‘Game of Thrones’ puts Peñíscola back on the global film scene

Mediterranean town hosts special screening of the first episode in season six of HBO hit series

Extras for 'Game of Thrones' in Peñíscola on Monday.
Extras for 'Game of Thrones' in Peñíscola on Monday.Ángel Sánchez

The Mediterranean town of Peñíscola on Monday hosted a special screening of episode one of the new season premiere of Game of Thrones.

The city’s medieval center has also been a setting for some of the scenes in season six of HBO’s hit television series.

Although fans in Girona, Almería, Guadalajara and Navarre – the other Spanish settings – all got their screenings inside movie theaters, authorities in Peñíscola decided to air the episode in the exact locations that were used by the film crew.

For the local people who scored bit parts, it was pure “luxury”

The Castle of Benedict XIII, built by the Knights Templar in the 14th century, played host to a screening that was enjoyed by 200 guests and sponsored by television operator Movistar+ and the provincial authority of Castellón. More than 40 media outlets were on hand to cover the event.

For the local people who scored bit parts, it was even more of an event. Antonio Carrasco said it was “pure luxury” for a fan like himself, who is “fully immersed in the plot, to have been selected for the filming and to have shared experiences with the actors who play Tyrion Lannister and Lord Varys.”

Because of the confidentiality clauses that they signed, the extras were unable to reveal any details about the scenes, but few could deny that Peñíscola is to be Meereen, the city of pyramids.

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Although the final cut only shows the town for two minutes, knowledgeable viewers will immediately recognize the Paseo de Ronda, Santa María square and the Ramp of Felipe II, which are already part of film history.

For a few hours, Peñíscola returned to the kind of intrigues that took place here in real life under the schismatic Pedro de Luna, a Catholic cardinal who rebelled against the power in Rome and became an “antipope” in a parallel election at Avignon, France.

It was the kind of political scheming that could easily fit into the plot originally devised by sci-fi writer George R.R. Martín, although season six of Game of Thrones has been developed by HBO’s screenwriters.

But Peñíscola is no newcomer to the world of movies. In the past, it served as the set for several films, the most famous of which was the 1961 epic El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren.

Now, the tourism department has created a city tour called Peñíscola de cine, which takes visitors to the historic and natural sites that were used in El Cid and Game of Thrones but also in the less well-known 1956 comedy The Rocket from Calabuch and in the even more obscure Anna Kadova, which was shot in 1913 and no copies of which survive.

English version by Susana Urra.

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