Game Of Thrones continues to grow into one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the decade, and since we’re still waiting for Season 8 to arrive, we decided to take a look back at the iconic episodes and scenes that started it all… and the beautiful Maltese locations that helped create the perfect backdrop.
1. Mesquita Square, Mdina: Ned Stark vs Jaime Lannister
It only took till the Episode Five for shit to get very real between the Starks and the Lannisters, with a heart-pounding duel between Ned and Jamie going down in the courtyard right in front of Littlefinger’s Brothel… which are actually a beautiful house in Mdina and the idyllic Mesquita Square just round the corner.
2. Saint Dominic’s Priory, Rabat: Ned Stark confronts Cersei Lannister
Sure, Jamie Lannister had already made his views on Ned very clear with that fight in the courtyard, but as soon as Ned Stark told Cersei he knew her incestuous secret, his grim fate was sealed. The Red Keep courtyard where this pivotal scene goes down is actually Saint Dominic’s Priory in Rabat, which is the site where the show’s famous “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die” was uttered.
3. Vilhena Gate, Mdina: Ned and Catelyn Stark bid farewell
The last time the Stark couple see each other, before the two inevitably face grim deaths later in the series. Ned and Cateyln’s final words are exchanged at the entrance of Mdina, at Vilhena Gate, which served as the entrance to King’s Landing on many any episode.
4. Fort Ricasoli, Fort St. Angelo, and Manoel Island: Ned Starks’ final days
The biggest spoiler from Season One, and still one of the most shocking scenes of the entire series.
Ned Stark was imprisoned in an underground chamber under the Red Keep, which was actually Birgu’s Fort St. Angelo. 500 years ago, the fort was used as the prison of the famous painter Caravaggio after he murdered a Maltese Knight. Ned was later taken to the Sept of Baelor – or Manoel Island – to be beheaded.
In other scenes, the beautiful gate at Fort Ricasoli was also used for the entrance to the Red Keep.
5. San Anton Palace, Balzan: Sansa sees her father’s head on a spike
The beautiful San Anton Palace is the Maltese President’s Residence, but it also doubled as the Red Keep in different scenes of the first season. It’s also the home of the infamous balcony where Joffrey took Sansa Stark to see her father and her septa’s heads on a spike.
Further down the entrance, there’s a covered corridor which was used for the scene where Arya Stark chased cats, before ending up in the Red Keep’s underground chambers among a couple of dragon skulls.
6. The Azure Window: The Dothraki Wedding
There’s iconic, then there’s this. Sure, Daenerys Targaryen is now one of the series’ favourite characters and seems to be set to claim the Iron Throne, but a whole six years ago, she was a fragile bride at a brutal wedding of savages. This is also the episode where fans of the show first got to meet the likes of Khal Drogo and Jorah.
Of course, the entire surface of the ground looks quite different in real life because the show’s crew had covered it all in a mesh and smothered it in sand to achieve a desert effect (which didn’t go down well with the Maltese authorities and is rumoured to be the reason why the show relocated for further seasons), but we all know what the biggest difference is now. #NeverForget
BONUS: Manikata: Khal Drogo is poisoned by a witch
Perhaps not the first thing people think about when they think of Maltese locations used for Game of Thrones scenes, but little known fact; these ruins on the periphery of Manikata in the North doubled as the village of Lhazareen, where Khal Drogo gets poisoned by a witch. And after all, it is Drogo’s eventual death which spurs Daenerys Targaryen’s six-season rampage.