Game of Thrones in Morocco

Game of Thrones in Morocco
Game of Thrones in Morocco

Sometimes, the natural settings where a film or television series is shot are so powerful that they become one of its hallmarks. It is then that a curious effect is produced. Thousands of people flock to these places attracted by their beauty to enjoy them in person and to be able to walk through the real scenery where the products they like so much were filmed.

The biggest budget films and series can choose any corner of the world to set their action in. Morocco was once chosen to film some of the most acclaimed sequences of the famous series Game of Thrones. So successful was it that many people come to Morocco, even years after watching the series.

The ksar of Aït Ben Haddou

Aït Ben Haddou, located some 200 kilometers from Marrakech and close to the Sahara, is a magnificent fortified city set in the middle of a desert landscape, only painted green by the oasis of the Ounila River.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, if you see this medieval city and you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will immediately be familiar with it, because during the filming of the series it was transformed into Pentos, one of the free cities, and Yunkai, the yellow city, where Daenerys Targaryen joins forces with mercenaries to expand her army. This ksar, on the Route of the Kasbahs, seems to have stood still in the time since its construction, which some locals place in the 8th century BC.

Strolling through the adobe buildings, which acted as a fortress for Berbers and as a staging post on the spice and slave routes from Sudan to Fez and Meknes, is like stepping back into its Berber past. And it also means immediately understanding why this setting was chosen for Daenerys of the Storm, the beautiful Khaleesi. There, the Mother of Dragons, in a role played by the actress Emilia Clarke, was sold as a wife to Khal Drogo.

Today, the defensive function of the ksar of Aït Ben Haddou has been replaced by tourist activity. Although there are still Berber families living in the houses that were once strategically laid out to defend against the enemy, the place is meant to be a place to stop and reminisce about the places featured in the series, although some of the scenes were also filmed at the nearby Atlas Corporation Studios in Ouarzazate.

Essaouira as Astapor

Daenerys starred in some of the most emblematic scenes of the Game of Thrones series. One of them took place in the third season, with the Khaleesi’s capture of Astapor. The Mother of Dragons not only conquers the city but also frees all the slaves and goes on to lead one of the largest armies in the world. An elite army, but now made up of free men.

All this was filmed in Essaouira, the port city overlooking the Moroccan Atlantic coast. Located a hundred kilometers west of Marrakech, Essaouira is a quiet town, heir to a whole historical legacy of Phoenician, Portuguese and French crossroads and centuries of commercial activity. Since 2001, it has also boasted a historic center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The ramparts in front of the port of Essaouira, which perfectly combines the white of the seagulls with the blue of the sky and the sea, became the entrance to the city of Astapor. It is there that Daenerys slays her rulers, nicknamed the Kindly Masters, with a dragon’s blow, to free her army.

In addition, this fishing village, which today is also visited by tourists who come to surf the waves breaking hard off the coast, also appears in some scenes of King’s Landing.

Film sets

It is not the first time that various Moroccan locations have been turned into improvised film sets. Their exoticism and beauty have attracted the world of cinema for decades.

Aït Ben Haddou is precisely one of the places that have appeared most often on the big screen. From being an Egyptian city in The Mummy, it became an Asian mountain in Alexander the Great, and then an African setting in Gladiator. It was also the setting for other legendary films, such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Last Temptation of Christ, Sahara, James Bond 007: High Tension, and, more recently, Babel.

Morocco is a country of contrasts. Its beauty does not go unnoticed, least of all by the location scouts of Hollywood blockbusters and acclaimed TV series such as Game of Thrones. Some Moroccan locations, such as Aït Ben Haddou or the beautiful Essaouira, have been immortalized forever and have become the tourist destination of all those who dream of visiting them to feel, for a few moments, like the protagonists of their favorite film or TV series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

WhatsApp chat