The land of Westeros, where most of the plot of the TV shows Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon happens, has a vast amount of cool, monumental places, such as the Wall, Dragonstone, Eyrie, etc. However, neither is as monumental as the capital, King’s Landing. But, if King’s Landing is the name of the capital, what is the Red Keep then?
The Red Keep is the main, colossal castle in King’s Landing, where the King of the Andals and the First Men sits on the Iron Throne. The Keep is majestic, decorated, and dominates the skyline of the famous capital of the Seven Kingdoms.
The Red Keep, as well as most of the shots of King’s Landing, were shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Girona, Catalonia, during the Game of Thrones series. However, for House of the Dragon, the locations changed – especially for the Red Keep, which was constructed in its entirety from scratch in a huge Warner Bros studio in London, England. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is The Red Keep?
Before we get into the filming locations, one must first know what the Red Keep is. I saw many people online mixing the Red Keep with King’s Landing. But, while the two are closely intertwined, they are not the same thing.
King’s Landing is the capital city of the Seven Kingdoms and the hometown of the King/Queen sitting on the Iron Throne. The Throne itself, however, is located in the Red Keep – the main, great castle that sits atop King’s Landing.
It serves as the home of the King and the royal family, as well as a government building, housing the Small Council, the Hand of the King, etc. The history of the Red Keep is vast, and it can be seen and felt with every step around the castle.
Its halls – especially the cellars – are decorated with the skulls of deceased dragons, bred and ridden by the member of House Targaryen in the past – or present, if we’re talking strictly about the House of the Dragon series leading up to the Dance of the Dragons.
The Targaryens held the Throne for the longest, but there were many changes throughout history. For a while, House Baratheon was on the Iron Throne with Robert Baratheon. After his death, his son Joffrey claimed the Throne, but after he perished, too, his mother Cersei became the Queen. That’s when House Lannister ascended the Throne.
Lastly, Barn Stark was crowned as King in the Game of Thrones series finale, meaning House Stark was now ruling not only in the North but throughout the Seven Kingdoms. Regardless of all the House changes on the Iron Throne – the headquarters always remained in the Red Keep, in King’s Landing.
Where Was The Red Keep Filmed In Game Of Thrones?
Game of Thrones was filmed in numerous places, including Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Croatia, etc. The city of King’s Landing itself was mostly shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia, due to the spectacular history of the town, especially the Old Town walls. Some exterior shots, however, were also shot in Girona, Catalonia.
Fun fact: I live in Croatia, and Game of Thrones was filmed in numerous spots across Croatia, not just Dubrovnik. I currently reside in Kaštel Gomilica, the spot where Braavos was shot. And, it’s not that far from the Klis fortress, which was used as the filming location of Meereen in the series. Pretty cool, right?
Now, the Red Keep, believe it or not, was also shot in Dubrovnik, namely, in Fort Lovrijenac. Many famous scenes were shot in the Fort, such as the big tournament in Season 2, thrown in honor of the ascension of King Joffrey to the Iron Throne.
You can visit it in real life. It’s a real fort located on the western side of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, located on a 37-meter cliff. It’s really a spectacular site to see, and you can learn more about it here.
I found one piece of info about Fort Lovrijenac quite interesting; the outer walls, facing the sea, are up to 12 meters thick at some points. However, on the other side, facing the city, there are spots where the walls are merely 50-60 centimeters thick, showing how focused they were defending it from the seaside.
The odd design was made on purpose; in case an enemy was to ever siege the Fort, it could easily be taken down, destroyed, and reclaimed by those who knew about the design.
Where Was The Red Keep Filmed In House Of The Dragon?
I badly wanted to apply as an extra for House of the Dragon, but unfortunately, King’s Landing and the Red Keep’s filming location changed for the new series. They didn’t return to Fort Lovrijenac or Dubrovnik at all.
Instead, the show used several old towns in Extremadura, Spain, including Trujillo, as filming locations for King’s Landing. Some scenes from Episode 1 were also shot in Caceres Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight with one of the best-preserved middle-age towns on the planet.
As for the Red Keep – it was shot, almost in its entirety, in London. Specifically, in one of the huge Warner Bros studios in London, where the set was built in its entirety – from scratch. However, instead of building separate rooms, the Red Keep and the layout of the rooms were built in its entirety in one piece, like a real palace.
Not with all the rooms, of course, but it included the grand staircase of the Red Keep, the Council quarters room, the Throne room, and even the arched courtyard. The building strategy allowed cameras to move freely and shoot from any angle instead of being limited in any capacity. I must say, so far, the effort has truly paid off, as the show is visually spectacular.
What I like the most about the set is the changes made to the Throne Room. The Throne is surrounded by blades – sharper, spikier, and resembling George R.R. Martin’s description of looking like a “carpet of a thousand swords” a lot more than what we’ve seen in Game of Thrones.
It’s unclear whether the filming will ever return to the iconic locations in Dubrovnik and Fort Lovrijenac, but we’ll surely know once Season 2 goes into production, as it was just recently confirmed by HBO Max.