This article first appeared on Skyscanner’s 9 beautiful Game of Thrones landscapes you need to visit.
Winter is back, baby! Game of Thrones, your favourite award-winning fantasy TV show of all time, is coming back to HBO on 24 April 2016 for its 6th series. And one thing we can't get enough of is its gorgeous scenery.
From the far west of Europe to the east, Skyscanner is pleased to introduce you to 9 picture perfect locations from Spain to Northern Ireland to Croatia (plus a few bonus locations), specially chosen to represent George RR Martin's world of Westeros. We'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum!
1. Bardenas Reales, Navarre - Dothraki Sea
The rugged landscapes of Bardenas Reales will showcase Daenerys' martial skills in Season 6.
This gorgeously sere sea of aridity, roughly halfway between Zaragoza and Pamplona, is making its debut in the series, probably serving as background for Daenerys Targaryen as she encounters a hostile khalassar and sets her dragons upon him.
This picturesque badlands is filled with odd and dramatic geological formations such as towering spires and flat-topped mesas, and fills visitors with awe and wonder. It's well worth a visit if you're passing through the region with your bloodriders!
2. Girona - Oldtown, Braavos or Kings Landing
The Catalonian city of Girona is a very versatile actor accessible from Barcelona.
Several key locations in the series are now being filmed in the old quarters of this medieval city in the northern reaches of Catalonia, a little over 100 km north of Barcelona. Our best guess is that this location is being used to represent places such as Oldtown, Braavos or King's Landing, but at this point, no one really knows what's going to happen... although whatever does happen will no doubt be pretty bloody!
This quaint little ciudad has many amazing remnants of its distant past, such as a cathedral, a Jewish quarter and intact Arab baths, and makes a wonderful day-trip from Barcelona.
3. Peniscola - Meereen
Peniscola is a dream getaway with amazing beaches and a spectacular castle.
Valencia's Peniscola, halfway down the coast of Spain between Valencia and Barcelona on the shores of the idyllic Balearic Sea, is home to a stunning castle that's serving as Meereen (we think!) in Season 6 of the show.
The city itself is a fantastic getaway; while you're there, you'll enjoy whiling away the hours strolling on the promenade, enjoying the food and drink, splashing in the waves, or just enjoying a siesta.
4. Pechina, Alhamila Mountains - Dothraki Sea or Vaes Dothrak
The ancient town of Pechina will play the role of something Dothraki in Season 6.
The Andalusian town of Pechina, nestled in the towering Alhamila Mountains, has been inhabited since the days of the Romans, but we're taking it even further back with Game of Thrones, where it will probably be something Dothraki-related. East of Malaga, it sits very near the shores of the Mediterranean, and if you're passing through on your way to Malaga, you'll have a chance to soak up some history, natural splendour, and local quaintness.
5. The Alcazaba of Almeria - Dorne
The Alcazaba of Almeria is an impenetrable fortress in southern Spain.
This ancient fortress in Almeria on the Mediterranean coast of Spain east of Malaga, and the rich golden tones of the landscape surrounding it, was constructed over a thousand years ago, and as a reward for its longevity, will play a role in series 6 of the show, probably standing in for Dorne. While we have no idea what may happen (we are after all in uncharted territory here, folks), we know it will look stunning.
This is not its first appearance on screen; it has served in Conan the Barbarian, Indiana Jones and James Bond films as well. After you've finished exploring, hit the beach, and soak up the warm Mediterranean rays!
6. Santa Florentina Castle - Horne Hill
Santa Florentina Castle is a dramatic and romantic Catalan landmark.
Photo: © Castell de Santa Florentina
This ancient structure, dating back to the 11th century, will provide the setting for... something in Season 6, but what exactly that is has yet to be revealed. Rumour has it that it will be Horne Hill. Whatever it is, it is sure to be bloody, no doubt. The actual castle is privately owned, and houses a museum that can be visited, without laying siege to. Northeast from Barcelona, along the coast, this 11th century structure has been home to human activity since as early as the Roman times.
Bonus places in Spain as seen in Game of Thrones Season 5!
A. Alcázar de Sevilla - Water Palaces of Dorne
The Kingdom of Dorne in GoT's Season 5 was filmed in the Alcázar de Sevilla. This 700-year-old former royal palace, which serves as the Water Gardens of Dorne, is where the brother of Prince Oberyn Martell spends most of his time (possibly plotting his brother's revenge).
In Spain, the site has survived many wars and eras, with one of the palace's most famous and beautiful features being the ancient baths under the Patio del Crucero. These well-conserved baths (that are rainwater tanks) are known as Los Banos de Dona Maria de Padilla, translated as the Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla.
B. Plaza de toros de Osuna - Arena of Meereen
Serving a major scene in George RR Martin's A Dance with Dragons, the Plaza de toros de Osuna (or Osuna Bullring) represented the Arena of Meereen in Game of Thrones. This bullfighting ring located in Seville is over 100 years old!
If you're visiting Osuna (and a die-hard fan), drop by Casa Curro, the first restaurant in town to offer a themed menu devoted to the GoT series. Whipping up special tapas inspired by key characters of the show (including even the late King Joffrey), this is a stop not to be missed.
C. Puente Romano de Córdoba - Long Bridge of Volantis
Joining the two halves of Volantis across the mouth of the Rhoyne, the Long Bridge of Volantis was represented by Puente Romano de Córdoba (the Roman bridge of Cordoba). This Roman bridge is believed to be built by the Romans in the early 1st century BC, spans 247 metres, and has been repaired extensively over the years with its latest restoration in 2006.
7. Moreton Corbet Castle - Riverrun
Moreton Corbet Castle stars as Riverrun in Season 6.
The immense 75-hectare disused limestone quarry is the film set of Castle Black and also Hardhome (a ruined free folk settlement that lies north beyond the Wall) in Season 5 of the popular TV series.
8. Split - King's Landing
Split is one of the most versatile locations of "Game of Thrones" in Croatia.
Featured as King's Landing and visited by Cersei Lannister in previous seasons, the Diocletian's Palace in the city of Split is also a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in reality. The palace was initially built by the late Roman emperor Diocletian in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD.
9. Krka National Park - Westeros
The beauty of Westeros is captured in the stunning waterfalls and more of this national park.
A wide variety of flora and fauna alongside the 73 kilometre long Krka River define the idyllic landscape of the Krka National Park, which have been used several times to depict the landscapes of Westeros. Within the park is one of the world's most beautiful waterfalls too: seven stunning waterfalls, Skradinski Buk!
Bonus places in Croatia as seen in Game of Thrones Season 5!
A. Walls of Ston - King's Landing
The famous 3.5 mile-long Walls of Ston in Croatia have been featured as the defence surrounding the iconic King's Landing. This charming Dalmatian town also features some of the rarest oysters in the region, so all seafood aficionados are set to thoroughly enjoy this visit!
B. Šibenik - Braavos
In Season 5 of the series, Šibenik, a historic town of Croatia, is set as Braavos, one of the Free Cities across the narrow sea. Braavos is also home to the famous Iron Bank that's often mentioned in past seasons. With a population of under 50,000 (200 Croatian census), Sibenik is definitely one to fall in love with (in the show and in reality).
C. Klis Fortress - Meereen
Located near the city of Split, the Fortress of Klis is a medieval fortress that's over 2,000 years old. Located on a mountain pass between Mosor and Kozjak mountains, the Klis Fortress has been used as a strategic defence spot in the late Ottoman advance. In Game of Thrones, this is also one of the places where Daenerys plans her return to power. Although not featured frequently in the series, Klis Fortress will be well-worth a visit, especially for the panoramic views it provides.
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- Adapted from an article originally written by Patricia Cuni for Skyscanner.