Signs of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones-themed tour of ancient and distant signs.
A Game of Thrones-themed tour of ancient and distant signs

Apart from killing off main characters, the popular HBO series Game of Thrones is known for its fantastically exotic locations. Set in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, the show regularly films at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, medieval castles and remote, even hostile, destinations.

In the meticulously imagined world of Thrones, the most visible signs are the banners, sigils and crests that adorn the castles, markets and main thoroughfares of ruling families’ landholdings.

But what are the real signs like in the actual cities portrayed in the series? Because signs are often a window into the soul of a culture, we’ve collected photos from many of the show’s locations – both the old and the new – to answer that question.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia Kings Landing

Old-town Dubrovnik, a 16th-century village on the Adriatic Sea, has added minimalist signage to its elegant street lamps. This clever integration suits both the tourist destination’s need to remain virtually untouched and its modern commercial needs.

Córdoba, Spain. Volantis

Córdoba, Spain Volantis

Ceramic tiles and carved stone placards have served as colorful and durable wayfinding systems in Córdoba’s oldest buildings for centuries, to which we can say only, “Braavos.”

Girona, Spain. Sept of Baelor

Girona, Spain Sept of Baelor

Ouarzazate, Morocco. Astapor, Pentos and Yunkai

Ouarzazate, Morocco Astapor, Pentos and Yunkai

Located astride the Sahara desert, every sign in Ouarzazate battles the sun and sand. Bright colors attempt to compensate, but ultimately recede gracefully into their ancient surroundings.

Doune Castle, Scotland. Winterfell

Doune Castle, Scotland Winterfell

Hand-carved and flush-mounted like Ned Stark himself, these signs near the castle grounds echo the craftsmanship of Brandon the Builder.

Dimmuborgir, Iceland. Wildling camps

Dimmuborgir, Iceland Wildling camps

The climate is stark (no pun intended), and so are the signs. With low population density and an even lower tolerance for anything distracting from the Aurora Borealis, signs in Dimmuborgir are purposely subtle. And you still know nothing, Jon Snow.

Signs on location

To appease the steady stream of tourists, many Game of Thrones filming destinations have erected markers with details about their parts in the show. For example, Northern Ireland’s Ballintoy Harbour (right) placed a graphic describing its transformation into the fictional town of Lordsport for scenes from season two, while Cáceres, Spain (see gallery below) memorialized the location of a notable dragon encounter from season seven.

Signs of the Times June 2020

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