East to Westeros: the real Game of Thrones

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Text by David Shor

Photos edited by Ye Charlotte Ming

Dun dun, duduh dun dun, duduh dun dun, duduh dun dun. While that might seem like gibberish to some, if you started hearing violins in your head, you probably know the next season of Game of Thrones is just around the corner. With that kind of anticipation brewing inside, these beautiful sceneries are sure to give you a taste of Westeros right here on earth.

Spain

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This mountain gives you a peek at what’s coming up in the newest season, coming out on July 16, and this colorful sunset from Castildetierra, Bardenas, Spain probably looks a little familiar.

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Alcazaba of Almería is a fortified complex in Almería, southern Spain. The word alcazaba, from the Arabic word al-qasbah, signifies a walled fortification in a city. This building gets sunlight year round, so winter may not be coming here anytime soon.

Morocco

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The “closest to Hell” Quentyn Martell ever hopes to be turns out to be quite beautiful in real life. Visitors are drawn to Essaouira, Morocco to splash in the ocean and to enjoy the historic red-walled buildings found throughout the city. The worn state of the walls serve as a perfect visual basis for the multiple civil wars and transitions of power in Game of Thrones’ Astapor, or the Red City.

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Another fortified city, Aït-Ben-Haddou in Morocco, played host to multiple cities along Daenerys’ path through Slavers Bay. It has also been featured in a variety of films including The Mummy and Gladiator.

iceland

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Though the beasts and white walkers north of the wall may make you shudder, this real life setting certainly should not. While it may be a good idea to avoid the middle of Iceland’s harsh winters, other times of year will provide serene sights like this one in the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

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The water in Grjótagjá cave in Northern Iceland comes from a natural hot spring, which may help explain what got Jon and Ygritte’s blood pumping during that little dip. He knows SOME things, Ygritte.

Northern ireland

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When Melisandre and ‘the one true King’ Stannis Baratheon join forces to take down the old gods, you may have been distracted by the beautiful beachside setting they were in. The Mussenden Temple in Northern Ireland has become quite a tourist attraction after its showcase in earlier seasons of GoT.

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Join the Ironborn! With the unpleasant weather constantly battering Ballintoy, a stormy village in Northern Ireland, it is no wonder why this location was chosen as the home of House Greyjoy. Seriously, the place is quite pretty if you can get over the bad juju - let’s hope things get a bit brighter for a family plagued by just about the worst anyone can imagine.

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With the veiled sunlight and long shadows of these dark hedges in Northern Ireland, Arya was able to sneak out from King’s Landing disguised as a boy. Go visit and let the lighting become your escape!

croatia

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King’s Landing has become quite a familiar sight for Westeros-obsessed viewers. Though the dealings are sinister on the show, the actual walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia offers beautiful views and experiences for residents and travelers - completely free of backstabbing from the Lannister family.

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Go ahead and walk through the stone streets of Dubrovnik, though you probably won’t have an opportunity to view the powers of the Lord of Light or join the Sparrows in their questionably righteous pursuits.

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The Krka National Park in southern Croatia, with its waterfalls and beautiful picturesque water, has actually been featured in scenes depicting all different locations throughout the seven kingdoms. Its natural beauty is a nice distraction from the graphic and violent Game of Thrones we have become so accustomed to. After all, you don’t need to be in the magical world for it to provide an escape.

scotland

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You have to go all the way back to our first viewing of Winterfell, back when all of the Starks were all still alive and there was the promise of peace, to remember this Doune Castle, actually located in Stirlingshire, Scotland. It might not necessarily be the best vacation spot if winter is coming, but for other times in the year, it actually is quite nice!

Watch: Bringing Game of Thrones to Life

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