The TV show ‘Game of Thrones’ follows the storylines from the book ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ written by George R.R. Martin and set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The series chronicles the battle of each kingdom to control the famous Iron Throne. The first season is a faithful adaptation of the novel and leads us right to… Malta.
The show has been filmed in many different locations across Europe and Africa including Morocco, Iceland, Malta and Croatia, but the majority of filming took place in Northern Ireland. Tourists and fans can now step in the same places that their heroes did, by visiting the unaltered locations on Malta.
And that’s what we did too by booking a private « Game of Thrones Film Tour« .
Malcolm, our host, picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the first location : Attard, in the central part of Malta.
Our host : Malcolm, the Game of Thrones Master
SAN ANTON GARDENS
Attard is a lovely little city, located between Mdina and Valletta in the central part of Malta. The town is keen on caring for its parks, such as ‘San Anton Gardens’ that is surrounding the Presidents Palace. The local motto is ‘Florigera Rosis Halo‘, which means « I perfume the air with my blossoms« . Have a look at it and you will understand why.
San Anton Gardens is a botanical garden open to the public since 1882. It houses many beautiful flowers and an open courtyard, and also hosts floral shows and competitions. The garden has several walkways that take you through the green gardens where you will discover fountains, ponds with families of ducks and several plants and flowers as well as other trees from all over the world some of them over three centuries old.
Episode 4 « Cripples, bastards and broken things »
In King’s Landing, Littlefinger meets with Eddard and suggests that he keep his investigation into Jon Arryn’s death lower in profile. He also advises him to investigate an armorer located in the city. Eddard decides that Littlefinger may be more trustworthy than he first thought, but Littlefinger discourages him to think that way… We’ll understand later why.
Once we’ve crossed the San Anton Gardens and the famous black swans couple, we reach the San Anton Palace and its small church.
SAN ANTON PALACE as THE RED KEEP
In the early 17th century, Antoine de Paule, a French knight from the Order of St John built on this site a country villa which he enlarged after he became Grand Master in 1623. Successive Grand Masters continued to use the palace as their country residence. When the Maltese rebelled against the Frence (1799-1800), San Anton became the seat of the National Assembly. As chief of the Maletese Congress and Chief Commissioner, Captain Alexander Ball resided at the Palace and built the open loggias and the balustrade walk.
In the British period, it was used as the Governor’s summer residence until 1928 when San Anton replaced Valletta as the permanent residence of the sovereign’s representative. In 1888, Governor Sir Arthur Borton opened up the now public part of the palace gardens.
Since 1974, the gardens has been the official residence of the president of the Republic of Malta. The Palace has over the years welcomed within its walls a large number of distinguished visitors to Malta, including many royal personages, heads of state, statesmen and men of letters.
San Anton Palace stands in for some parts of the Red Keep. In the first scene on screen, the Starks arrive there and use their stables.
Episode 3 « Lord Snow »
Malcolm explained us that almost none of the locations on screen were different from reality : « what you see is what you get« . And proof will follow.
« AH THE STARKS… GREAT TEMPERS, SLOW MIND… » (Robert Baratheon)
The San Anton Palace is also the Red Keep’s Hallway, where Varys and Littlefinger inform Ned Stark that the Goldcloaks are under his control.
Episode 7 « You win or you die »
Thanks to our guide, we got a lot of inside info, set news, backstage tips and a little bit of gossip as well.
Episode 5 « The Wolf and the Lion »
Sansa Stark walks down a corridor in King’s Landing with Septa Mordane, when sounds of fighting reach their ears. Lannister men have begun to slaughter the Stark guards. Septa sends Sansa to her chambers, warning her to bar the doors. Sansa hurries away as a group of Lannisters advance on her governess, gripping bloodied swords. The young girl rushes though passageways, but her escape is blocked by the Hound.
Episode 8 « The pointy end »
SAINT DOMINIC CONVENT as THE GODSWOOD
Our journey continues to Rabat, a small village located just outside the old capital city Mdina. It was once the suburb of Mdina. In the 15th century, while the area served as a shelter from constant pirate attacks, several religious orders arrived in Rabat, remaining there ever since. We stopped at the Saint Dominic Convent.
A very quiet and peaceful place with a fountain in the middle of beautiful gardens. The place is less messy than a few years ago.
‘IN THIS GAME OF THRONES YOU WIN OR YOU DIE, THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND » (Cersei Baratheon)
Episode 7 : « You win or you die »
In the Godswood at King’s Landing, Ned tells Queen Cersei Baratheon that he knows the truth that Jon Arryn died for : that her brother Jaime – not King Robert Baratheon – fathered her children. She admits as much and tells Ned that she’s reviled Robert ever since their wedding night, when he drunkenly called her by the name of his true love, Lyanna (Ned’s sister). Ned suggests her to flee with her children, before Robert returns from hunting and learns the truth.
Next location : Gozo (… to be continued)