Northern Ireland is now no longer known only in the world of movies and television series as the country where the famous ocean liner RMS Titanic was built. It is now becoming a popular cultural tourist hub, thanks to the hugely successful series Game of Thrones. A great part of the popular medieval fantasy series is filmed in Northern Ireland, and Game of Thrones fans are now flocking in their droves to experience the locations used to recreate Westeros.
The government factor
In the hope that the series could do for it the same thing Lord Of The Rings helped New Zealand achieve, Northern Ireland had to fight off competition from several other countries for filming.
Game of Thrones has attracted into the country’s economy about £80 million, which represents a very impressive return on the approximately £11 million that was paid to HBO to secure the filming rights for Northern Ireland.
Must-see locations for Game of Thrones fans
There are several locations used for this highly popular TV show that its fans should take time out to visit in Northern Ireland. Here are few of the more iconic:
Castle Ward – This is the house you may know better as Winterfell in the series. Castle Ward, which was built in Classical and Gothic styles of architecture, is situated in a scenic location. In the proximity of this house is an unusually attractive sunken garden.
The Dark Hedges – This location was used as the Kingsroad in Game of Thrones. The difference here is that the Dark Hedges is a more beautiful avenue in reality, lined with beech trees. It was said to have been planted in the 18th Century by the Stuart family to make a wonderful impression on visitors to their Georgian-style Gracehill House. And indeed, a wonderful natural phenomenon it is.
Inch Abbey – You may know this location better as the Riverlands. The historic Inch Abbey was said to have been founded as an atonement offering by John de Courcy for destroying Erenagah Abbey. This scenic location was used in the episodes 9 and 10 of Season 1.
Downhill Beach – Game of Thrones fans will know Downhill Beach better as Dragonstone. This is situated on the Causeway Coast and plays host to Mussenden Temple. This temple, erected on a cliff, allows visitors stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding areas.
Seeing it All
Northern Ireland isn’t a very large place, but there is a decent drive between Castle Ward and Downhill Beach. It would be best to stay somewhere central to both locations, which means Belfast. La Mon hotel (http://www.lamon.co.uk, 4*, Castlereagh Road) have standard rooms from ~£70 pppm. If you wanted to organise a multiple stage trip, you have lots of options for hotels, B&Bs and hostels particularly on the north coast where much of the series was filmed.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
I am such a fan! Great post Kelly, I want to someday see these castles in person. Game of Thrones is the only live tv show I cannot miss!