Now that season seven of Game of Thrones has hit the small screen, we thought it would be a good time to recall the first time this addictive TV series came into our lives. The lovely islands of Malta and Gozo were chosen as locations for the first series, and filming took place in 2010. We list our top 5 must-see locations for you to visit on your next visit!
Malta’s historic capital is a captivating city still wrapped in ancient walls. Its narrow lanes and squares were used for several scenes set at King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros: you may remember Catelyn and Ser Rodrik riding through the impressive main gate, and Ned Stark and Jaime Lannister’s confrontation in the courtyard (the Piazza Mezquita) outside Littlefinger’s brothel. Just outside Mdina, in adjoining Rabat, you can visit St Dominic’s Priory, which was used to film the Red Keep courtyard scenes.
Valletta, Malta’s current capital, is a beautiful city that has changed little since it was built by the Knights of the Order of St John in the 16th and 17th centuries. Valletta was also used for filming scenes set at King’s Landing. The 17th-century Fort Ricasoli was the Red Keep, and its splendid gate flanked by twirling pillars appeared in several scenes. The fort is usually closed to the public, but you can admire it from the Upper Barrakka Gardens on the other side of the Grand Harbour. Another Valletta fort, Fort Manoel on Manoel Island, was used as the Great Sept of Baelor, where Ned Stark was beheaded.
- San Anton Palace, Attard
This palace is the official residence of the President of Malta, but it also doubled for several scenes set at the Red Keep. A 17th-century villa set in beautiful and extensive gardens, it was used for the courtyard and stable scenes in the first series of Game of Thrones. The gardens are open to the public.
- Mtahleb Cliffs
This beautifully unspoilt stretch of dramatic coastline was used to film scenes set at the Dothraki camp, after Khal Drogo collapsed in episode nine. It was also the setting for the unforgettable scene in which Daenerys walked into the funeral pyre, and emerged with her dragons in episode ten. Plus, that’s located only a ten-minute drive west of Mdina.
- Azure Window, Gozo
The best-known of the Game of Thrones locations in Malta, and the only one on the island of Gozo, is sadly no more: the natural stone arch called ‘the Azure Window’ collapsed into the sea in early 2017. Legions of GoT fans still visit the site, which was used as a backdrop for Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen’s memorable wedding scene in episode one!