The fifth season of "Game of Thrones" starts this Sunday (Monday if you're in the UK), promising another 10 episodes of scheming, sex, and bloody violence in the fractured fictional kingdoms of Westeros and Essos.
With a staggering $6 million spent per episode, no expense is spared to faithfully replicate George R. R. Martin's world. Actors and crew travel to Iceland, Morocco, Ireland, and beyond to find the sets that represent the icy crags of the Vale, the untamed wilds of the North, and the bitter desert cities around Slaver's Bay.
But can you tell which is which? With a keen eye — and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Seven Kingdoms — it's possible to identify which real-life windswept hill stands in for the Crownlands, and which snowy tundra is North of the Wall.
(Warning: This post contains extensive spoilers for already-aired episodes of Game of Thrones.)Let's start with an easy one. Castle Ward in County Down, Northern Ireland, provided the backdrop for which famous castle?
Yep — it's Winterfell, the historic seat of House Stark, ruling family of the North. Trailers suggest we will be seeing more of Winterfell this season.
(For information on Game Of Thrones set locations, we referred to articles by the Daily Mail, Skyscanner and the Irish Tourist Board, as well as our own knowledge.)
How about the Azure Window in Malta?
It's the site of Daenerys Targaryen's wedding to Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo on the outskirts on Pentos.
Fun fact: To host Daenerys and Drogo's wedding in real life it'd cost an estimated $8.6 million.
Dubrovnik, Croatia is one of the most famous cities in the series...
...King's Landing, in the Crownlands. With Tywin Lannister murdered by his son Tyrion, the city is sure to be thrown into chaos in Season 5.
King's Landing is named that because it was where Aegon the Conqueror first made his landing during his invasion of Westeros, 300 years before the events of the TV show.
Fort Lovrijenac is a fortress located in Dubrovnik. But what is it within the world of 'Game of Thrones?'
It makes up the external shots of the Red Keep, the castle at the heart of King's Landing that houses the Iron Throne.
Here's another shot of Fort Lovrijenac....
...again corresponding to the Red Keep. It's where Littlefinger offers to smuggle Sansa out of King's Landing at the start of Season 3.
Does Grjótagjá — a cave in Iceland — look familiar?
It should: It's the thermal cave North of the Wall where Jon Snow and Ygritte became very well acquainted before they climbed the Wall.
This grand building is Fort Manoel in Malta.
But in 'Game of Thrones' it's the Great Sept of Baelor, the holiest site of the Faith of the Seven and where Ned Stark met a grizzly death on King Joffrey's orders.
We should be seeing more of the Faith in Season 5...
This is Larrybane, an old quarry in Northern Ireland — but where is it in Westeros?
It's in the Stormlands, close to Storm's End, seat of House Baratheon. Here Lord Renly gathered an army as he prepared to challenge King Joffrey after his brother Robert Baratheon's death.
Here's another shot of Larrybane.
It's also the site of the negotiations that took place between brothers Renly and Stannis, prior to Renly's sudden death as a result of Melisandre's (the "Red Woman") sorcery. Stannis and Melisandre are now at the Wall with Jon Snow, after saving the Night's Watch from a Wildling army.
This is the Vatnajokull National Park in Iceland — but no prizes for guessing what this was the set for.
Yes, it's North of the Wall. Specifically, the Frostfang mountains, where Jon Snow, Quorin Halfhand and others went ranging.
Another Northern Irish location, this is Balintoy Harbour.
It's the set for Lordsport on the isle of Pyke in the Iron Islands, where Theon Greyjoy travels to curry his father's favour of King Robb's behalf — before turning his cloak and invading the North. Theon is now a broken man, tortured and enslaved by the sadistic Ramsay.
This ominous location is the "Dark Hedges" in County Antrim, Northern Ireland...
...A.K.A. the King's Road, which Arya travels up in the company of Night's Watch recruiter Yoren. With Winterfell in ruins, Arya has now set sail for the free city of Braavos, to an uncertain fate.
This is Ait-Ben-Haddou, in Morocco. Dozens of films have been shot there, including Time Bandits, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Mummy and Gladiator.
For 'Game Of Thrones,' it stood in for Yunkai, a city in Slaver's Bay liberated by Daenerys Targaryen. The "Khaleesi" now resides in recently-liberated Meereen, determined to rule.
The Mourne Moutains in Northern Ireland are a site of great natural beauty.
And the same is true in "Game of Thrones," where they play Vaes Dothrak, the closest thing the nomadic Dothraki horse lords have to a city.
Essouria in Morocco is the set for a city that first makes its appearance in Season 3...
...It's Astapor, one of the Ghiscari city states dotted around Slaver's Bay. This is the Walk of Punishment, where slaves are left to die.
And here's another shot of Essouira in real life.
It's the harbour in Astapor where a supernatural assassin in the form of a child is sent by Qartheen warlocks to try and kill Daenerys Targaryen.
Minceta Tower is another Dubrovnik location.
But unlike Fort Lovrijenac, it's not in King's Landing — or even Westeros. It's the House of the Undying in Qarth, where Daenerys ventures at the end of Season 2 to rescue her dragons.
LASTLY: Tollymore Forest Park in Ireland — where is it?
Answer: It's in Wolfswood in the North, where Ned Stark found a dead dire wolf, and gave its pups to his children. 5 years on, his children have grown up, and winter is coming.
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