Nature isbre glacier fog mountains Guro Skjelderup

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Your guide to Game of Thrones destinations on Svalbard

SPOILER ALERT

On April 15 season 8 of the popular HBO-series Game of Thrones is ready to air, and millions of fans worldwide are eagerly anticipating the conclusion of the song of ice and fire. Some of the scenes have been shot on Iceland, however, when roaming around beautiful Svalbard, we repeatedly see places that are reminiscent of scenes from the series. Get our list to places that reminds you of Jon Snow, The Wall and the Red Wedding - on Svalbard!

1. Frostfang Mountains vs Advent Valley

The Frostfang Mountains, are a mountain range in the far north of the continent of Westeros. The southern peaks extend into the North of the Seven Kingdoms, but the majority of the range is located north of the Wall in wildling territory. Most of the mountain range lies to the northwest of the Wall between the Lands of Always Winter and the Haunted Forest. They are named for their jagged peaks, and wildlings are thought to know hidden valleys that can provide shelter when crossing the mountains. On Svalbard you will find our Arctic version of the Frostfang mountains just outside Longyearbyen in the Advent Valley. The mountains are situated like pearls on a string and are a magnificent sight whether you come as a visitor or in company with Jon Snow.

2. The Wall vs the Nordenskiöld glacier

Although the Nordenskiöld glacier with its 25 x 11 kilometers cannot quite measure up to The Wall (which is reportedly 480 kilometers long and 213 meters high), most people who have been close enough have felt like tiny Nightwatchers compared to the huge glacier front. In summer, most visitors come by boat, and if you are lucky you will see the glacier calve large chuncks of ice into the fjord. In winter, the snowmobile trail runs down the moraine on one side, and it is a wonderful experience to stand right in front of the large glacier (note - the rule of thumb is to keep three heights' distance to the front - in case the glacier calves!). Whatever the season, the Nordenskiöld glacier is just an impressive sight, and as intimidating, as standing in front of The Wall!

3. Arrowhead mountains vs Pyramiden

The great battle between the army of Jon Snow and White Walkers took place at the foot of Arrowhead Mountain, far north of The Wall. It was also here The Night King was created by Children of the Forest many thousands of years ago. In Svalbard you will find "Arrowhead Mountain" in the form of the Pyramiden mountain, which stands above the abandoned Russian mining town with the same name. In summertime, you can catch a boat to Pyramiden, a trip that also will take you into the realm of The Wall (aka the Nordenskiöld glacier), and in winter you can go there by snowmobile.

4. Eastwatch by the Sea - Bear Island

Eastwatch-by-the-Sea is the easternmost castle of the Night's Watch along the Wall, located on a grey, windswept shore by the Bay of Seals. Eastwatch-by-the-Sea is of great importance in the Season 7, as it is close to the last place where the Night King and White Walkers have been spotted. After fierce battles, where amongst others Jon Snow is severely injured, most survivors head to Kind's Landing. Shortly afterwards, the Night King comes, now with undead-Viserion. The dragon blows fire on The Wall and it melts and collapses and give the White Walkers access to walk into Westeros. Back to the Arctic and here the Bear Island got its name, not from ice spewing dragons, but from swimming polar bears. When the Dutch explorer Willem Barents approached the island in 1596 in an attempt to find a northeastern seaway to China and India, he saw a swimming polar bear, and the Bear Island got its name. Today, the island is a nature reserve with the exception of a small area around a meteorological station in the north. In March 2019, the station had a visit from a polar bear for the first time since 2011!

5. Vaes Dothrak – Bjonahamna

Vaes Dothrak is the only city in the Dothraki Sea, and is a place of peace where the Dothraki khalasars may gather and meet to trade, but not to fight. It is forbidden to draw a sword while in the city, under penalty of death. Dothraki holy women, known as dosh khaleen, live in the city and are respected by all Dothraki. The city has a large marketplace, where foreign merchants from as far away as the Free Cities and Asshai sell their goods. On Svalbard, Bjonahamna is located on the shore of the Temple fjord, with fantastic views to the Fjordnibba bird cliff and Hilmar Nøis' trapper's station Fredheim. Nøis built a hut at Bjonahamna, and used this as a supplementary trapper station when the weather conditions were rough. If you go on boat trip to the Von Post glacier during summertime, we often visit Bjonahamna for lunch.

6. Iron Islands - the Bird Mountains

Iron Islands is an archipelago of Ironman's Bay, located in the Sunset Sea off the west coast of Westeros. Iron Islands is the smallest region in the seven kingdoms, and consists of steep, barely fertile rocks with few safe harbors. The sea around is stormy and often creates great destruction. The island group is ruled from the island of Pyke by House Greyjoy. On Svalbard, you'll find our version of the Iron Islands just out Longyearbyen by the Bird Mountains (Fuglefjella). These mountains are probably some of the most lush areas on Svalbard. Droppings from ten of thousands of sea birds make the mountainside fertile and green, and it is wonderful to go here by boat during late summer to look at the wildlife. Reindeer and polar foxes are found in the area, and the sea boasts cod - and sometimes belugas and minke whales. Here, only nature prevails.

7. Iron throne - Iron cow

The Iron Throne was constructed by Aegon I Targaryen, the first king of the Seven Kingdoms. He had the throne made from the swords surrendered by his enemies. The Iron Throne consists of a thousand blades, heated in the breath of Balerion the Black Dread. It is an asymmetric monstrosity of spikes and jagged edges and twisted metal. It is uncomfortable to sit in, and the back is fanged with steel which makes leaning back impossible. Aegon I had it made this way, because "a king should never sit easy". The "Mad King" Aerys II Targaryen was always cutting himself upon it, and it is said that the throne itself has caused the deaths of several people. The Iron Cow in Longyearbyen has a slightly different reputation. When the local barn closed down in the early 1960s, the only way to get milk was by mixing milk powder, water, unsalted margarine and vitamins in a big machine named the "Iron Cow." The product was reminiscent of low-fat milk, and was collected in large buckets from the various delivery points around the city. In the summer of 1995 air freight picked up, and as it was able to deliver (twice as expensive) fresh milk, it became the end of the iron cow.

The iron cow is now situated at Coal Miners' Cabins, a cosy and popular place to stay in Longyearbyen.

8. Main Hall at the Red Wedding - Funktionærmessen Restaurant

The Red Wedding was a massacre that happened during the War of the Five Kings arranged by Lord Walder Frey as revenge against King Robb Stark for breaking the marriage pact between House Stark and House Frey. During the massacre, King Robb, his wife, Queen Talisa, his mother, Lady Catelyn, most of his bannermen and men-at-arms are murdered following the marriage feast of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. A brutal episode that left most people watching shocked and with no appetite left. However, at Funktionærmessen Restaurant, be assured that no such things will happen. Although the food is a Royal wedding worthy, all guests are kindly asked to leave their polar bear protection outside, and you are therefore most certain to experience nothing but excellent food, fantastic views and great service.

Photo credits

Guro Skjelderup (main photo), Cecilia Blomdahl (1 og 5), Anne Maanum (2 og 3), Maria Philippa Rossi (6), Ragnar Hartvig (7), Agurtxane Concellon (8). Screenshots from the HBO-series Game of Thrones.

To clarify, the photos on the left (or the top one if you're on a pad/mobile) are from the HBO-series Game of Thrones. The photos on the left side/below are from Svalbard. Did you guess correctly?

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