his is Northern Ireland, where the Seven Kingdoms come alive and the landscapes are straight out of a fantasy.
Time to start your own Westeros journey.
You’ve witnessed the bloody battles, the devastating shipwrecks, the dramatic births and betrothals… this is where it all goes down.
In Antrim, it’s a dark descent into the 400 million-year-old Cushendun caves, where sorceress Melisandre gave birth to a shadow baby. At Londonderry’s Mussendun Temple, the 120ft-high cliffs plummet to Downhill Beach, otherwise known as Dragonstone, and where Stannis Baratheon watched as the Seven Idols of Westeros burned.
The brooding 18th-century Castle Ward in County Down may be familiar to you as Winterfell. Overlooking Strangford Lough, this is the house of Stark where Ned greeted King Robert on his arrival.
You’ve found Westeros – this time you can get to it for real.
Northern Ireland in ruins
Crumbling ruins and ancient stonework tell the story of the Seven Kingdoms… and Northern Ireland. Around the timeworn ruins of Inch Abbey, County Down, you’ll stumble upon the Riverlands area and its grim landmark, The Twins. And neighbouring demesne Castle Ward was home to House Stark. Game of Thrones breathes new life into these ancient monuments, many of which had remained untouched for centuries… even by dragons.
Fantasy and fact
Sometimes fact can be stranger than fantasy. Take the Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, where 40,000 hexagonal basalt rock columns dominate the seascape. It’s said giants had a hand in their creation. Admire medieval Dunluce Castle, perched precariously on its clifftop. In 1534, a mysterious woman in white was seen gazing at the sunset, before disappearing over the cliff’s edge. Years later, locals used to see her walking the shore below. Fact or fantasy? In Northern Ireland, they merge into one.
The Seven Kingdoms are home to more ethnicities and accents than you could swing a mace at. One thing the Westerosi have in common? The island of Ireland is where many of them grew up. Take the Spider and Hodor, who were both born in Northern Ireland, while Ser Davos and Lord Baelish are Dublin-men. And that’s just for starters. Good accents, lads…
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Photos courtesy Tourism Ireland
Photo of Dunluce Castle courtesy Wikimedia Commons, author Dave Green
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