A few weeks ago, Game of Thrones finished primary shooting for season two. If you’re not familiar with the show, you should probably look into watching it immediately. It’s one of the most refreshing novel adaptations in recent memory, possibly ever. Yes, really. Based on the novels in the George R.R. Martin series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” Game of Thrones is the television adaptation that airs on HBO. The first season, which aired last spring, was well received by pretty much everyone who remotely enjoys a good fantasy adventure story, as indicated by its 9.4/10 rating on IMDB and a 9/10 user score on Metacritic. The size of the story is truly epic, which is why it works so well as a 10 hour series instead of just one movie. There are 5 books already written, with at least two more on the way. Season two is based on the second book, Clash of Kings. Martin himself is involved in the filming process and has stated how pleased he has been with the way the show has come out so far. In a recent interview, he stated that he directed an episode in season two that is basically an entire hour of a medieval city under siege.
One of the great things about the show is its attention to detail. Not only are the costumes and sets genuine and well made, The landscape and old castles are mostly filmed on location. Thanks to the amazing map, you can now see where things were filmed for both seasons, and if they plan on filming there again. Is it too early to plan a vacation to Northern Ireland to re-create your favorite moments? That’s up to you. Here are the top 6 locations to visit that were used in the filming this brilliant series. Click images below for larger versions.
If you want to go north of The Wall, here is your chance. While we don’t yet know how exactly this will play out, the show was filmed in three separate Icelandic locations. Iceland was a good choice, as there are still active glaciers that should make a perfect back drop for events beyond The Wall. If you want to know what those events may be you have three options: read Clash of Kings, wait for the April, or look online. Do yourself a favor and read the books. If for some reason, you just want to have everything spoiled, well, that’s your decision. You can find a fairly comprehensive plot outline on Wikipedia, however for some mind blowing theory and connection, visit the discussion boards on westeros.org.
Castle Ward, Northern Ireland
Most of the shooting for Game of Thrones was done in Northern Ireland, and it sets a fantastic backdrop for the series. Don’t miss out on Castle Ward, located just south of Belfast. The exterior of the castle was converted to Winterfell’s courtyard. This is the first scene in the show- not including the prologue. It is in the courtyard where viewers are introduced to all the Starks, the Lanisters, and the King Robert Baretheon. Today the castle is open to the public and is home to landscaped gardens, a theater, restaurant, gift shop, as well as a working corn mill.
Doune Castle, Scotland
One of the most important locations to see may be Doune Castle. Located in Doune, Scotland, this was the location that served as Winterfell during the pilot episode of the first season. Unfortunately there are no plans to return there, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great destination. Roughly an hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow, Doune has been on screen before. You may recognize it as one of the castles featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail! As if that wasn’t an impressive enough resume, it’s also around 600 years old and naturally brimming with all kinds of interesting history.
Malta was the location used for Kings Landing in season one, however there were complications after a subcontractor damaged protected land in a conservation area. Because of this, the location has been replaced by places around Dubrovnik, Croatia. This means that with a vacation to Dubrovnik, Croatia, you may find yourself wandering around the streets of the “new” Kings Landing. It’s hard to say right now which locations will be used a lot in the series, but if you look at the city, it’s easy to picture it as the fictional capitol. The outer walls look as if they were built for the show. At least one scene was filmed on St. Dominic Street and the Fort of St. Lawrence.
Lokrum Island, Croatia
Technically part of Dubrovnik, you can also head over to Lokrum Island and visit the former monastery. This location was used for scenes that take place in Qarth. Keep your eyes open for families of peacocks that inhabit the island. Whatever you do, don’t try to purchase any land there. Legend says that the island was cursed by the monks, after a French general ordered the monastery closed, and all inhabitants expelled. The heads of three households were chosen to convey the message. The monks were aghast at this order, so they began walking around the perimeter of the island, leaving a trail of melted wax. As they did this, they chanted the curse: “Whosoever claims Lokrum for his own personal pleasure shall be damned.” They weren’t kidding. Soon the people who had given them the message had died. for the next 8 centuries, things just kept happening to anyone who tried to live on the island and claim it as their own. Long story short, visit, don’t stay forever.
County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Not only is Giant’s Causeway one of the most unique and beautiful locations on earth, this area was home to several key scenes in Game of Thrones. The Glens of Antrim and their isolated rugged landscapes were used as parts of the Dothraki Sea. While that may seem appealing on its own, a trip north gives you the chance to recreate the famous scene where Ned Stark beheads a traitor from the Nights Watch. Head over to Cairncastle to see where Eddard executes Gared, as well as where the dire wolves are first found.
Looking for the best way to get around? A car rental in Northern Ireland may be the best solution for you. In the meantime, start reading! Game of Thrones Season Two will air in April of 2012 on HBO.