by Darren Bachan
Just after the new year in 2011 I started binge watching Spartacus. Blood, sand, swords - I instantly fell in love with the show and craved more. As per usual, I proceeded to check out the message boards on IMDb, as I do with most shows I like. "if you thought Spartacus’ finale for season 1 was crazy, wait until Game of Thrones" I read, and since then my interest was peaked. I had no idea what Game of Thrones was, but what better place than IMDb to learn about it. I was instantly sold when I saw Sean Bean caste as the lead character - this was before I knew how George R. R. Martin deals with characters we love. Who doesn’t like Sean Bean?
Fast-forward to the present where Game of Thrones is now my number one favourite show of all time. One of the things that stood out to me were the locations where they film the different story lines. That coupled with my passion for travel left me with a short list of where I’d like to visit this summer. With only a few days to plan, Spain was where I wanted to go. Spain is the first country I’m visiting on my Game of Thrones tour; by the old gods and the new, it won't be my last so stay tuned.
Now, I had only a few days to plan this stuff so I researched to an obscene amount trying to learn about where they filmed and how I’d get around to each city and shooting location. I learned that the locations filmed were located in the southern Spain region, this region is called Andalusia and the cities that were used for filming season 5 are Seville, Córdoba, and Osuna.
Dorne, Game of Thrones
Dorne, Game of Thrones
In Season 5, we finally get to visit Dorne. The Kingdom of Dorne was mentioned in previous seasons but it was only when Prince Oberyn Martell came to King’s Landing in Season 4 that we learned more about House Martell and Dorne. Dorne, as described in the books and even admitted to by George R.R. Martin himself took inspiration from Spain. Dorne, culturally, stands out from the rest of Westeros because of traditions brought in to the Kingdom, the same goes for southern Spain and the Moorish history. You can see that influence within The Alcázar of Seville, or as we know it, The Water gardens of Dorne.
When Jaime Lannister and Bronn infiltrated the Kingdom of Dorne to rescue Myrcella Baratheon they actually infiltrated the palace known as the Alcázar of Seville, which is actually a royal palace in real life. All the scenes consisting of Prince Doran Martell, Sand Snakes, Ellaria Sand took place here. It was amazing to be in there, even if it had no relation to Game of Thrones it was an amazing place to visit for the architecture alone.
The Alcázar of Seville is a huge tourist attraction for Seville, the production crew was fortunate to have been able to work here given the amount of tourists that visit here daily. They had permission to shut down the place and have it all to themselves for filming. I expect even more tourists are going to start coming here now knowing that this is Dorne.
Northeast of Seville is a city named Córdoba. One of the main sights to see in Córdoba is the Roman bridge. When scouting filming locations they knew that this bridge would be the best to represent the Long Bridge of Volantis.
Early in Season 5 there were scenes where Varys and Tyrion were travelling to Volantis. Tyrion wanted to get out of the cart they were travelling in because he had been hidden for so long that the only face he'd seen for months was the spider's, so he stopped the cart and began walking along what is known as the Long Bridge of Volantis. The bridge was filled with shops, inns, brothels, and plenty more. It was the brothel that captured Tyrion’s eye where Jorah Mormont ended kidnapping him. Although this was the first time we saw Volantis, it was mentioned few times before, specifically in Season 2 where Robb Stark’s wife Talisa mentioned that that’s where she was from.
In real life the bridge is not as long as it is shown on TV, CGI was used to extend its length to make it look massive because the bridge in Volantis actually connects two halves of Volantis together.
Honorable mention: Córdoba is also home to an Alcázar that was a top contender for The Water Gardens of Dorne, but ultimately it went to the Alcázar in Seville.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones
Osuna is a very small town in Andalusia. The population is approximately 18,000 people. It’s one of those towns there everybody knows everybody. Tourist action is pretty low here, which was sort of refreshing, but now city is prepping themselves. The cast and crew of Daenerys Targaryen’s story filmed here for weeks. Osuna is about to see a boost in tourism based on this alone. Most of the extras used for filming were residents of Osuna.
The scenes they filmed in Osuna were Daznak’s Pit in Meereen. Hizdahr zo Loraq had recommended to Khaleesi that she re-open the fighting pits. Daenerys finally gave in and did so. The entire fight in Daznak’s Pit happened at Plaza de Toros, which is basically the bullring in Osuna.
I learned a lot about the filming that happened here at Plaza de Toros. The seating is made of stone, they were actually white prior to filming here but the production crew had permission to change it to yellow, the city officials loved it and decided to keep it that way. There were green screens set up around the bullring to add more layers to the fighting pits to make it look more grand.
I visited a local museum in Osuna and learned about their plans to open up an exhibit that sounded very similar to the one that comes to Toronto each year where you’ll be able to sit on the Iron Throne, see replica weapons manufactured by Valyrian Steel, a company licensed to create replica weapons from both the books and show, and see costumes.
The cast stayed at the Palacio Marqués de la Gomera. Inside of the hotel there’s a wall full of photos of locals and staff with the cast. Fans would wait outside eager to get a picture or autograph. The cast were very nice about it and whenever they had the chance they’d interact with the fans.
After a day of filming the cast and crew would go out to eat all over Osuna, but there was one spot that was very popular. This was Casa Curro. Inside is even more pictures of the cast with the locals plus newspaper articles. Pretty much anything that connected Osuna with Game of Thrones was on this wall. The restaurant owner went as far as creating a new menu with dishes named after characters from the show. I did what any fan would do. Eat them all. I wish there was a food equivalent to Valar Morghulis. The only thing that died that night was my diet.