Visiting The Tower of Joy- located in Castillo De Zafra, Spain
We recently undertook a tour of Game of Thrones filming locations in Spain. Following a few days further north, we took a trip to one of the most iconic locations of Season 6, the Tower of Joy, otherwise known as the Castillo De Zafra. This is seen in the show when Bran has a flashback to his father's youth, where Ned Stark enters the Dornish Mountains to rescue his sister Lyanna, who is seemingly imprisoned in a tower by Rhaegar Targaryen.
This was the main Game of Thrones location we wanted to visit on the trip – I've always loved the Tower of Joy/ R +L =J section of the books and as soon as I saw the location online last summer I knew I had to visit it!
The location itself is in between Zaragoza and Madrid, but Zaragoza worked well with our schedule so we hired a rental car from Zaragoza Train Station and set off on the 150km drive to the Castle. Neither of us had driven on the 'other side' of the road before but generally I found the Spanish Road network to be much more efficient and easier to navigate than a lot of UK Roads and we made it to our location in just over two hours.
While we wanted to visit the Castle, we wanted to base ourselves somewhere overnight rather than do the whole drive in one rushed day. Thus we booked into a guest house in the small village of Campillo de Dueñas,located 6km from the Castle itself and drove there to first to try and get our bearings on everything!
When we arrived and everything seemed in order, I asked for directions to the Castle, but as I spoke no Spanish I just relied on the hand signals of the locals to point me in the right direction! The castle itself has grown in popularity since Game of Thrones showed it and the Castle itself is actually well sign-posted all the way once you find the initial access-road.
The access road from the town was up a narrow dirt track and initially is quiet an easy drive. Indeed I began to think this was almost too easy! My concerns were proved right as we progressed with the dirt track getting increasingly rocky and steep. I was getting slightly concerned that perhaps our rental car couldnt take much more as we headed over the top of the steep summit, when suddenly we saw the Castle in the distance.
Upon casting eyes on the Castillo, it became very obvious why the show producers decided to use the location. Not only is it very similar in description to the Tower on the show, but it is also located away so far from civilisation that it was easy for them to block off the roads and restrict access to the area. As the show progresses, secrecy is becoming more and more important and indeed, a number of crazy visitors injured themselves trying to obtain footage of the filming.
Pulling up in the makeshift car park, we found that we were the only visitors at the site – we had passed a few hikers on the road but no one was actually at the Castle itself which made for a very unique and memorable experience.
The remote castle is built on the top of rocks and it is easy to see why it has been such a strong defensive position over the centuries. The internal of the castle is not accessible to the general public but the exterior is stunning enough that it is definetly worth a visit. We were fortunate enough to be the only people at the site and got some fantastic unobstructed photos.
Before leaving I took a brief minute to just look out and appreciate the Castle and the Spanish Countryside that surrounds it. I've visited so many different locations from the show but this one just feels different.
That night, we had booked into a fantastic little guesthouse in the local village, there was no-where to get food on a Sunday night so we headed to the nearest petrol station to get some beers and pizza! A perfect end to a great day at the ultimate Game of Thrones location!
Overall, the Castle mirrors its remote location on the show, in that it is based in the middle of no- where in the rural countryside. There are no tourist amenities or facilities anywhere around, but if you ignore that and prepare well I can certainly say there is no better location to visit on the Game of Thrones circuit!
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