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A Guide to the Best Castles on 'Game of Thrones'
The seat of House Targaryen, Dragonstone is located on an island off the eastern coast of Westeros (the island is also called Dragonstone). There are dragons carved all over it because the Targaryens didn't think a castle named Dragonstone on an island called Dragonstone was a subtle enough representation of their nature. It's possible that there's a large store of dragonglass at Dragonstone, which would make it a key location in the forthcoming battle with the White Walkers. As of season seven, it is occupied by Daenerys Targaryen.
Winterfell is the ancestral seat of House Stark and the capital of the North. Even though it's colder in the North than it is down South, you could do a lot worse than living in Winterfell — its walls are heated by an underground hot springs. According to legend, Winterfell was built by Brandon the Builder thousands of years ago. Though it was briefly held by Theon Greyjoy and later Ramsay Bolton, Winterfell is now back in the hands of the Starks.
Castle Black is the headquarters of the Night's Watch, located roughly near the center of the Wall. As castles go, it's kind of shitty because it doesn't even have any defensive walls, but since it's next totheWall, you can go ahead and give it a pass. Castle Black is only one of 19 castles controlled by the Night's Watch, but by the time of the events of the TV show, only three of these castles have men in them.
The Red Keep is located in King's Landing and is the home of the Iron Throne; it's where the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms lives when he or she isn't roaming up and down the Kingsroad or blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor (pictured at right in this photo). Within the Red Keep isanothercastle called Maegor's Holdfast, which is protected by a wall that's 12 feet thick. You might remember Maegor's Holdfast from season two, when Cersei hosted the women of the court there during the Battle of the Blackwater.
Pyke is the stronghold of House Greyjoy and is located on an island of the same name in the Iron Islands, off the western coast of Westeros. It consists of several towers connected by rope bridges, which, as Balon Grejoy learned in season six, are a convenient way to eliminate any opponents to the throne. The throne at Pyke is called the Salt Throne, because everything having to do with the Greyjoys somehow relates to the sea. At least they stay on brand.
Located in the Reach in southwest Westeros, Horn Hill is the seat of House Tarly. It's surrounded by a forest that is supposedly full of wildlife ready to be hunted, or at least that's what people think given that the Tarly sigil is a guy shooting an arrow. Dickon Tarly lives here, so when you marry him you'll get to live here too since mean old Randyll disinherited Samwell.
The Eyrie is the seat of House Arryn, aka the house that Catelyn Stark's sister Lysa married into before the show started. It is located in the Mountains of the Moon and is notoriously hard to attack because it sits atop an honest-to-god mountain. The Eyrie's notable features include the sky cells, i.e. jail cells carved into the side of the mountain so prisoners just roll right the fuck out, and the Moon Door, a hole in the floor designed for pushing enemies to their death. After Lysa exited through the Moon Door, her new husband Petyr Baelish took control of the castle.
Riverrun is the ancestral home of House Tully, located at the junction of the Red Fork and Tumblestone rivers. It has a pretty cool moat system that can surround the castle by water on three sides, which means it's hard to attack unless you are fully stocked with battle mermaids. It is currently controlled by the Freys, on behalf of the Lannisters.
The Twins is the name for the home of House Frey, so called because it consists of two castles connected by a bridge over the Trident. People who want to cross the bridge have to go through the Freys, which is how the Starks got into that whole Red Wedding mess in the first place. The Twins were still controlled by the Freys until very recently, when Arya Stark rolled up and killed Walder, then put on his face and killed everybody else. Proper wine for proper heroes, bitch!
Located in Dorne, the Water Gardens is a private residence for House Martell, thought it's not the capital of Dorne — that's Sunspear, as yet not pictured on the show. Think of it as the Mar-a-Lago of House Martell, only not tacky and not really costing taxpayers anything because like, who even knows how taxes work in Westeros? Certainly not the Iron Bank. Anyway, before his death, Prince Doran Martell was living there because it's way more chill than Sunspear, but now that the Sand Snakes are dead and Ellaria Sand is in the clutches of Euron Greyjoy, the Water Gardens is the hottest piece of real estate on the Westerosi market. Maybe Daenerys is looking for a summer home?
Moat Cailin is a ruined castle in the North that technically falls under the purview of House Stark, but only as long as they're in control of the North. It is supposedly more than 10,000 years old, but nobody believes in architectural preservation in Westeros so they just use it for strategic defense against invaders from the South. It is back in the hands of the Starks after being briefly occupied by the Boltons and the Greyjoys.
Harrenhal is the most goth castle in Westeros. If they had TV in the Seven Kingdoms, this is the first castle you would see onGhost Hunters: The Riverlands, and every single room would light up the EMF meter. According to legend, Harrenhal is cursed, which seems likely since most of the houses who've held it have been wiped out. Also, Balerion the dragon burned it down during Aegon's Conquest. It technically belongs to Petyr Baelish, but let's be real: You don't own Harrenhal. Harrenhal ownsyou.
Located east of Winterfell, the Dreadfort is the seat of House Bolton. It is a scary place, where Boltons of yore used to hang the flayed skin of their enemies on the walls. The Boltons are all dead now, but as of season seven, no one has bothered to go check what the hell is going on at the Dreadfort. It might be time to just raze it to the ground and start over. Nobody wants these damaged goods.
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