A report from Seville during Game of Thrones Season 5 Filming - The Water Gardens of Dorne
PLEASE NOTE: This is a blog of my trip to Seville, for a more detailed look at the Game of Thrones filming locations in Seville and what they represent on-screen, please click here.
When Seville was announced as a Game of Thrones filming location back in the summer of 2014, I was intrigued to see how it would compare to other filming locations I’d visited such as Dubrovnik. Coupling this with my need for some autumn sunshine, myself and my wife decided to book a few days in the south of Spain during Season 5 Filming.
Whilst Game of Thrones bring a lot to any local economy where it is located, generally speaking the show passes through places like Belfast without any fuss, and bar the occasional location closures, without anyone really knowing or caring that they are there. It quickly became clear, that Seville was not a normal filming city!!
The bars and restauraunts of Seville seized on the opportunity to cash in with Game of Thrones themed menus, meanwhile you couldnt walk down the street without seeing a T shirt representing one of the show’s many different factions. Dozens of fans gathered outside of the cast hotel day and night. Indeed, Nikolaj Coster Waldau (Jamie Lannister) had to leave his hotel and check into another one when a group of teenage girls sneaked in and knocked on his door in the middle of the night!
The youth and student culture of the city certainly embraced the show, with seemingly every person you met having a story of meeting one cast member or another since the show had arrived in town. Indeed, a few days into our stay we were wondering if we were the only people in Seville who had not met any of the cast during regular city centre walkabouts.
Game of Thrones was filming in the Alcazar, a medieval Royal Palace with a vast area of Gardens in the Centre of the city, which was chosen to represent the Water Gardens of Dorne. This location allowed the show to have a high degree of privacy when filming , with large areas closed off to the general public.
With our intention to visit this magnificent location after filming had finished, we spent the first few days taking in the tourist sites, going to watch some local traditions such as Flamenco dancing and venturing further out into the local countryside to the fantastic old town of Ronda.
My first real Game of Thrones interaction of the visit took place at the end of Day 3 of our trip. While waiting to cross the road, I noticed the gentleman to the side looked familiar, and then realised that it was Alexander Siddig, otherwise known as Dr Julian Bashir from Star Trek DS9, and now a member of the Game of Thrones cast as Doran Martell, brother of fan favourite Oberyn. I’d heard Alexander had been very fan-friendly since he got to Seville, so I struck up conversation and he was happy to oblige with a photo.
I was really pleased to meet Alexander, as the Dornish storyline had always been one of my favourites in the book series and Doran was a big part of that. If that had been the end of the experience, I would have been happy but at the next few hours, at a local eatery I was fortunate enough to meet the entire main cast of the Dornish storyline. Upon entry, I saw Indira Varma and DeObia Oparei, who play Ellaria Sand and Areo Hotah. It was particularly great to meet Indira, who is one of my favourite actresses from her stint on another HBO classic, Rome, as well on classic British Detective drama Luther.
The Sandsnakes of Dorne really mix things up in the books, and so I have been really interested to see how they come across on screen. The actresses chosen to play them, Jessica Henwick, Keisha Castle Hughes, and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers were great to meet and seem very passionate about the show.
Having met the original Mycrella Baratheon , Aimee Richardson, a few times I have never understood the decision to re-cast her, she has more charisma than pretty much anyone I’ve ever met. Even so, her replacement Nell Tiger Free, was really nice to meet. One of the highlights of the evening was meeting Toby Sebastian, who plays Trystane Martell, son of Doran Martell. Upon recognising our English accents, we had a good chat about Seville, England and Game of Thrones generally
While I may have missed Nikolaj and Emilia ( who it later transpired had stopped for photos outside my hotel while sightseeing), the opportunity to be in ‘Dorne’ and meeting the whole Dornish cast was a very cool experience.
Once the extensive filming was over, the crew moved onto to Osuna and the city of Seville started to return to normal. Two days after filming, we were able to gain unobstructed access to the Alcazar where filming had taken place only days early. While the crew had done a good job clearing up, it was obvious where some areas of filming would be centered around as a number of props were still visible in areas around the site. The existing Lemon trees were supplemented with additional fake Lemons, while the usual fake Ivy was still visible at places across the main site.
Even if you missed these, it would be impossible to miss the huge Dornish Sunspear tapestry in the centre of the site. This looked fantastic and I’m sure will come across well on screen as part of those long talking and walking duo shots GOT is famous for.
Other than these clues doted around the site, we had to guess which areas they would use. It turned out that we managed to guess about 90 percent of them, please see the Game of Thrones- Seville Locations page for a full breakdown.
In conclusion, Seville is a beautiful city, and is well worth a visit even without the Game of Thrones influence. Without the show, I would probably have never chosen to visit Seville, but I am certainly glad I did and would recommend the city to anyone looking for a cultural break in the sun.