Tiny as it might be, Malta has had some glorious cinema moments, from Valletta as Jerusalem during a zombie apocalypse to that iconic airport customs scene in Midnight Express. But as far as modern pop culture goes, no scene rings louder than that time the heiress of a dragon-owning mad king got married to a horse-mounted chieftain under the Azure Window.
The absolute TV phenomenon that is Game Of Thrones kicked off this weekend by celebrating nine years since its premiere on HBO all the way back on 17th April 2011.
In that first episode, fans of the book series and total newcomers alike were treated to a whole lot in the debut episode’s 62-minute running time.
We were introduced to the Stark family, the despicable Lannisters and their constant thirst for the Iron Throne, the Night’s Watch, the terrifying rumours of sightings of White Walkers beyond the Wall.
But it was on the other side of the world that Malta’s great GOT debut was about to be made.
Sure, the series’ first episodes quickly saw everywhere from Mdina’s Vilhena Gate to Fort Ricasoli, Fort St. Angelo and Manoel Island making it to screens worldwide as some of the most iconic places in Westeros, but one of the biggest scenes of the season – and indeed the whole series – was given to Malta’s sister island, Gozo.
Plotting to reclaim his father’s throne from King Baratheon from all the way in Pentos, Viserys Targaryen arranges a marriage between Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo and his sisters, Daenerys.
The marriage goes down in an epic fashion, with Gozo’s still-standing Azure Window serving as the most badass backdrop possible.
It is also here that two of the story’s biggest plots are born.
As wedding gifts, Daenerys is given books of the Seven Kingdoms from exiled knight Ser Jorah Mormont… and three petrified dragon eggs from a mysterious Magister Illyrio Mopatis.
The rest is an insane history spanning over a decade and tens of millions of views from all over the globe.
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Of course, the entire surface of the ground at Dwejra 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.