San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and the Flysch of Zumaia are two locations on the Basque coast which will make their debut appearance in Game of Thrones. The world-famous TV series’ 7th season will bring us fabulous photography of the area as well as naval battle scenes on its waters.
The 7th season of Game of Thrones will air this summer on 16 July. The series has become the favorite of millions of many ages across the globe.
Its success can be attributed to many things, among them the intense scripts with their fast-changing storylines and plot twists, the sex scenes and the violence, the diversity of characters that give all types of viewers the chance to identify with someone, and a loyal following on social networks.
From the sets to the special effects, the costumes to the striking scenery, the production quality is exceptional.
We have been shown landscapes from Iceland, Croatia, Malta, Morocco, the U.K. and Spain.
In Spain, producers have chosen filming locations in Peñíscola, the Alcázar of Seville, the Roman bridge of Córdoba, the Bardenas Reales in Navarre, the Alamilla Sierra and Alcazaba Fortress in Almería, Girona including its old town, the Osuna bull ring in Seville, and the Zafra Castle in Guadalajara.
Last autumn, scenes were filmed in three areas of the Basque Country: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Barrika, near Bilbao, and Zumaia, near San Sebastián.
Jon Snow, Khaleesi and Tyrion all moved freely along the Basque coast in a variety of scenes.
Microsoft was already in on the indisputable beauty of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, turning a photo of it into one of its Windows 10 screensavers.
Gaztelugatxe is a very small island linked to the mainland by a double-arched bridge. A hermitage from the 10th century, which is dedicated to John the Baptist, rests atop the islet and is venerated by sailors from the area.
Its name seems as if it were written for Game of Thrones. Gaztelu means “castle” and gaitz either “lashing” or “punishment.” Gaztelugatxe, the “Castle of Punishment.”
Reaching the top of the little island means you have to walk up a total of 241 steps.
King Alfonso XI of Castile and Juan Nuñez of Lara, Lord of Biscay, fought here in 1334. The hermitage was later destroyed in 1594 when it was attacked by the Huguenots of La Rochelle. The English also did battle there both in the 18th century and, on its waters, in the Battle of Machichaco of the Spanish Civil War.
These historical episodes make it all the more worthy as a filming location for the fictional Game of Thrones.
The best time of year to visit is when the waves are big in autumn and the southern winds blowing over the Cantabric Sea make it look rough and magical. Some may prefer the rainy spring or busy summer.
Barrika sits very near to Gaztelugatxe. Several scenes were shot on the beach of Muriola (La Cantera), a small cove with both sand and rocks. It is a difficult beach to reach and particularly coveted by nudists, surfers, and climbers.
The other filming location was the beach of Itzurun in Zumaia, in particular the eastern part of the flysch in the Basque Coast Geopark (a Unesco Global Geopark), which stretches along 13 km of the coast to Deba and Mutriku.
The flysch, a geological phenomenon, consists of sedimentary rock layers that have folded to the point of becoming vertical. 60 million years of the history of our earth are visible in these layers, all the way back to when the dinosaurs disappeared.
You can walk along the coast from Zumaia taking a route around its cliffs or you can take a boat.
It has always been a popular destination and has been used as a filming site for many movies and television shows prior to Game of Thrones. One of these was the film Ocho apellidos vascos (Eight Basque Surnames), a comedy which played with the myth of the eight Basque surname minimum requirement for being an authentic Basque.
We can’t wait to see the new season of Game of Thrones, especially the scenes from these spectacular spots on the Basque coastline.
Photos: Eduardo Zulaica
Text: Félix Zulaica
Translation: Alessandra Rivell
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