Game of Thrones (2011)

Global Architecture that Influenced 'Game of Thrones' Set's

By: Domonique Salberg

Granted, Game of Thrones did not stick the narrative landing; the show’s locations and design remained pristine from beginning to end. Lucky in the sense the creators and everyone involved was granted access to film in these ancient locations and the budget to recreate some, the architectural influences that inspired memorable Game of Thrones sets will be discussed here.


Art director, architect, and production designer, Deborah Riley, is behind the show’s best scenes, battles, buildings, and homes, and creating a believable world traveled by dragons, direwolves, and giants. Thus, working on a show that consistently ups the ante for visuals and fantastic settings across the globe, intricate sets, and the notion of a grounded spectacle was crucial. The real-world architecture was referenced and, frequently, balanced with visual effects.

Shots of the Wall, for example, combine visual effects with a model made from polystyrene enclosed in hot wax, while shots of Castle Black are done on an immense stage set built in an Irish quarry. Like Castle Black, Game of Thrones combined both or one over the other depending on how realistic the creators could convey these worlds with what they had access to. Nevertheless, we will cover the Westeros spaces that were based on real architecture around the world.


The real Alcazar in Sevill, Spain.

The Palace of Dorne was influenced by the real Alcazar in Seville, Spain. It was featured as a location in four parts of the complex: the Ambassadors’ Hall, Mercury’s Pool, the Baths of Maria de Padilla, and the gardens.


The ancestral home of Daenerys Targaryen was accomplished by designing a set that carries respect for nature. When Daenerys arrived at the castle’s exterior, this shot was filmed at Muaya Beach in Spain’s Basque country.

Casts of the rock and geologic formations were used to create patterns inside the throne room to convey the stark and powerful interior of Dany’s homeland, which was built and filmed in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Other influences were from the Choir of Notre Dame Church in France and Louis Kahn’s famous Salk Institute.

Salk Institute

Bank of Braavos

The Bank of Braavos was modeled after Albert Speer’s intimidating architecture for the Third Reich. It was designed to establish an exceedingly different aesthetic from King’s Landing and the Mediterranean architecture founded in the show. Riley deliberately had no set dressing and nothing on the table. To inform us when we see the Bank of Braavos, we immediately know they are in control.

House of Black and White/Hall of Faces

For the exterior of the Many-Faced God and the Faceless Men building, the showrunners wanted it to have no windows and one door to project a facelessness for Arya. The Hall of Faces was inspired by the Ellora Caves in Western India, specifically the carvings and the stonework’s incredible intricacy.

Additionally, a temple in Hong Kong called the Temple of 1,000 Buddhas. Riley then decided to lay these two things atop each other to realize the Hall of Faces fully.

Daenerys Targaryen’s Home in Meereen

At the top of the soaring pyramid in Meereen, where Daenerys makes her home for some time, is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan Revival Period. The home’s interior mirrors Wright’s art’s solidity, reviving an ancient yet domestic home enclosed in a pyramid.

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