Is Game of Thrones really an allegory about climate change? Based on political history and style of governance, who would be the best ruler of the 7 Kingdoms? Is the most advantageous investment style doing as the Lannisters do and always paying your debts first?
Game of Thrones (GoT) offers many questions for readers, literature academics, and show-watchers, but the one we like the best is “how can we get to see these awesome filming locations?”
Here’s our top places for UCalgary students to study abroad at that will get you within a raven’s flight of some of the most amazing Game of Thrones filming destinations:
1. Northern Ireland
Have a taste of the Red Wedding during one of the murder-mystery nights in Belfast while on exchange at Queens University Belfast, just a stone’s throw away from some of the most iconic scenes around Winterfell, Riverrun, the Iron Islands, Hardhome, and Castle Black. Northern Ireland is one of the top spots to visit for fans because of the wide variety of GoT locations set here.
You can also head a little more south into the Republic of Ireland to study the Book of Kells just like the Maesters at one of the 7 most ancient universities in the British Isles – held at Trinity College Dublin since 1653. Or view the dramatic Cliffs of Moher while studying at the University of Limerick and have your own experience standing on the top of the world like Jon and Ygritte.
Season 5 and 6 pays visits to numerous locations across Spain including Seville, Andalusia, Barcelona, Guadalajara, and more, which show up as locations in Braavos and Meereen, amongst others.
On exchange at the Universidad de Málaga, you can study in the beautiful coastal city just along the coast from Dorne in Season 6 – the Alcazaba of Almeria, as well as shooting locations from the Dothraki Sea.
At the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, you can experience the Running of the Bulls – where the phrase “Valar Morghulis” seems particularly relevant. Lucky UCalgary students (selected through trial-by-combat, naturally) also have a shot at being awarded $3000 to fund their studies, which can go a long way to buying a good-looking Oathbreaker replica, or food and lodging (because priorities). It also doesn’t hurt that it’s close to some of the other GoT settings such as the Dothraki Sea (Bardenas Reales), and a drive away from the infamous “Tower of Joy” location where the scenes with young Ned Stark are filmed. R+L=J right??
Another location for the water palaces of Dorne is at the Alcázar de Sevilla in Seville, Spain where you can study at Universidad Pablo de Olavide! With Seville as your home base, you can also head to the Arena of Meereen and visit Cordoba – AKA – the Long Bridge of Volantis.
Go north of the Wall (Hadrian’s wall) on your own adventure to Scotland. When one thinks of Winterfell (or “Camelot” for Monty Python fans and “Castle Leoch” for Outlander fans), this often refers to the iconic Doune Castle near Stirling, Scotland (for Python fans they also offer coconuts for complimentary horse clomping at the front gate!). Students studying at the nearby University of Glasgow and the University of Aberdeen may be awarded $3000 towards their studies and gain a first-hand experience feeling like a Laird or Lady of the land, climbing its ramparts. Just don’t go full Ramsay Bolton and try to take it over…
Close to some of our exchange partners in Italy and Austria, and the University of Economics in Prague, Croatia is one of the most popular places for exchange students in Europe or the UK to visit. Our 2017 Group Study Program to Alpine Europe travels through the region, ending in Dubrovnik in early August. With an average meal costing less than $5, students can appreciate what it’s like to live like a king on a student budget. Game of Thrones tours are offered throughout the cities of Dubrovnik and Split, where locals involved as extras in the films have taken up new careers as GoT storytellers and Braavosi-esque merchants. Dawn and dusk offers the best experience of the cities, when sauntering cruiseshippers disappear and quietly exploring backstreets can make you feel like a ninja-like Arya. Also a quick ferry from Dubrovnik to the island of Lokrum will transport you to Qarth, while exploring Dubrovnik and the surrounding area offers you a visit to the House of the Undying, the Red Keep exterior shots, and Braavos scenes.
Just a hop across the water from Spain, Morocco offers an affordable Easter getaway for students studying in the UK or Europe that have the advantage of long mid-semester breaks. You can visit Astapor (Essaouira), Pentos and Yunkai (Aït-Ben-Haddou) while experiencing the adventure of antique markets and sand-boarding across the Moroccan desert. The Semester at Sea program offered to Haskayne students makes a stop in Morocco during its second semester voyage.
Other Thrones Locations Also Worth a Visit…
An island nation just south of Italy for those that need a quick break from overloading on Italian food in classic Robert Baratheon style, Malta offers a lot of punch for GoT fans – the location of the entrance to Kings Landing, the Great Sept of Baelor, and most of the scenes at the Red Keep were filmed here – so you can get the partial High Sparrow treatment in the Red Keep Dungeon at Fort St. Angelo – all of the feels and none of the Walk of Atonement.
Exploring the Wildling’s land beyond the wall is possible with a few day’s stopover enroute to the UK/Europe, or with one of our Group Study programs. Locations across Iceland were used for many of the shots of the lands North of the Wall in GoT, including the Frostfang Mountains and Wildling camp. Don’t miss out channeling your inner Jon or Ygritte and taking a dip in the beautiful hot springs where you can take in the scenery and hopefully forget about those White Walkers for a while. No biggie.
By Virginia Rayner