It would be a huge whopper of a lie to pretend that I wasn’t most excited about documenting as many Game of Thrones film locations in Malta as possible on my trip.
I guess this is why I blog: I get excited about doing things, sure. But I’m also just as excited writing about them afterwards.
Game of Thrones utilised Malta’s almost exclusively stone buildings and abundance of fortresses on the small Meditteranean isle. These locations stood in for King’s Landing and places such as the Free City of Pentos, Essos and other Southern Westerosi climates where Daenerys resides in season one.
Only season one filmed in Malta. For seasons two-six, King’s Landing was based in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It is only in season seven that the locations for King’s Landing were moved to Spain. There are many, many articles (as you might expect) about why the production for Game of Thrones was moved from Malta to Croatia. Most say that the crew was banned after apparently damaging natural landscapes with about a tonne of sand that had to be poured everywhere, which I will get to later.
And there are slightly few but still many theories on why season seven of Game of Thrones filmed in Spain and not Croatia.
In reality, very boring reasons like ‘budget’ and ‘logistics’ are probably the answer. Nevertheless, that means you can visit the Game of Thrones film locations in Malta knowing there won’t be a few sneaky ones popping up in the last season (sobs) that you’ll miss on your trip.
ALL of the Game of Thrones Film Locations in Malta
The Film Locations I visited…
1. Fort Manoel, Manoel Island, Gzira
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep9
Fort Manoel on the Island of Manoel stands in for the Sept of Baelor. This is the location of the tragic beheading of Ned Stark at the hands of evil King Joffrey.
I took a few snaps of the Fort from Valletta and tried to visit the Island, but alas it was completely closed off and looked like a construction site. Even though it’s visible from Malta’s capital city, it’s seclusion on an island makes for a fantastic filming location.
It’s usually only open to the public on special occasions. Find out more about visiting Fort Manoel.
2. St Dominic’s Priory, Misraħ RBT 2521, San Duminku, Rabat
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep7
This is maybe the most secluded of the Game of Thrones film locations in Malta as the courtyard is hidden away behind the walls of a tall church. It’s only by chance that the door is open and you can sneak in to take a few snaps (in my experience, anyway).
This courtyard is the location where Ned and Cersei have a heart to heart. Ned accuses Cersei of incest with her twin brother Jamie and that all her children are fathered by him. Cersei confirms Ned’s theories and then more or less has him killed. Think of it as a literal ‘if I told you that, I’m afraid I’d have to kill you!’ sort of narrative.
3. Mdina Main/City Gate, Mdina
Where in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep3
The gate is used a couple of times throughout the episode. This is where Ser Rodrik and Catelyn arrive at King’s Landing, and where Ned and Catelyn say goodbye (for the LAST TIME) later in the episode. Deep cuts, man. Deep cuts.
4. Pjazza/Triq Mesquita, Mdina
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep3 & 6
I personally think this is the most recognisable of all the Game of Thrones film locations in Malta. This square in Malta is actually the home of Lord Baelish’s brothel, where Catelyn hides for Ned to meet her.
It also appears again when Jaime ambushes Ned and poor Ned ends up with a damaged leg.
Granted, the square looks a little dirtier in the show and the doors are a brown/red colour, I definitely recognised this filming location.
5. Streets of Mdina
When in Game of Thrones: Just generally everywhere!
King’s Landing is filmed in several places around Malta, but Mdina features most and it’s easy to see why. It has high, stone walls and despite people actually living here, it’s a completely walled-off city and seems to be stuck in a time warp. It would be the perfect film location for productions looking to shoot a medieval city.
6. San Anton Palace and Gardens, 24 G.Portelli, Ħ’Attard
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep4, 5, 7 & 8
Aside from being a gorgeous place to visit (especially with kids), the San Anton Palace is the official residence of the President of Malta. Can you imagine Ms May opening up Downing Street on the reg for people to wander through?
The palace was used as a stand-in for The Red Keep quite frequently. In episode four, the gardens were used as a place for Ned and Littlefinger to have a good chinwag about the former Hand of the King and what he got up to before he died.
In episode five, seven and eight, the open hallway and black gated door you can see below appear when Ned is walking through the Red Keep hallway where he is greeted by a messenger. The car park just behind is where the Red Keep stables are.
7. Fort St Angelo, Birgu Waterfront, Birgu
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep 5
Fort St Angelo is one of many forts that surround the capital city of Valletta and is one of a few that were chosen as Game of Thrones film locations in Malta. The fort is used as a Red Keep dungeon. Arya chases cats through the dark corridors below the Red Keep and overhears a conversation between Varys and Illyrio.
We didn’t go inside Fort St Angelo because it was almost closing time but you can go inside. I’m not sure how much you’ll see in the dungeons, though.
The Film Locations I did not visit…
1. Azure Window/Dwejra Bay, Gozo
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep1
This is the famous Azure window that sadly collapsed due to heavy winds in 2017! It’s also where Daenerys and Khal Drogo got married. This is the Game of Thrones film location that (apparently) Maltese officials were most displeased about.
Malta isn’t what you’d call a ‘desert’ country by any means so the crew absolutely covered the cliff in sand to make the area look like it was in the desert. Now, the Azure Window was Gozo’s main attraction at the time and was probably very well preserved by the Maltese Government so I’m not surprised if they were annoyed at the crew for spoiling the area, even if there minimal lasting damage.
2. Villa Bulebin, Zebbug
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep3 & 7
The final instalment on my list of Game of Thrones film locations in Malta: the Brothel. Whereas the exterior of the Brothel was shot in Mdina, the interior was shot in a Villa in Zebbug. In particular, the scene where Littlefinger is creepily criticising the performance of two of his prostitutes/employees.
3. Fort Ricasoli, St. Rocco Street, Kalkara
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep3 & 5
The entrance to Fort Ricasoli can be seen in Game of Thrones in episode 3 when the King’s party arrives back to King’s Landing. I believe it stands in for the King’s Gate. The entrance can also be seen again when Arya sneaks out of the Red Keep via a secret passage and argues with two guards to get back in.
I didn’t visit Fort Ricasoli because it was just so out of our way, and I think part of it is gated off but if you’re sneaky you can get around it.
4. Tal-Qargħa, Manikata
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep8
Tal-Qargħa acts as a stand-in for Lhazereen, which is the village the Dothraki attack and where Khal Drogo is injured.
5. Verdala Palace, Rabat
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep1
Verdala Palace is the President of Malta’s summer residence. In Game of Thrones, it stands in for Illyrio’s Mansion and is where Daenerys meets Khal Drogo for the first time.
6. Cliffs near Mtaħleb Church, Rabat
When in Game of Thrones: S1, Ep9
This beautiful part of Malta was used for the Dothraki camp at the very end of the season when Khal Drogo dies.
Book a Game of Thrones Film Location Tour!
Do you want to visit all of the Game of Thrones film locations in Malta but can’t be arsed with the planning? If you want to see all of these locations, you’d need a lot of time on your hands and your own transport.
And those are all of the Game of Thrones film locations in Malta! Have you ever been to Malta? Do you hunt down Game of Thrones filming locations? Let me know in the comments below!