Scenes of the fictional kingdom of Dorne were shot in Seville — an amazing city that deserved better than Game of Thrones’ weakest plot.
This week saw the conclusion of season six of HBO’s mega hit Game of Thrones. It also saw the story’s brief return to Dorne, a southern European-feeling kingdom that has turned out to be one of the low points of the show. Though there was a lot of excitement when Dorne was introduced, in the end nothing much happened there and the characters were cartoonishly underdeveloped.
Which is a shame because the show’s Dorne scenes are actually shot in one of my favorite Spanish cities: Seville.
Seville is located about 320 miles south of Madrid and is the capital of Andalusia. People have lived in the area around Seville for thousands of years, but the city itself was founded by Romans. It later became part of the Caliphate of Córdoba and, like many cities in southern Spain, was ruled by various Muslim leaders for hundreds of years. In 1248 it became part of the Kingdom of Castile and was ruled by the Christian, Ferdinand III.
Today, Seville still bears the marks of the various rulers, religions, and cultures that have called it home — a fact that no doubt made it appealing as the setting for comparatively exotic Dorne in Game of Thrones. Here it is in the show:
The crown jewel of Seville is the Alcázar, which sits in the middle of town, and which was prominently featured in Game of Thrones (above). The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress for the area’s governors then expanded in the 11th century by prosperous Muslim rulers. It’s a premier example of Mudéjar, or Moorish influenced, architecture.
Subsequent leaders kept adding on over the centuries, and today the Alcázar is characterized by a mix of Islamic arches, Baroque details, and verdant gardens.
The Alcázar was a highlight of my trip to Seville, and it’s absolutely worth checking out. But the city is also filled with other architectural wonders that highlight its history as a crossroads of various cultures.
Just steps away from the Alcázar, for example, is the Seville Cathedral, which happens to be the third largest church, and largest cathedral, in the world. (The only larger Catholic churches are not technically cathedrals.)
The cathedral itself is a fascinating study in adaptive reuse; some features were originally built by the city’s earlier Muslim inhabitants, and the bell tower itself was once a minaret.
Like many European cities, Seville is peppered with impressive churches, including one with a Rococo interior that literally made my jaw drop. More recent architecture includes a sweeping pavilion built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
I personally found the pavilion too expansive and hot (I was there in the summer), but it offered a thought-provoking contrast to older parts of the city that were designed for different (defensive, religious, etc.) purposes.
Finally, no conversation about Seville’s built environment would be complete without at least a brief mention of the Metropol Parasol:
The Metropol Parasol is a huge, wooden, waffle-like structure that was built in 2011. It covers a concrete plaza, and it photographs really well; really any pictures of the parasol look otherworldly.
It is, however, a complicated object. During my visit, few people were using the plaza, which was relatively dark and forlorn. It was a sharp contrast to the more lively plazas elsewhere in the city, and the entire thing felt out of place and over designed. It was, in other words, a really good example of how flashy architecture is not always as successful as simple, traditional design.
Still, Seville is a fascinating city to roam and everything from the Alcázar to the Metropol Parasol make it not only visually impressive but also intellectually stimulating.
For more on Dorne and Game of Thrones — as well as more imagery from Seville — check out this featurette from HBO:
— Jim Dalrymple II