Game of Thrones IRL: MTV Visits The Spanish Locations
Season 5 was filmed in Spain - here's how to have the perfect Game of Thrones holiday...
Fans of the show will know that Game Of Thrones loves an exotic location, and following on from last year’s trip to King’s Landing (Dubrovnik, Croatia), we were lucky enough to be invited again.
This time we popped to Seville, to see the locations behind The Water Gardens of Dorne (ooh, pretty!) and the fighting pits of Meereen (...ooh, fighty.)
IRL, the Water Gardens are actually Seville’s incredibly fancy palace The Alcazar, and Meereen’s newly re-opened fighting pit (thanks a lot, Dany!) is a bullring in the nearby hill-top town of Osuna. We got to visit both, accompanied by show producer Duncan Muggoch, who, while very nice, stubbornly refused to give away anything about season six. (We really tried.)
It wasn’t just a sun-soaked, relaxing getaway though, and we packed a lot of Thrones-y experiences into a short weekend break. Check out the sights below that you need to add to your European Game Of Thrones bucket list.
The Alcazar: AKA The Water Gardens of Dorne
We’d heard good things about Dorne, original home of the eye-poppingly handsome Prince Oberyn Martell and the rest of his family, and weren’t disappointed when we visited The Water Gardens’ real-life equivalent, a stunning palace in the heart of Seville.
Thanks to its grand size and levels of extreme fanciness, you can see why The Alcazar was a perfect setting for the Dorne’s Water Gardens, with its solid gold ceilings, a sea of plush foliage and more water features than you could shake a Dornish spear at.
Shooting in the palace and its grounds meant closing parts of it off to the public for a month, as well as making sure no damage was done to the priceless palace, including popping tennis balls onto the bottom of metal stands to avoid scraping the floor.
One of the producers’ biggest challenges was keeping rabid fans away from the actors, and as a result security was pretty tight while production took place. TOO tight, in the case of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who was denied entry to the Alcazar by a keen security guard who refused to believe the chiseled Dane was a member of the cast. In the end, Nikolaj had to pay the (very reasonable) entry fee to get in and film his scenes.
We ooh-ed and aah-ed around the palace’s pretty nooks and crannies, from the Pavilion of Carlos V where Bronn and Jaime fight the Sand Snakes, to the grand Ambassador’s Hall (with its incredible gold ceiling), in which Prince Doran receives Jaime Lannister.
Finally, we saw the Baths of Maria de Padilla (apparently not actually used for bathing) which are hidden beneath the palace, and used by Ellaria to secretly meet the Sand Snakes to plot revenge for Oberyn's death.
Osuna Bullring: AKA The Fighting Pits of Meereen
From The Alcazar, it’s just an hour down the motorway in an air-conditioned coach to the historic hilltop town of Osuna, home to the bullring, The Plaza de Toros, used as Meereen’s newly re-opened fighting pits.
According to our guide Antonio, (Andalucia’s answer to Tom Cruise) you get used to the wind in Osuna - but there’s definitely a lot to get used to, and we spent a good part of the day looking like an eighties power metal band in a wind-tunnel.
It wasn’t just our ‘dos that suffered under the powerful gusts - Osuna’s weather caused difficulties for season 5’s production when the enormous green-screen that surrounded the bullring blew down - a “disaster”, according to producer Duncan “as we lost a full day of shooting.”
Luckily the rest of the 12 day shoot in Osuna went smoothly, with 600 enthusiastic locals brought in to provide the crowd needed for the spectacular scenes. Even 600 weren’t enough to fill the enormous stadium, so the extras were moved from one spot to another in the stands, so the visual effects team could duplicate them later on and create the illusion of a sell-out crowd.
The Osuna residents are clearly super proud of their connection to the show, and since production wrapped in town the local museum has added an entire wing dedicated to all things GoT and a local restaurant, Casa Curro, even has a Thrones-inspired menu. (We recommend the “Lannister” - venison hotpot with black beer and red berries.)
Just before we boarded the bus back to Seville, Duncan, who’d resisted our constant prodding and probing about future storylines, finally caved, when asked how long he thought the show might continue.
“We want to make sure we finish it on a high and don’t drag it out for an extra two seasons.” And when might that be? “...Seven is a big number in Game of Thrones. But who knows?”
GAME OF THRONES®: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON is available on Blu-ray and DVD on March 14th 2016 and is available to own digitally now.
Written by Cal King.