It was the year 299 AC when Daenerys Targaryen arrived to Astapor, the infamous city of Slaver’s Bay. Astapor was the place where people could buy armies of Unsullied, castrated male warriors who were said to be the best ones of the entire continent. So of course, Daenerys ended up buying 8,600 of them to join her forces.
The most awesome part? She released her newly bought slaves afterwards and sacked the city of Astapor, killing the slave masters in the process. Of course, all of this happened in A Game of Thrones, a fictional book series turned into a TV Show. But hey, did you know that the scenes that took place in Astapor and Yunkai were actually filmed in Morocco of all places?
Essaouira, the real-life Astapor
It was in the town of Essaouira, located two hours west of Marrakech, where scenes of the third season of A Game of Thrones were filmed. The mystic vibe of this Moroccan city was the perfect setting for a pseudo-medieval show such as A Game of Thrones. What are you waiting for? Book your ticket to Astapor right now!
The most famous scenes of Astapor were filmed in the waterfront where you’ll find an impressive watch-tower surrounded by blue fishing boats. And while Essaouira never had an army of castrated warriors, you will nevertheless encounter many interesting characters and activities in this coastal city.
The first thing that you’ll probably notice is the French influence in the western part of the Medina (Old City). As you might already know, the French colonized Morocco and they didn’t leave until the 50’s. The good part? You can find some of the best crepes here!
Also, contrary to Marrakech, here in Essaouira you will find street food even during Ramadan! The 10 DH meatball kebab is definitely my favorite one, if you befriend the owner you might even get some free french fries with it. Dessert? How good does a 2 DH croissant sounds?
Travel to Aït Benhaddou, the real-life Yunkai
The city of Yunkai was the second one of the Slaver’s Bay that Daenerys Targaryen conquered. You see, the city had hired the mercenary band known as the Second Sons in order to assassinate her, however, one of the leaders betrayed his comrades and pledged his allegiance to Daenerys.
Using underground tunnels, Daenerys’s army fought against the slave masters of Yunkai and the city fell within minutes. The slave masters were executed and their slaves soon joined Daenerys as free men. Sure, all of this was condensed into two episodes of the TV show but you should definitely read the books for the extended version of the battle!
The scenes that took place in Yunkai were actually filmed in Aït Benhaddou, a famous castle located en route to the Sahara desert of Morocco. This place is very famous within Hollywood since many movies and TV shows have been filmed here. Examples include Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia and Kingdom of Heaven.
This citadel can be reached on any organized tour to the Sahara desert or as a day trip from the city of Ouarzazate. There isn’t much to do here besides continuing your journey south to the Sahara but nevertheless it’s a very pleasant stop on the way. You can read all about it here: Aït Benhaddou, the Hollywood of Morocco.
So how about Meeren?
Unfortunately, the third and last city of the Slaver’s Bay trio was actually filmed in Croatia along with the rest of the scenes that take place in King’s Landing but don’t despair: I wil be traveling in Croatia this autumn and I will bring you the most exclusive locations of A Game of Thrones from there.
Who knows, if I’m lucky I might even take a selfie with Tryrion Lannister and the rest of the gang? Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Have you ever been to any of the filming locations of this awesome TV show? Share your thoughts and let me now what you think!