As you probably know by now, I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones Morocco. Not only do I follow the series assiduously (and look forward to 2019). The Iron Throne, in addition to the story that is very compelling for me, also has a peculiarity. It is filmed in spectacular locations, often easily recognizable. In Morocco, I was able to visit all the places immortalized by the series, thus creating a real mini-itinerary for fans like me and for those who want to know some curiosity about this wonderful desert country.
Here, as promised, is my itinerary on the trail of Game of Thrones in Morocco:
The Kasbah of Ait-Ben-Haddou is one of those places that makes you exclaim “Wooow!” with your mouth wide open from the very first glance. This wonderful fortified city is located between the Sahara desert and the city of Marrakech, on the ancient caravan route.
The village stands on a hill, right next to the dried-up bed of the Ouarzazate river, which can be crossed thanks to a – as a local boy called it – “Berber bridge” made of stones and sandbags or by a more stable concrete bridge not far away. This wonderful UNESCO heritage site is extremely touristy but definitely worth seeing. Today, unfortunately, the kasbah is semi-inhabited, there are now very few families left to live in the village. Most of the houses are reserved for tourists, in the form of riads or bazaars. By now this kasbah remains standing only thanks to tourists and the film industry, there is little authenticity left. A bit sad, but it is certainly neither the first nor the last place to suffer this bitter fate.
But let’s get to it, what did they shoot here? Ait-Ben-Haddou in the fantastic world of Game of Thrones Morocco is none other than Yunkai, one of the slave cities conquered by Daenerys Targaryen during the third season.
Even the famous finale of the third season – one of the most beloved among fans – saw its birthplace in this magical place. The scene is probably one of the most spectacular ever filmed. Daenerys frees the slaves and launches into a veritable bath of the crowd, acclaimed as “mother” and liberator of chains.
For the Kasbah of Ait-Ben-Haddou, this was certainly not the first time to appear on the big and small screen. In fact, famous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Gladiator, The Mummy. Tea in the Desert and Alexander were filmed here.
In Ouarzazate, practically in the middle of the desert. There is a place that always arouses some interest: the Atlas Corporation Studio. I didn’t have the chance to visit them inside, but I did take a stroll in the kasbah of Ouarzazate. Less beautiful than Ait-Ben-Haddou, but still fascinating for those who come across this type of construction for the first time.
Game of Thrones Morocco Ouarzazate
In the series, we see the Altas Studios several times, especially in the storyline of Daenerys Targaryen. In the first season, in fact, Dany is in Pentos, guest of the illustrious Illyrio Mopatis, the man who gives her the three famous dragon eggs. Moreover, this is where she also meets her future husband, the wild and flamboyant – not to mention bonafide – Khal Drogo. All of the scenes set in Pentos were shot in these very studios, affectionately christened “Hollywood.”
To the wonderful Essaouira, I have already dedicated a separate post. It is a city too beautiful to be relegated to a simple paragraph. The location scouts of the series have seen it through and did not miss this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site, including it in several key scenes.
We’re back in the thick of Daenerys Targaryen’s story, specifically in season three. Dany and the multi-faceted Jorah Mormont are walking on the walls of Astapor when they suddenly suffer an attack aimed at killing Khaleesi. The mission, of course, fails thanks to the valiant intervention of knight Barristan Selmy. In all of this, the walls of the fortress known as Skala du Port are clearly glimpsed, along with the famous bastion.
Another rather famous scene of the third season filmed in Essaouira is the first meeting of Daenerys with the Unsullied. The loyal and ruthless army still fights at her side. The outcome of this meeting, filmed in the studios of Ouarzazate, I think we all know a bit ‘all (spoiler: the former slaver Kraznys is burned alive by one of the dragons of Khaleesi and she takes the whole army aggratise). I do not think we need to repeat it.
If you look closely at the scene, you can clearly distinguish the circular bastion Borj el-barmil, part of the Skala du Port fortress and visitable with the same ticket. Of one thing I am certain: they did not need to recreate the effect of the whipping wind, Essaouira I think is the windiest place ever visited, not even the Valle de la Luna in Chile has reached so much!