Entertainment TV Pay a visit to Game of Thrones’ Dorne in real life

Pay a visit to Game of Thrones’ Dorne in real life

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Visions of the sunken city of Atlantis were far from my mind as I crossed into Andalucia by bus from Portugal.

Instead, my mind was in Sunspear, Dorne.

Andalucia is home to both fantastical cities; some say the sunken city of Atlantis, as Plato documented, is on its Mediterranean shores.

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But the biggest drawcard is Seville, which holds the Alcazar, a Moorish stronghold used as Sunspear, Dorne – the seat of the House Martell – in the fifth season of runaway HBO hit Game of Thrones.

In real life, the city was the jumping-off point to trade in the Indies, and the Alcazar was home to the rulers of that trade which empowered Spain.

I walked through the future set and saw the building that was a seat of regional power for the Moors and the Umayyad Caliphate, which conquered the Iberian peninsula in 712 AD.

It was a hastily constructed pilgrimage, shambolically planned on a few scraps of knowledge.

Having read no more than five paragraphs on a blog that the makers of Game of Thrones picked the Alcazar as their Sunspear, I thought it criminal not to cast my eyes over the soon-to-be set while in the area.

game of thrones alcazar
Prince Doran Martell in a scene filmed inside the Alcazar.

My hotel, Pension Lis Dos, was a kooky affair, chosen for its Mudejar artwork, decked in azulejo tiles with a central void studded with old creepers.

Less Ritz, more Fawlty Towers, the stairs had no handrails, their low ceilings forcing me to duck past marbled walls to the rooftop room next to the laundry where white sheets flapped in a lazy, hot June breeze.

What to see

Beating the crowds, I went straight to the UNESCO-recognised Alcazar and found the Fountain of Mercury which Doran Martell sits above in the second episode of the new series.

Another set was underneath the palace, at the Banos de la Maria Padilla, which seem to extend mirror-flat and endlessly under a vaulted ceiling.

The ornately plastered Salon de Embajadores also hosts some scenes from the series, and it backs onto the Patio of the Virgins, which the show’s producers would be criminal to miss.

Next door to the Alcazar is the Seville Cathedral, which is still Europe’s largest by volume, incorporates an ancient moorish tower and holds the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Columbus’ trip where he discovered the Americas was planned in the Alcazar at the Sala de los Almirantes.

And the 800-or-so years of moorish heritage has left a legacy of steaming, relaxing bathhouses which any traveller should visit for a scrub, a soak and a pummelling massage.

The stunning city of Seville houses history and tapas bars. Photo: Shutterstock
The stunning city of Seville houses history and tapas bars. Photo: Shutterstock

What to eat

But Seville is also famed for its food, as the stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Emilia Clarke discovered while inflaming Sevillanos’ hearts in tapas bars during filming.

At all hours Seville’s residents pack into tapas bars and sweet shops where they eat standing up before paying and darting out.

The city’s history is alive on the walls of El Rinconcillo, established in 1670 at the height of the Indies trade.

Rum and sherry bottles, barrel tables and a long wooden bar under hanging jamon: this is Spain.

Alternatively, get some whisky pork at Taberna Coloniales. There are so many options for exploration and a new timetable are required. Eating starts at about 8.30pm and you will encounter savoury delights like fried eggplant and honey, olive oils, salmorejo and salmon tartare with mango.

I went to the Confiteria La Campana for a strong, short coffee and some cake, and had a siesta – something unfamiliar to the beleaguered characters on GoT.

Where to stay

If you want to stay in a place that could have easily been in a 1970s Bond flick, try Casa no 7.

And for the crafty and arty, Las Casas de la Juderia is a network of 27 interconnected townhouses with green courtyards and a flash pool on the roof.

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