13 Amazing Castles from Game of Thrones You Can Visit in Real Life
The medieval fantasy epic may have aired its final episode, but you can re-live the show and all its best scenes at these filming locations. Caution: spoilers ahead.
Castle of Zafra, Spain
Castle of Zafra is the epic setting of The Tower of Joy in Game of Thrones. During the third episode of season six, a young Ned Stark and his bannermen fight Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Gerold Hightower as seen in flashback via Bran Stark’s visions. In real life, Castle of Zafra is a 12th-century castle in Guadalajara near the little village of Campillo de Dueñas. Interestingly, it’s also an excavation site where remains from the Celtiberians, Romans, and the Visigoths have been unearthed.
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Doune Castle, Scotland
Blink and you may have missed Doune Castle—it stood in for a section of Winterfell, the Stark’s ancestral home, in the pilot episode. (It served as the tower where Jamie Lannister pushes Bran out the window, famously saying, “The things we do for love.”) The 14th-century medieval castle was built as the home of Regent Albany, known as “Scotland’s uncrowned king.” Would-be visitors are cautioned that it’s not an easy property to visit. “The castle courtyard and cellar, including display, is accessible via a steep, cobbled (but partially timbered) tunnel,” according to VisitScotland. “Assisted access is possible for the determined, but is difficult.”
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Castle Ward, Northern Ireland
One of the first locations of the Game of Thrones series, Castle Ward also played the part of Winterfell in the pilot and throughout most of the first season. Sign up for one of Winterfell Tours to experience the 18th-century mansion, including dressing up as your favourite character and stepping into a replica of the Winterfell Archery Range.
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Castillo de Trujillo, Spain
Despite Casterly Rock playing a minor part throughout the series, the castle wasn’t actually seen on screen until the seventh season of Game of Thrones, when Daenerys Targaryen’s Unsullied army invades the famed Lannister home. The real-life location is Trujillo Castle. Built over the remains of an old Muslim citadel, the medieval Moorish stone defense fortress is located at the highest point in the town of Cáreres. It features eight towers and a horseshoe arch.
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Lovrijenac Fortress, Croatia
Also known as Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar, this fortress and theatre in Dubrovnik, Croatia doubles as the Red Keep in King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in Game of Thrones. It makes many appearances throughout the run of the HBO show, including serving as the setting for King Joffrey’s name day and in season eight as Cersei Lannister prepares to defend the city and during the subsequent battle. The fortress overshadows the two entrances to the city, accessed from the sea and by land. It’s most notable for resisting Venetian rule in the 11th century.
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Castell de Santa Florentina, Spain
Located just outside Barcelona, Spain, Castell de Santa Florentina serves as Horn Hill, the ancestral home of Samwell Tarly. It appears in season six when Sam brings Gilly home to meet his family, then later runs away with the Valyrian steel sword, Oathkeeper, to the Citadel. Built on the foundations of an ancient Roman Domus (the type of old Roman house occupied by the upper classes), in the 11th century, it served as “fortification in order to defend from frequent pirates’ attacks. Remains of this building are still a part of St. Florentina’s Castle,” according to the castle’s website. You can tour the castle, or even rent it out!
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Castillo Almodóvar, Spain
Castillo Almodóvar, located in the province of Córdoba, served as the setting of House Tyrell, Highgarden. The castle didn’t actually have its debut until the seventh season, however, when Jaime Lannister invaded the Tyrells’ home. In real life, the Roman fortress dates back to the eighth century. Today, the castle hosts all sorts of activities and tours, including an interactive Game of Thrones tour.
Alcázar of Seville, Spain
This royal palace in Seville, Spain dates back to 913, but its current iteration was built for King Peter of Castile on the site of a former Abbadid Muslim residential fortress in the 14th century. Registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it showed up in the fifth season of Game of Thrones, where producers filmed the scenes for the Water Gardens of Dorne. “Once we realized we were allowed to shoot in the gardens, we realized that there’s nowhere on earth that looks more like the water gardens as we pictured than this place,” producer DB Weiss said, according to Business Insider.
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Peñíscola Castle, Spain
In season six, the stunning walled town of Peñíscola served as the setting for Meereen and the Bay of Dragons. The fortified seaport is situated on a rocky headland on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. The town is known for its beaches like Pebret and Norte, and its historic old town. The 13th century Peñíscola Castle, built by the Knights Templar, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the coast and Artillery Park.
Shane’s Castle, Northern Ireland
The dungeon inside Shane’s Castle was used by a radicalized High Sparrow, who forced prisoners into confessions; it’s also where Cersei nearly met her match. Originally built in 1345, today Shane’s Castle is a crumbling structure on the northeastern shores of Lough Neagh in Northern Island.
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Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
The ancient walled city of Ait Benhaddou dates back to the 1700s and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. A gorgeous example of Moroccan architecture, it contains a group of fortified houses, small sandy castles, a mosque, and stables. In Game of Thrones, it stands in for the city of Yunkai.
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Gosford Castle, Northern Ireland
The setting of Riverrun, Catelyn Stark’s childhood home, Gosford Castle, built in the mid-1800s, made news when it came up for sale for $656,452 earlier this year. “In 2006, the castle underwent extensive renovations, which not only brought the building up to current code, but also turned the space into 23 luxury residences. Now, six of those apartments are up for sale,” according to People. The castle recently sold for an undisclosed price.
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Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland
Referred to as the Castle of Pyke, the home of the Greyjoys on the Iron Islands was a threatening sight. In real life, however, Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval castle that, much like on the show, can only be accessed by bridge. Visitors can explore the castle’s remains, including the findings of archaeological digs situated among the cobbled streets, as well as the stone merchants’ homes from the abandoned Dunluce Town. Just don’t expect it to look exactly as it did on the show, much like those dragons, the on-screen castle is a result of modern technology; it was digitally reconstructed for the small screen.
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