Spain has long been a favoured location for film and TV crews, and the massively popular HBO fantasy drama series Game of Thrones is no exception.
In Seville, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel City for 2018, the medieval Atarazanas (Royal Shipyards) and Mudéjar-Gothic-Renaissance Alcázar Real (Royal Palace) have both featured. And just outside the city, the Roman site of Itálica, in modern-day Santiponce, hosted a key scene in the penultimate episode of Season 7: Daenerys and Jon met Cersei in the Dragonpit of King’s Landing, originally built by the Targaryens, to negotiate an alliance against the Army of the Dead. Now the Roman city is again hosting a Game of Thrones shoot, this time for the show’s final season .
The amphitheatre at Itálica, which stands in for the Dragonpit, was the third-largest in the Roman Empire, seating 25,000 spectators – unusual for such a small town (population 8000); but then Itálica had powerful inhabitants, being the birthplace of two great Roman emperors: Trajan and Hadrian. To safeguard its future, the site has applied for Unesco World Heritage status.
Most probably, like in the previous episode filmed there (S7 E6), the Season 8 shoot will use the main arena of the amphitheatre, the underground open pit (where wild animals were kept before being released), and the tiered seating. For Season 7, a platform was built over the pit as a dais for the meeting between Houses Lannister, Stark/Snow and Targaryen.
Various cast (including – spoiler alert – Tyrion, Jaime, Sansa and Arya) and crew have now returned to Itálica to shoot a scene (or scenes) for the final season, with the site closed since 3 May. As ever, security is very tight; a ban on drones is being strictly enforced, with fines of up to €225,000 (US$265,178). The entire site of Itálica will remain closed to the public until 18 May; the site except the amphitheatre will be open from 19-27 May, and normal opening will resume from 29 May. Game of Thrones Season 8 will air in 2019.
Words: Fiona Flores Watson