Journey to ‘The Kingdom of Dorne’ in Game of Thrones

Saturday, 3 December 2016 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



By Aysha Maryam Cassim

The scenic locations in Game of Thrones can teleport the spectator across seven different kingdoms through the screen. The medieval castles in Northern Ireland, Mediterranean coastlines, desolate deserts of Morocco and old Croatian towns will take you through a mind-blowing visual story telling experience. 

Spain is a country that boasts historical backdrops made for epic battles and duelling kingdoms. The fifth season of HBO’s critically acclaimed medieval fantasy drama series, The Game of Thrones was filmed in ‘The Alcázar’ of Seville. As an ardent fan and a follower of GoT, I was looking forward to embark on a cinematic pilgrimage to follow the traces of Jaime Lannister along the glorious backdrops from the series – in Seville, Spain.

The real world doesn’t always live up to the fictional world. But Dorne was an exception. The Alcázar of Seville, where the show was allowed to film, is a luxurious palace adorned with a complex tapestry of history. 

The worldwide phenomenon, Game of Thrones has given a boost to tourism and fuelled a massive surge in interest among the travellers to witness fantasy in reality. There was a huge competition among the Andalusian cities of Southern Spain to be thrust into the spotlight. The opulence and beauty of Alcazar won over its competitor Alhambra of Granada, another location that was scouted for the hosting city. The real Alcazar has also been used to film some of the legendary movies including ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.




Seville, Spain

Seville, the flamboyant Andalusian capital, has a rich Moorish heritage and plenty of Spanish flair for the tourists to indulge in. The legends tell that Seville was founded by Hercules and flourished during the Tharsis reign. Situated on the banks of the Quadalquivir River, this town was once a prosperous port that carried out trade with the Americans. Today, Seville’s winding alleys and cobblestoned promenades are teemed with tourists and horse carriages. 

I spent my first day in Seville, visiting the most graceful square in the city, ‘Plaza de España’. Then I headed to ‘Torre Del Oro’ which is located by the Quadalquivir River Bank, to soak up the stunning sunset at the Puente de San Telmo. The following day, I set out to explore majority of the must-see sights that are clustered around the cathedral complex; Giralda, Archivo de las Indias and the mighty Palace of Alcazar.




Los Reales Alcazares – The Royal Palace Fortresses

Built across centuries by a succession of both Muslim and Christian monarchs, The Alcazar of Seville is regarded as one of the outstanding examples of ‘Mudéjar’ architecture. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. The Spanish monarchs use the upper floor as their official residence when visiting the city. The palace is known as ‘Los Reales Alcazares’ – the Royal Palace Fortresses in Spanish. 

The word Alcazar is a Hispanic Arabic word that derives from al-qasr, «the fort, castle, or palace”. The Alcazar was built in the 13th century as a fortress and converted into royal residences later. 

Moors left a distinct mark on Andalusian culture. The Quranic inscriptions and glorious arabesques amidst the gothic edifices render the The Alcázar into an enchanting palace in an Arabian tale. The interior architectural elements provide a thought-provoking glimpse of a graceful Moorish world. 

The exquisite plasterwork, ceramic tiles with Islamic-inspired geometric motifs, majestic gold ceilings, and patios are some of the mementos of finest Mudéjar craftsmanship that reminds us Seville’s early associations of Arabian romance. The palace was certified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 for its splendours and refinements that belong to a long ago past.




The Kingdom of Dorne

Dorne, the southern most of the seven kingdoms, is home to the seat of House Martell. The fictional region in the South East corner of Westeros stands out as an exotic city. The Dornish royalty loves opulence and peace. Their clothes are vibrant, embroidered with suns and intricate embellishments that depict their identity. They could be seen lounging in terrace, watching life go by in the gardens that remain in perpetual verdure. 

When you first walk up to the «The Lion›s Gate”, the entrance of the castle of Real Alcazar, you’d feel like being welcomed into a hidden walled settlement as described in the books by George R.R. Martin. The ornate arches in the Alcazar’s Courtyard of the Maidens, the fountains, Moorish waterways, citrus groves and pruned labyrinths staged the perfect setting for House Martell’s lair. 

Because of its historical status, it›s rare anyone is allowed to film there, but the producers fell in love. «Once we realised we were allowed to shoot in the gardens, we realised that there’s nowhere on earth that looks more like the water gardens as we pictured than this place,» D.B. Weiss, Producer of HBO’s Game of Thrones.


Featured episodes untitled-2

The series is using interiors of royal residence at Alcazar, featuring the Ambassadors ‘Hall and Pavilion of Carlos V. The key scenes in episodes 6 and 9 are mostly filmed in the Royal Gardens, Mercury›s Pool, The Grotto Gallery and the Baths of Maria Padilla, hidden under one of the patios. Parts of episodes 2, 6, 7 and 9 were shot in the palace complex in October 2104, and the season was first aired in April 2015. (Source: HBO) 

The Royal Gardens is where some of the most dramatic views and scenes from the show take place. We first had a glimpse of the Alcazar/Water Gardens in Episode 2 of Season 5 of Game of Thrones in which Prince Doran Martell has a heated discussion with Ellaria Sand, lover of Doran›s late brother Prince Oberyn, while sitting on a terrace at King Pedro›s palace overlooking the beautiful gardens, Mercury›s Pool and the Grutesco Gallery. He observes his son Trystane play with his betrothed Myrcella Baratheon. 

In episode 6 Jamie Lannister lands at the Kingdom of Dorne, in an attempt to rescue his daughter Myrcella. In episode 9 Prince Doran receives Jaime in the Ambassadors› Hall, along with Myrcella, Trystane and Ellaria. A later scene shows the feisty Ellaria reluctantly swearing allegiance to Prince Doran, with the Patio de las Doncellas behind. Ellaria secretly meets her daughters, known as the Sand Snakes, by Maria de Padilla›s baths, to plot revenge for Oberyn›s death. (Source: Scribbler in Seville)

As you tread the paths which are scattered through the expansive backyard of Spanish Kings, you will be able to mentally choreograph some of the iconic scenes in Dorne, where the kings, queens, squires and court whisperers of Game of Thrones will vividly come to life. This was a journey that I will never forget.