Remarkable real-life castles used as filming locations for Game of Thrones

Verica Sitnik
 
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Game of Thrones is a hugely popular television fantasy drama and is perhaps one of the most widely-viewed productions in television history. The series airs on HBO, created by D. B. Weiss and David Benioff, and is an adaptation of the series of fantasy novels written by George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Although it is a fantasy series, it places less emphasis on magic and more on battles and political intrigue. The show features a vast ensemble cast of characters, complex plot lines, and elaborate costumes and sets inspired by cultures from around the world. To capture the ambiance of the fantastic world of the story, specific shooting locations were selected with both remarkable interiors and exteriors. Some of them are historical sites, such as castles and palaces. In this article, we feature four magnificent castles that served as filming locations for the series.

Shane’s Castle

A life-size replica of the Iron Throne, Game Of Thrones.  Author: Wicker Paradise. CC BY 2.0

Shane’s Castle is a ruined castle on the northeastern shores of Lough Neagh, near Randalstown in Northern Ireland. It was built in 1345 and formerly called Eden-duff-carrick. The castle was constructed by a member of the O’Neill dynasty, but in 1722 possessed by Shane MacBrien O’Neill, who changed its name to Shane’s Castle.

Shane’s Castle, County Antrim. Author: Kenneth Allen. CC BY-SA 2.0

This structure was the location for scenes in two episodes of Season 1, “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things” and “The Wolf and the Lion.” The fight between Brienne and Jaime in Season 2 is also filmed at Shane’s Castle.

Castle Ward

Castle Ward is an 18th-century National Trust property and one of the primary filming locations for Game of Thrones. The building is located near the village of Strangford in Northern Ireland and is open to the public.

Castle Ward Gothic facade, northeastern side. Author: Ardfern. CC BY-SA 3.0

The property includes 820 acres of landscaped gardens, a tower house, theatre, working corn mill, a Victorian laundry, and a restaurant. Castle Ward reflects the tastes of Lord Bangor and his wife in the aspect of its dual architecture.

Castle Ward, hallway to the front entrance. Author: Irishdeltaforce. CC BY-SA 3.0

Both classical Palladian and Georgian Gothic styles are included in the building; one of the entrance features columns, while the other on the opposite side has battlements and pointed windows. The interior of the castle is also different in style.

The dining room in the Castle Ward. Author: Irishdeltaforce. CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Castle Ward has been the property of the Ward family since 1570, and there is a tower house in the farmyard built by Nicholas Ward in 1610 as a defensive structure. In Game of Thrones, the Old Castle Ward is a location of the Winterfell exteriors, including the Lannister army camp and the Stark military camp.

 Gosford Castle

The entrance front of Gosford Castle.

Gosford Castle is a 19th-century country house close to the border with County Down, situated in Gosford, Northern Ireland. It was built and designed in the Norman revival style for the 2nd Earl of Gosford, and it is considered to be Northern Ireland’s largest castle.

An exterior of Gosford Castle, the south front of the building.

 

London architect Thomas Hopper designed the building. After the 4th Earl of Gosford died in 1922, the castle was no longer in possession of the family. Gosford Castle was used for exterior scenes in Game of Thrones’ third season. The scene of the execution of Rickard Karstark, who is beheaded by Robb Stark in the episode “Kissed by Fire,” also took place here.

 The Walls of Dubrovnik

The defensive walls of the old city of Dubrovnik. Author: Diego Delso. CC BY-SA 3.0

The Walls of Dubrovnik are a series of defensive stone walls situated in southern Croatia. Throughout history, they have been considered to be among the greatest fortification systems of the Middle Ages. The defensive stone walls around the old town are 6,360 ft in length and reach a  height of about 82 ft. The bulk of the existing walls were constructed in the  15th century but were continually extended until the 17th century. This complex structure protected the freedom and safety of three circular and 14 quadrangular towers, two angular fortifications, five bastions and the large St. John’s Fortress. The Walls of Dubrovnik were primarily used as a filming location for the King’s Landing’s exteriors.