ll trim it down a little. Here’s a sampling of the major new filming locations for Game of Thrones season 6.
Though this colorful Spanish city seems a little too bright for Game of Thrones, the historic alleys and architecture give it the perfect medieval atmosphere. Set to host scenes from the Essos’s city of Braavos and Westeros’s Oldtown, it is rumored that the benedictine chapel of Sant Pere de Galligants will be a major sight for the new season. Though most of Braavos was originally filmed in Croatia, much of the filming has been moved to Spain for this season and it’ll be interesting to see how the cast and crew navigate the new local.
We’ve already heard that Maisie Williams has been running around the city for her scenes, so Arya’s story will definitely continue in this Spanish city. There are also reports of Nikolai Coster-Waldau outside the cathedral and rumors that a few scenes from King’s Landing will be shot here. As for it’s role in the story of Old Town, it’s pretty clear that Sam’s life of a Maester will unfold in the Sant Pere de Galligants, as it the fitting mirror for the Maester’s Citadel.
Bardenas Reales Natural Park, Spain
We’ll admit; we were pretty shocked to discover Spain holds such desert region as unique and wondrous as Bardenas Reales Natural Park – shocked and excited! Little has been revealed besides a casting call for “dark or Mediterranean coloring, and men may need to let their facial hair grow out.” Coupled with the arid landscape seen here, its almost a given for the Dothraki hordes that Daneryas encountered at the end of season 5.
Spain is getting all the love this season, and the coastal city of Peniscola deserves it. The impressive medieval walls that surrounded it and historic castle make it a shoo-in for either Meereen or Dorne, or both! The crew could easily use different aspects of the city for each storyline. The outer walls are perfect to display Meereen’s coastal defenses, where’s as the tropical streets and parks fit well for Dorne.
Stepping away from Spain for a moment, let’s take a look at what Northern Ireland has got cooking.
Reports have it that the GoT crew have been apparently building a castle, and not just any castle – Rivendale, childhood home to Catelyn Tully and one of the major fortresses used by the Stark. Set near the village of Corbet in the County Down, the green but dreary Irish landscape is a perfect spot for the home of House Tully – and, given that they’ve built a castle there, we can expect to see some impressive battles here. The Stark loyalists may not be as subdued as the Lannisters thought.
And it looks like we can expect some more battles in the North, including a major one for the future of Winterfell. Book fans (like myself) have been anticipating major events around the Stark home for quite a while and can expect to see something epic on the fields of Saintfield. I’m being a little vague intentionally, as all my sources have provided multiple spoiler warnings, so I’ll let you read into the events in Saintfield at your own risk.
Zafra Castle, Spain
Now, we couldn’t neglect Spain for long, given that it is a highlight of this season and a treasure trove of medieval goodies. One of them is Zafra Castle – or, in the GoT Universe, the infamous Tower of Joy. Book fans will recall it as the sight of a major battle between Ned Stark and Arthur Dayne, who is considered possibly the greatest swordsman in all of Westeros, and maybe even the world. What was this battle over, you might ask? Why, the life of Lyanna Stark, who tragically died there at the end of Robert’s Rebellion. We’ve only seen hints of this Tower in the books, and its expected that the Tower will be seen in a flashback, finally revealing the truth of what caused Lyanna’s death.
Beyond these fantastic sites, there are plenty of amazing locals that the Game of Thrones crew have captured for a handful of days, but we’ll leave you with a sample to avoid spoiling too much. We hope we’ve sated your GoT taste buds while we wind our way down to the premiere.
If you want to see more of past Game of Thrones filming locations, check out this amazing map on Discover Northern Ireland, which has some great background information and in-depth details about the scenes filmed at each spot.