Filming

Game of Thrones scouting palaces in Spain for season 5

Alcázar of Seville
Alcázar of Seville

Alcázar of Seville

As announced on Wednesday, Game of Thrones may be headed to Spain this year for filming, and according to the most recent reports, it sounds like the show is zeroing in on locations for shooting the show’s fifth season.

Early reports from the country this week indicated interest in Málaga, with Carlos Rosado, president of the Andalusia Film Commission, telling Diario Sur that representatives from the show had been visiting for months, searching much of Andalusia, including the province of Málaga, for locations based on the needs of the scripts.

Now, ABCdesevilla is reporting that Game of Thrones has been considering using the Alhambra in Granada, but attentions have also shifted to include the Alcázar in Seville and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Córdoba. Film commission president Rosado cited the positive impact that GoT would have on the Andalusian economy, bringing in approximately 80 million euros should the show officially confirm shooting in the region.

The Generalife fountains at the Alhambra

The Generalife fountains at the Alhambra

The Alhambra of Granada, a palace over a thousand years old designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features Moorish architecture with pools and detailed artwork throughout the fortress.

The Alcázar of Seville, another World Heritage Site, is a Moorish-built castle from the 1300’s. The palace’s courtyard (pictured above) was used in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven as part of the King of Jerusalem’s castle.

The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos of Córdoba, a medieval castle built next to the Guadalquivir River by Visigoths and rebuilt by emirs of the Umayyad Caliphate, was a main residence of Ferdinand and Isabella. The palace includes gardens with pools and Gothic-ceiling towers.

Ours is the Fury: It’s clear at this point the show is looking for the Dornish center of the Martell clan. In the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the seat of Dorne is the walled settlement of Sunspear, and the Great House’s private family home is the nearby Water Gardens, a palace filled with gardens, fountains and pools, located on the coast. The Water Gardens have been referenced on Game of Thrones in “First of His Name,” as the place where Prince Oberyn last saw Myrcella Baratheon playing with his daughters. Any of the three alcázars would be a beautiful shooting location for the gardens and pools, and the fortress walls and towers would do nicely for the portions of Sunspear that factor into the plot.

65 Comments

  • Anyone else joining me on the hype train for Cynthia Addai-Robbinson (Naevia in Spartacus) to be cast as Obara Sand?!? Almost too perfect to be true in my opinion!!!

  • The architecture in southern Spain is fantastic. You get influences from the Romans, the Moors, the Visigoths and later Christian Kingdoms.

  • Funny enough, although I’ve never seen any of these locations before in my life, they are more or less exactly what I pictured for Dorne as I was reading. The last one, Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, is almost a carbon copy of what was in my head.

  • As an ASoIaF fangirl who lived in Seville for 6 months, visited Granada twice, and has visited both palaces (Los Reales Alcazares multiple times), I am FLIPPING with excitement!

  • Pathfinder,

    Not really. With Oberyn and Ellaria portrayed as more Latino I’d suspect so will all the other Dornish Chatacters.

  • Absolutely breathtaking, most definitely these were the locales that were the inspiration for GRRM’s Dornish culture. I really like the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos for the water gardens, I can visualize children playing among those stunning and massive wading pools, which are the most impressive of the locations mentioned.

    Wonder if the castle of Alhambra de Grenada will be Sunspear, it is located at the top of a rocky hill, I can imagine the cgi wizards adding a tall rocky outcrop with the spear tower off to the side. The surrounding countryside and mountains add even a more inspiring visage.

    http://www.xeta.at/var/albums/Spanien/DSI_0651_HDRI%20Panorama%20Blaue%20Stunde%20Spanien%20HDR%20Alhambra%20Granada%20Andalusien.jpg?m=1322035438

  • Just perfect and stunning! But do you think the government will let D&D film at these historic sites?

  • Patchy Face,

    the show is one of the most popular on the planet at the moment, and it has surely boosted tourism for croatia. maybe the government want them to film in these locations and make people more aware of spain’s heritage and so people don’t just visit for the beaches.

  • Ugh, so gorgeous. I heard the Alhambra suggested a while before the news about Spain Season 5 came out, back when people were speculating about where they might shoot, so it’s incredibly exciting to think that GOT might actually film there or in one of the alcazars.

  • I’m amazed that historic sites like these are even an option. I would have thought UNESCO or the Spanish government would forbid things like filming a TV show there. These aren’t small-time Scottish castles, these are world-famous architectual wonders. I always thought people were wishfully thinking when they mentioned the Alhambra.

  • StrokemeMarg,

    We should have the rest of the show as a reference. Whole cities or palace exteriors are rarely used. Never since Season 1, I would say: Illyrio’s Mansion, which is the Presidential Palace of Malta; and part of Winterfell, which is Castle Ward in Northern Ireland. Sometimes location cities are used as reference, but every cityscape we have seen is purely CGI: King’s Landing, Qarth, Astapor, Yunkaii (except for close-ups; those are the real walls and old houses of a Moroccan ancient city), Meereen and Bravoos. All CGI.

    As always, they will use these locations to shoot in palace and fortress interiors, for their gardens, halls, hallways and walls, just as in Dubrovnik, Split and everywhere else. Just as with every other city, the establishing shots for Sunspear will be 100% CGI, even if bits and pieces are based on real buildings.

  • jentario,

    I really hope they don’t. Firstly, paying those cruel bastards for this location would be horrible (speaking as a Spaniard disgusted by this “tradition”.) Also, isnit’ it a bit too tiny for Daznak Pit? I imagine something far more grandiose. And certainly less European: the Roman arches really don’t look Meereneese at all, since Meereen has been designed with classic Egyptian architecture in mind. I just don’t see it.

  • Luka Nieto,

    Well, they’re not going to find anything much better for the Daznak Pit. Although I do share your hate for bullfighting, it’s barbaric and cruel.

    Lyn,

    That is actually much better…

  • Enfield:
    I’m amazed that historic sites like these are even an option. I would have thought UNESCO or the Spanish government would forbid things like filming a TV show there. These aren’t small-time Scottish castles, these are world-famous architectual wonders. I always thought people were wishfully thinking when they mentioned the Alhambra.

    Filming in these locales isn’t a problem, as long as measures are taken to prevent damage to the site, which I am certain people working at these places know how to do. UNESCO’s World Heritage program exists to prevent major problems, like construction, pollution, excessive tourism and worse (even if this means nothing to some people).

    And like someone else said, the potential boost in tourism to the region will be a reason for the Government to allow filming to take place there.

  • Enfield:
    I’m amazed that historic sites like these are even an option. I would have thought UNESCO or the Spanish government would forbid things like filming a TV show there. These aren’t small-time Scottish castles, these are world-famous architectual wonders. I always thought people were wishfully thinking when they mentioned the Alhambra.

    Last year the show filmed in Diocletian’s Palace in Croatia which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, so having that status doesn’t prevent filming. It’s just up to whoever is controlling the location.

  • jentario,

    I assumed it would be a set & CGI mix, as most spaces that are so open and specific in Game of Thrones. Some place of privilege to sit for Daenerys and part of the arena would be a set, and the rest a CGI extension. I hadn’t even considered that an entire real-life arena could be used. I still find the prospect iffy. If they handle the CGI properly (and it is better ever year), I don’t see the problem. I mean, CGI will be involved anyway; they aren’t going to find 10.000 extras, this isn’t a Hollywood movie from the fifties, it is a TV show. So why not go full-on CGI extension.

  • Luka Nieto:
    jentario,

    I assumed it would be a set & CGI mix, as most spaces that are so open and specific in Game of Thrones. Some place of privilege to sit for Daenerys and part of the arena would be a set, and the rest a CGI extension. I hadn’t even considered that an entire real-life arena could be used. I still find the prospect iffy. If they handle the CGI properly (and it is better ever year), I don’t see the problem. I mean, CGI will be involved anyway; they aren’t going to find 10.000 extras, this isn’t a Hollywood movie from the fifties, it is a TV show. So why not go full-on CGI extension.

    Because a real locale will always look better than CGI. And it’s way more expensive than filming in a place that already exists.

  • OMG everything is so beautiful!! It will be amazing see these kind of places in the show, we’ve seen something similar with Dany but this ones are so fascinating and represent a whole different culture.

  • jentario:
    Well, they’re not going to find anything much better for the Daznak Pit. Although I do share your hate for bullfighting, it’s barbaric and cruel.

    I hope the D-Pit is a bit deeper but anything is possible with these classic areas.

    As far as bullfighting goes, it seems as if the bulls have had the upper hand recently. 3 toreros gored this past week.

  • I don’t mean to offend anyone but truth be told I’m against using any of these sites especially the Alhambra. It does fit Dorne exactly but these palaces are the historical and cultural heritage of several civilizations. The Alhambra inspired countless works of art through the ages. I think it would be disrespectful to use them to shoot – lets face it, it’ll happen – pointless sexposition.

  • Clear,

    What… are you even talking about? There hasn’t been a single on location sex scene in the whole show, in four years, in 36 hours. Never. They’ve all been in sets. And a TV show is also art, so even if sex was depicted in these locations (which WON’T happen), what’s the problem? Speaking as a Spaniard, stop mythicizing our or any other culture; these old buildings do represent our history… yet sex somehow defaces or diminishes any of that? What kind of prude would say such a thing?

  • I’m sorry but you can’t just use one of the most well known castles in the world!!! like Alhambra. Besides, neither has a real water garden, they need bigger pools. Sure, draw inspiration from them, but they should build something themselves. IMO.

  • vlad,

    I’d argue that these are big enough:
    http://comps.canstockphoto.com/can-stock-photo_csp9418348.jpg
    https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7201/6978170553_8c03ca2709_z.jpg
    http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/05/20/39/ab/alcazar-de-los-reyes.jpg

    Building the Water Gardens from scratch would be a waste of resources. They’ve never gone that far with sets, it’d be entirely crazy.

    EDIT: And this
    http://www.gardensonline.com.au/Uploads/WorldGarden/53/Cordoba-Gardens-Topiary-Walk.jpg

  • I would love to see La Alhambra as Sunspear but I don’t think they’ll allow them. The only time that someone was able to shoot there was for Isabel, one of the biggest TV shows in Spain, and they had only two hours to film the scenes before they opened to tourists.

  • Spain is very nice place and with all the photos you guys put here especily the dragons pit I think they are going to do a great job

  • jentario,

    Thanks for those pics. So gorgeous. If the show is given the opportunity to shoot in these amazing locations they’d be crazy not to. I can’t understand why people would rather have the show film on sets instead of real locations. Is it because these places are too familiar as part of our world/culture?

  • GuiSe,

    Wow!

    Those literally ARE the Water Gardens!!!

    They HAVE to let them film there. They look totally awesome, and they look like they were made 500+ years ago just so that we’d have a perfect place for GoT to film a location right out of ASOIAF.

  • Lyn:
    Mariya Martell,

    Thanks, now I live with the fear of a snake biting me while I poop lol.

    I though this stuff was just myth. Not too long ago, I was discussing this with a friend – this is her biggest fear – and now it happens not too far from here (I live in northern Portugal). haha, it’s crazy!

  • jentario,

    I know the photo you linked is tagged as Andalusia, but that’s actually El-Mursi Abul-Abbas Mosque in Alexandria (Egypt). I’m afraid there are no places looking quite like that in Spain… not that they can’t CGI them to be made to look like that, but I think that would be a shame when the real locations are so gorgeous.

    And wow, I can’t believe they may be able to shoot in the Alhambra or The Alcázar of Seville! I thought it was a pipedream when I heard people first suggest them as locations.

  • That photo looks like Getty Villa.. ha. There you go, there is somewhere in Cali they can film.

  • I live in Spain. Anyone knows how I could join the cast as an extra? (I’m being serious)

  • I spent a few days in Granada about 10 years ago, including a visit to the Al Hambra of course. It’s incredible architecture, but I wonder if its too well known to stand in for Dorne?

  • Kevin,

    They never just show any whole building they are shooting in. I think that has happened with a few Irish locations, but nothing else. Even if they end up shooting there, which I doubt, it’ll be corridors, hallways, etc, just as in King’s Landing.

  • Conningtuna,

    For the stuff they shoot in Northern Ireland, there is an agency you can contact to be an extra. I assume it’ll be the same for Spain.

  • I’ve been to Spain about a decade ago and i’ve also been to Portugal last year. I believe Portugal has the ideal atmosphere that would be slightly more fitting to resemble Dorne than Spain would. I’ve been to places in Portugal that are amazingly comparable to what Dorne is described as in the books. Regardless, it’s great that it’s being filmed in Iberia since GRRM had the Dornish culture be influenced by the Moorish parts of the peninsula.

    Can’t wait for season 5!

  • Dannka:
    I would love to see La Alhambra as Sunspear but I don’t think they’ll allow them. The only time that someone was able to shoot there was for Isabel, one of the biggest TV shows in Spain, and they had only two hours to film the scenes before they opened to tourists.

    Comparing Isabel with one of the biggest shows in the world…

    HBO could cover the expense of the site being closed to tourism. If anything, the fact that the site will be broadcast to the world, will undoubtedly increase awareness and generate further revenue via tourism.

  • Enfield,

    It actually makes a lot of sense. Hundreds of millions of people (unofficially at least) watch Game of Thrones world-wide. A lot of people will be marveled by these beautiful and ancient looking locations. As soon as they find out that they are actually real places, they will visit. Extra income for the Spanish government.

  • Apparently they may even be offering the Alhambra up for free, in order to keep it under consideration, since GoT was leaning toward the other toward two locations. If I’m reading this article correctly- someone who speaks Spanish fluently feel free to correct me.

    http://sevilla.abc.es/sevilla/20140524/sevi-juego-tronos-alcazar-201405232103.html

    I think the Alhambra has more restrictions for filming and that’s probably why other locations would be better to use. But if it’s free…it should be interesting to see how it all shakes out. It certainly would bring in loads of tourism to the Alhambra, so I can see why they would offer it up. It wouldn’t be more than a few weeks of filming, I should think.

  • Ours is the Fury,

    They are offering the Alhambra for free but it looks like Sevilla is going to be the chosen one. Córdoba would be in the second place. :)
    Granada and Málaga are out apparently.

  • The producers seem to be already fairly advanced in moving ahead with Seville (with Cordoba the second choice), but the Alhambra is now under consideration as well because the Andalucia Film Commission stepped in and offered it free.

    All three locations (Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba, the Alcazar of Seville, and the Alhambra) are gorgeous. This is basically a win-win-win scenario.

  • It does seem that they are moving quickly with S5 setup. Southern Spain is an awesome location for “Dorne”. I guess that means the scripts are complete as well. Usually GRRM announces that he has completed his script but he hasn’t made a peep about it this year (which could be a good thing).

    Will Ellaria Sand be the only actor tie-in with Dorne from S4? As we know, Myrcella was last seen during S2 but did she have a Kingsguard (Arys) with her when she departed for Dorne? I wonder if Cersei’s gift to Myrcella will be significant?

  • Ours is the Fury:
    Apparently they may even be offering the Alhambra up for free, in order to keep it under consideration, since GoT was leaning toward the other toward two locations. If I’m reading this article correctly- someone who speaks Spanish fluently feel free to correct me.

    http://sevilla.abc.es/sevilla/20140524/sevi-juego-tronos-alcazar-201405232103.html

    I think the Alhambra has more restrictions for filming and that’s probably why other locations would be better to use. But if it’s free…it should be interesting to see how it all shakes out. It certainly would bring in loads of tourism to the Alhambra, so I can see why they would offer it up. It wouldn’t be more than a few weeks of filming, I should think.

    It sets than they will probably shot in the “Alcazar de Sevilla” and ” Alcazar de los reyes cristianos” plus probably some of the Alhambra.
    The article also informs about who manages those places, the 2 Alcazars are managed by local city councils while Alhambra is managed by Andalusia council. Also that the predicted economic impact is around 80 millions of euros(100 million dollars)

  • Dislexia,

    Wow, as soon as I saw the pictures of “Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos” I thought Water Gardens. Seriously, that’s gonna be it.

  • Dislexia: It sets than they will probably shot in the “Alcazar de Sevilla” and ” Alcazar de los reyes cristianos” plus probably some of the Alhambra.
    The article also informs about who manages those places, the 2 Alcazars are managed by local city councils while Alhambra is managed by Andalusia council. Also that the predicted economic impact is around 80 millions of euros(100 million dollars)

    Everything that has been said is OK, although I think something else could be said. As Dislexia said, Alhambra is managed by La Junta De Andalucia, so what is hinted in the article is that the Film Comission (closely related to La Junta) has offered it for free because they would get economic profit directly (not because of HBO but tourism or whatever), whereas if they eventually shoot in any of the other places they wouldn’t.
    Anyway, it seems like HBO is about to make a decision (Alcazar de Sevilla) though Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos isn’t ruled out.