Malta, a Mediterranean archipelago located close to Sicily, is no stranger to movies. The Da Vinci Code, Assassin’s Creed, Troy, World War Z, and The Gladiator are just some of the movies that were filmed in this stunning island country. And perhaps to no one’s great surprise, HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones shot most of its Season 1 episodes in Malta too.
Are you a fan of the epic fantasy television series? Looking for a holiday with a unique Game of Thrones twist? Read on for a list of the 5 must-visit Game of Thrones filming locations in Malta (and some bonus locations).
Please note that this article will list out the episodes as well as the scenes that take place at each filming site!
Image by Reuben Farrugia
Mdina is one of Europe’s finest fortified cities and its main gate is known as the Mdina Gate. This silent city was used as King’s Landing in the first season of Game of Thrones.
In Episode 3 of Season 1, Catelyn Stark enters Mdina through Mdina Gate with Ser Roderik Cassel at a time when she holds suspicion that Bran is being targeted by the Lannisters. This former capital is also the place where Catelyn and Ned Stark have their final goodbye, not that viewers would have known at the time!
Among the ancient, labyrinth streets of Mdina, be sure to look for Mesquita Square. Appearing in Episode 3 of Season 1, the Mesquita Square is where you will find Littlefinger’s Pleasure House where the sly Littlefinger brings Ned to meet his wife (don’t forget to look for Petyr’s trellised balcony!). It is also the site where in Episode 5 of Season 1, Jamie Lannister has a fierce sword fight that ends in an injured Ned.
Once you have covered all that, make sure you wander around these medieval streets! Many of King’s Landing’s generic street screens were filmed in Mdina. Helped along by Mdina’s car free policy, it is easy to feel as though the entire city of Mdina was built for the purpose of bringing King’s Landing to life! If you’re looking for inspiration on how to pose, rewatch Episode 4 of Season 1 and pretend to be Ned as he shadows Jon Arryn - a search ending in the revelation of Gendry (Baratheon).
Image by Ben Jessop
The Azure Window, also known as the Dwejra Window, was a 92 feet natural arch located on the island of Gozo in Malta. It was already a major tourist attraction before Game of Thrones came into town. Intrepid tourists would fling themselves off the limestone arch, scuba divers would explore its turquoise depths while others would gather around for the requisite Instagram selfie while ignoring the “Danger” signs posted all around.
As for its Game of Thrones connection, this windswept place was the site of the Dothraki wedding between Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targereyn. It was also the place where Daenerys first laid hands on her three dragon eggs, beginning the rise of the Mother of Dragons into power!
Unfortunately, the Azure Window became the latest victim of Mother Nature when it collapsed into the sea in March 2017, following in the shadows of Morocco’s Agadir Arches in 2016 and Aruba’s Natural Bridge in 2005. Nevertheless, it remains a breathtaking, windswept place that should be on everyone’s must-visit list when in Malta. Even without the arch, you can still imagine how the wedding scene was staged, experience the power of the wind and sea as it crashes against the rocks beneath you, or go off swimming or scuba diving.
Image by malta.com
San Anton Palace and its gardens are a prominent feature in Game of Thrones. In real life, the San Anton Palace in Attard is the 17th century official residence of the President of Malta. Understandably, not all of the palace is accessible to the public, but you do get to visit the entrance patio which was used as the Red Keep stables. Can you remember all the scenes that were filmed in San Anton Palace?
In Season 1, the palace was used as the Red Keep - the residence of the King of the Andals and the First Men (King Robert Baratheon in Season 1). A building that dominated the skyline of King’s Landing.
You can find San Anton Palace being featured in Episodes 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8. For instance, its stables are shown as the Starks enter the Red Keep in Episode 3, its halls were used when Ned Stark strode towards council meetings and when he had conversations with Littlefinger (Episodes 4 and 5), where Ned was informed that the Goldcloaks were under his control (Episode 7) and finally, the setting where the Lannisters turned traitors and began murdering the Starks and their men (Episode 8). Arya also successfully recovered her sword Needle in this palace before killing a stable boy.
And if that was not gory enough, San Anton Palace was also used in Episode 10 when the sadistic King Joffrey brought Sansa up to see the heads of her father and Septa lined on spikes. Yikes!
On the western side of Malta near Rabat, you will find Mtahleb Valley - a gorgeous valley untouched by buildings and popular for sunset watching.
Mtahleb Valley appeared in Episode 9 of Season 1 where the Dothroki horde camped after the collapse of Khal Drogo. This later led to Daenerys making the fatal mistake of trusting the Lhazareen witch before the final moment in Episode 10 of Season 1, where the funeral pyre was built and set afire for Khal Drogo. Even after all this time, I still get chills from watching Daenerys enter that blazing pyre only to emerge as the mother of dragons, smoking but utterly unscathed.
Image by Guide Me Malta
Fort St Angelo in the city of Birgu was used as the Red Keep’s dungeons and underground chambers. This was the place where Arya chased some cats in the dungeons during her swords training and overhears Varys and the Magister Illyrio Mopatis of Pentos in Episode 5 of Season 1. It is also the site where her father Ned is later imprisoned before being led to the Sept of Baelor for his terrible beheading.
Not the happiest of places, but certainly significant in the Game of Thrones world.
If the above five must-visit filming locations were not enough to satisfy you, be sure to visit the following:
Malta is a breathtaking island and it is easy to see why it is such a steadfast favourite of film and television series directors alike. If you fancy experiencing a little Hollywood magic for yourself, why not book yourself a flight to this island country? Visit Mayflower.com.my and look out for incredible Qatar Airways flight deals going on right now!
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or https://www.vidadeliya.com