‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: Is Westeros a Real Place?

As the epic and long-anticipated Game of Thrones Season 8 begins, fans are once again swept up in the realm of magic, fantasy, and swordplay. The dramatic battles looming on the horizon are eclipsed only by the beauty of the scenery captured in sweeping panoramas of Westeros.

However, unlike Khaleesi’s dragons, Westeros is actually surprisingly real. Well, okay, Westeros is completely make-believe, no matter how much we want it and believe it to be real. Although, there have been times when the actors have professed that they feel the impact of Westeros in their real lives. Iain Glen, who plays Ser Jorah Mormont, told EW that sometimes Thrones just bleeds over into their real lives. 

That certainly makes sense. GoT fans know how real it can seem, and it is said to be inspired by, and filmed at some very real and very beautiful places. The popular show’s most dramatic and beautiful landscapes really do exist and it’s scattered across the globe.

Iceland: Beyond the wall

The land beyond the wall isn’t all CGI produced. In fact, most of it comes directly from Iceland’s dramatic natural landscapes. Early seasons showcased a bunch of footage of Vatnajökull National Park in the southwest and Lake Mývatn in the Icelandic north. In previous seasons there have also been dozens of scenes filmed overlooking glaciers and deep in active volcanic areas. 

This season, sources are still unclear where exactly crews filmed in Iceland for Season 8. We know that they spent time there in the winter of 2018, — January and February to be exact — and there are growing lists of sightings and Instagram posts of both Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke posing for photos and staying in Icelandic hotels. Although, exact locations still remain a mystery we are absolutely certain the places they’re filming are cold. Very, very cold.

Northern Ireland: Winterfell and more

Northern Ireland continues to be a “Game of Thrones” mainstay. With so many of Westeros’ varied scenes being shot in multiple locations around the country. Belfast has long been home to many of Game of Thrones interior locations being shot at the now-famous Paint Hall Studio. All throughout 2018 sets could be seen from locations around Belfast as they were constructed and deconstructed in the studio space.

According to Conde Nast Traveller, much of this season’s Winterfell footage was filmed at Moneyglass, which is northwest of Belfast. The Battle of Winterfell, in Season 8 episode 3 was reported to take over 50 days to film. And even now, shows lingering signs of its now famous history as farm life grazes on fields once filled with northern battle cries. Now that we’ve seen the Season 8 premiere, we know that the same locations in Ireland we’ve seen in the past appear this year and we no longer have to guess. It is nice not to imagine what it looks like when Jon Snow finally rides his dragon either.

Croatia: King’s Landing

The Dubrovnik Times reported back in April 2018 that sets were being constructed in Belfast, to replicate areas of King’s Landing and appeared to be the beginnings of a battle scene. Which of course, leads us to understand that there are likely to be scenes filmed in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik again for this season as well. Its gorgeous seawalls and ridiculously beautiful architecture have always made it a perfect location, full of film worthy sets with little reconstruction necessary.

Spain: Kings Landing

In previous seasons, much of the balmy land of Dorne has been shot in Spain, and Season seven’s Dragonstone scenes were all shot in Spain as well. This season, actors have been spotted returning to Anfiteatro de Italica at Santiponce, which is the area used as King’s Landing’s Dragon Pit in Season 7.

Real or fantasy, we are excited to be along for the ride as Season 8 unfolds all the mysteries we’ve been waiting for.