Visit and Learn the History Behind the Real Dragonpit from Game of Thrones
The Dragonpit from Game of Thrones was everything and more than we hoped. All of our favorite characters came face to face for the first time in a spectacular locale. And guess what? The Dragonpit is not a set, but a real place located just outside of the beautiful city of Seville in the south of Spain. And the best part is that you can visit!
Spoiler alert! Stop reading if you still haven’t watched Game of Thrones Season 7.
The Dragonpit is a real archaeological site, which is part of the ancient Roman city of Itálica. The city was founded in 206 BCE and is one of the earliest Roman colonies in Spain. It came to prominence after the rise of three important Roman emperors who were born there.
The Itálica amphitheater is the star of the city and one of the largest amphitheaters in the entire Roman Empire, with seats for over 25,000 people. That’s the same size as some stadiums we still use today! Originally the amphitheater had three tiers of seats, but only two have survived and can be seen today (the dragon landing on it probably didn’t help either). A columned pit sits in the center of the structure and was used by the Romans to hold animals such as bears to be let loose against the gladiators. During the filming of Game of Thrones, this pit was covered with a platform, where the actors sat for negotiations and the unveiling of the wight.
Filming Game of Thrones
The Itálica Amphitheater played the scene as the Dragonpit from Game of Thrones perfectly. According to the books (and some dialogue between Tyrion and Jorah at the beginning of the scene), the Dragonpit, was built to cage the Targaryen dragons so they wouldn’t roam free and burn whatever they pleased. Dragons never stop growing if they are free, but become stunted if raised in a confined space. Daenerys explained to Jon that “This place was the beginning of the end for my family…A dragon is not a slave”. The structure, which was described as cavernous, originally had a domed roof and was destroyed during the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen Civil War.
Filming for season 7 episode 7 was done in fall 2016. The actual path leading up to the amphitheater was used in the beginning of the Dragonpit scene where the actors are walking on a tree-lined dirt road. Cersei’s entrance-way is also the real entrance visitors use to access the amphitheater. Besides the platform and tent, the only other additions to the set were old dragon bones (Jon was eyeing them out) and the red and gold banners of house Lannister.
There is also a quick shot showing the entire amphitheater from above. There is an awesome viewing area on the second story to replicate this view. The intimate discussion between Daenerys and Jon Snow took place in one of the small alcoves on the right-hand side, which can also be explored. A bit of post production CGI was done to the structure to add some height on one wall (and a dragon), but the structure was relatively unchanged for filming.
What else you shouldn’t miss
The archaeological park is actually very big with lots to explore besides the amphitheater (although that’s the main attraction). The history behind each of the buildings and structures is very interesting and makes for great photos. It’s worth it to take a guided tour which better explains each of the archaeological sites and what life was like in the city during Roman times. Make sure not to miss the thermal bath house, Roman theater and houses of the nobility if venturing out on your own. The colorful mosaics, many of which are still in the process of being restored, are the most impressive to see. My favorite is the Neptune mosaic depicting the Roman gods and goddesses.
How to visit
The Roman ruins of Itálica are just 9 km (roughly 6 miles) from the city of Sevilla. Public buses leave from the city center and take about 25 minutes. The archaeological site is always closed on Mondays and holidays, with different opening hours depending on the season. Entrance is free for EU citizens and just €1.50 for everyone else. The ancient city is very big with lots to see besides the amphitheater. I would recommend allocating at least two hours or more to visit it all. It can also get very hot with not much shade, so be prepared!
So how much longer do we have to wait for season 8 again?