As an avid Game of Thrones fan, I was ecstatic when I realised that the spur-of-the-moment booking I had made to Spain was to a city that’s home to many of the filming locations from Game of Thrones season 6. Girona is in the northeastern Catalonia region of Spain, just north of Barcelona. Let me tell you about my time wandering Girona’s medieval streets and discovering familiar places from one of the most iconic shows ever (in my humble opinion!). Beware, season six spoilers held below…
On a warm Spanish morning in Girona I began walking along the city’s walls and noticed that there was a certain building dominating the skyline; the cathedral of Girona. When you see it from a distance, it stands out proudly amongst the terracotta buildings of the old town, watching over everything.
The cathedral is an unusual mix of romanesque and gothic architecture and I could see why it was used as the Sept of Baelor through season six of Game of Thrones. A little CGI magic was added to the front of the building and ‘voila’ you have the religious hub of Kings Landing, Westeros (although it does get blown up at the end of season 6!)
However majestic the cathedral appears from a distance, nothing compared to when I approached it from the winding cobbled streets. I entered below the cathedral looking up at it from the bottom of its 91 steps; the very ones that Jaime Lannister clambered up, on horseback, to confront the High Sparrow and persuade him not to make Margaery carry out the walk of atonement. Fans will know that King’s Landing resides in Westeros. However, Girona’s cathedral was used as both Westeros and Essos, due to the fact it looks so different from each side.
The front is King’s Landing and the back is Braavos. In fact, it is around the back of the cathedral that Arya begged whilst blind and was confronted by the waif and forced to fight.
Other parts of the city were also used in waif/Arya confrontations from pushing through crowds by the steps of the old Sant Marti convent, being stabbed by the waif and running into the Arab baths.
As I wandered around the medieval quarter of Gironia, it was easy to see why Game of Thrones chose to film here – you can almost believe you’re in Essos yourself.
There are other areas of Girona used as filming locations in Game Of Thrones too such as the Placa del Jurats where a theatre scene was filmed where Arya watches on as she sees the beheading of her father, Ned Stark, acted out and also the Sant Pere de Galligants monastery which doubles up as the citadel where the Maesters are trained.
The city has clearly reaped the benefits of the tourism brought in from the filming of the HBO series with segway tours and walking tours aplenty but what I loved was that it didn’t dominate the atmosphere. The main thing you soaked up as you walked around was Catalonian culture, the welcoming eateries, the tempting tapas, the locals speaking Catalan and the beautiful cobbled streets.
Admittedly though, I was a little too excited to find that some shops had taken inspiration from the show. Enter Rocambolesc Gelateria. A Michelin star ice-cream shop just over the river from Girona’s old town in the more contemporary part of the city.
It sells some incredible flavors (might I recommend topping it off with violet flavored marshmallows!) but it also sells a cheeky novelty in the form of a blood orange ice lolly of Jaime Lannister’s golden hand complete with shimmering gold powder.
If you’re a Game Of Thrones fan, then Girona is definitely a must-see but it’s also full of its own history and culture that’s worth seeing in its own right. Whether its sampling traditional wines and food, exploring the Jewish quarter, taking a visit in the cathedral or walking across Girona’s many bridges (including one designed by Eiffel…as in the same guy as the Eiffel tower)! I wholeheartedly loved my time in the lands of Spain, Westeros and Essos.
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