This is the REAL reason you should be watching Game of Thrones
The non-geek guide
Fan or no fan, there's no denying the behemoth that is HBO series Game of Thrones. And as inescapable as the spoilers, book-versus-show arguments and endless Jon Snow memes are, even if you have no idea what the hell 'Winter is coming' even means - there's a fact you should know - it looks simply amazing. Not just in terms of costumes or eye candy, but in terms of location, location, location.
While season five will go down in history as the moment where the series overtook the book, it's also played host to a set of stunning backdrops more impressive as the show goes on. From the ancient historical buildings in Morocco to the cobbled streets of Dubrovnik, Croatia, the guys at HBO sure know how to pick their places.
Here, we uncover five worldwide locations that have served as stand ins for fictional places like Slaver's Bay and the Red Keep. You heard it here first, but don't blame us if they start becoming overrun with avid GoT fans...
Related story: Heidi Klum and Oberyn Martell get sexy in Sia's new video
1. Córdoba, Andalusia
As the placeholder for the Free City of Volantis, we first got a glimpse Córdoba's famous Roman bridge during season five when Tyrion and Varys were journeying towards Meereen to meet Daenerys. While CGI turned the bridge into a grander structure for the show, in reality the city in southern Spain boasts a breathtaking ancient mosque, Mezquita, and an ancient fortress built by Christians in the 14th century. Originally founded by Romans, the city was also once an important Islamic centre - a fact that's reflected in the East-meets-West architecture.
Related story: Travel diary: A weekend in Istanbul
2. Mdina, Malta
There are few places who've seen as much drama and betrayal as King's Landing, but don't let that dissuade you from a trip to the former Maltese capital. While Croatia has also been used to represent King's Landing, this medieval walled town was first seen way back in season one, when Catelyn rode into the city. Home to noble Maltese families, it's little wonder the ancient town was chosen to be the place where GoT royalty reside. Fun fact: Fort Ricasoli has also been filmed for movies like Troy and Gladiator.
Related story: The 5 hottest beach destinations you've never heard of
3. Alcázar of Seville
You know those lush, neatly manicured gardens of the Dorne palace we saw in season five Turns out they're home to one of Seville's own Alcázar. Built in the 14th century and originally built by Moorish Muslim kings, it's still the official residence of the Spanish royal family. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mish mash of architectural styles has given way to ornate archways, fountains and intricately detailed tiles. A must visit, whether you've seen the tense standoff between the Martells and Lannisters, or not.
Related story: Travel diary: the sights and personalities of Cambodia
4. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Ok, so Croatia wasn't exactly an unpopular tourist destination to begin with, but we're betting visits to the Adriatic-Sea facing town haven't exactly been marred by the show. The walled city's charming cobbled streets have been used to illustrate King's Landing in season's past, but as the centrepiece for one of the biggest final scenes in season five - Cersei's walk of shame - the winding path up to the Fort Lovrijenac (the pretend Red Keep) now takes on a new grandeur.
Related story: Buro city guide: Ibiza
5. Essaouira, Morocco
When you're looking for a place to represent the three ancient cities of Slaver's Bay - Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen, what better place than the western region of Morocco? Exotic and impressive (and just two hours west of Marrakech) the walled city's fishing harbour proved the perfect seaside backdrop for Daenerys' liberation of the slaves. With stunning architecture influenced by French colonisation, Essaouira's strong coastal winds mean it's a beacon for windsurfers.
Buro 24/7 Selection