At the end of season five of Game of Thrones (a warning to those who are not up-to-speed with the HBO hit series: this could be an epic spoiler), Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon shows up out of nowhere to save its “mother” from a near certain death at the hands of hundreds of Sons of the Harpy who are trying to depose her. Drogon starts spitting fire and flies off with Daenerys from Daznak’s Pit, which looks suspiciously like a bullring. And that’s because it IS a bullring. More specifically, it is the ring in Osuna, in Seville province.
Thanks to the action sequence shot here in 2014, this small town of 18,000 souls has reopened a bullring that had been closed for years, and found in tourism a major source of income after years of unrelenting crisis. Osuna has been mentioned in publications halfway around the world, and was once described by the US edition of GQ magazine as “a Spanish town so idyllic it looks like it’s been drawn by Pixar!”
Other Spanish municipalities now want to emulate Osuna’s success, and are hoping that Game of Thrones will save them in the same way that Drogon saved Daenerys.
This lovely Catalan city is the Spanish location that viewers will see the most in season six. Girona will mostly stand in for Braavos, the city under the custody of the colossal statue of Titan. The abbey-monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants, which houses the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia, will serve as the port of the fictitious city. The Plaça dels Jurats will become a theater, and several streets in its medieval center will function as a marketplace.
Meanwhile, the staircase and façade of the Cathedral of Santa María, with its combination of architectural styles, including an 11th-century tower, will represent the Great Sept of Baelor at King’s Landing, which is something like the Vatican for the Faith of the Seven.
Other Catalan settings have also been used, including the Castle of Santa Florentina in Canet de Mar (Horn Hill in the series), the castle of Montgrí in Baix Empordà, and the wonderful medieval village of Besalú, in the demarcation of La Garrotxa.
One of the Spanish provinces with the longest tradition as a movie location could not be left out of this project. This deserted landscape will become the land of the Dothraki, the nomad tribes of warriors on horseback who (another spoiler!) surround Daenerys at the end of season five.
Several scenes depicting Vaes Dothrak, their commercial capital, were shot in Pechina. And Almería’s already-legendary Desert of Tabernas, home of the “spaghetti western” (and more recently site of scenes for Exodus), became the Dothraki Sea, which is in fact a gigantic steppe in Essos, the largest continent in the make-believe world created by writer George R. R. Martin.
But Almería had something more to contribute to Game of Thrones. The Torre de Mesa Roldán, in Cabo de Gata natural park, will become part of Meereen, the city of pyramids. The Alcazaba fortress in the capital, Almería, will be the capital of Dorne, the kingdom of the House Martell. Finally, the film crew has also been seen around the astounding karst caves of Sorbas.
It doubled for Valencia in El Cid, and it is likely that the famous image of Charlton Heston as the dying medieval knight galloping on the beach to drive the Moors away played a role in HBO’s choice of locations.
The Portal Fosc, or Door of Felipe II, Santa María square, Artillería park and Plaza de Armas all served as backdrops for the streets, gardens and granaries of Meereen.
Peñíscola is part of a network known as “The Most Beautiful Villages of Spain,” and this film shoot will no doubt help get the word out about its charms.
Zafra Castle (Guadalajara)
This 12th-century castle in Campillo de Dueñas, on a rocky outcrop in the middle of a plateau, was the perfect place to recreate Dorne’s Tower of Joy, where Ned Stark watched his sister Lyanna die. The castle was originally an Arab fortress under Al-Ándalus.
Bardenas Reales (Navarra)
They could easily be in California or Nevada, but the Bardenas Reales are in Navarre. This vast, arid extension of clay and sandstone is a natural park, and in the HBO series it has become part of Dothraki Sea.
The Bardenas are split into several areas depending on their orography and color, and they could easily be confused for a piece of Mars right here on Earth. They are also famous for their cycling trails.
English version by Susana Urra.