The sheer size of Game of Thrones‘ map of Westeros alone is already somewhat daunting – and that’s just around half of the Known World. Game of Thrones‘ story is quite dense and not easy to break into. Not only is it populated by a massive cast of principal characters, it also takes place in a fantasy world with geography that is as well-documented as the political intrigues that propel much of the action. The story of these lands continue in HBO’s Game of Thrones spinoff prequel House of the Dragon. Although House of the Dragon‘s timeline is set centuries earlier than the original series, most of it will also take place within Westeros.
George R.R. Martin created an incredibly detailed and believable backdrop for the A Song of Ice and Fire series – so much so that Game of Thrones’ location map have drawn droves of tourists to where filming took place. Much of the conflict in Game of Thrones is defined by different regions and the long histories of dispute some have between them, not to mention the strategic advantage certain geographical locations offer and the near-constant fights over who controls them. Indeed, Game of Thrones‘ setting and locations are just as important as the families dividing up the lands among their subjects and heirs.
Considering how often HBO’s Game of Thrones jumps from one location to another, it’s easy for viewers to get dazed and confused about where everything is on the map. With Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon tackling the events that transpired in the Targaryen Civil War, also known as Dance of the Dragons, it’s crucial for viewers to have a fundamental understanding of the layout of Game of Thrones‘ setting/locations. Here’s everything audiences need to know about the Game of Thrones map of Westeros.
This full guide to the entire Game of Thrones map isn’t limited to just Westeros and Essos. It also covers the uncharted regions to the far east and south that haven’t been expanded upon even in George R.R. Martin’s books. We’ll now break down each area, how it’s important to the show, and what other secrets they may hold.
The North is the largest continuous region in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the least populous. The Starks serve as Wardens of the North and operate out of Winterfell as they have for nearly 8,000 years. Other major families hailing from the region include the Reeds, the Karstarks, the Umbers, and the Boltons, though Houses Bolton, Umber, and Karstark are in shambles after losing roundly at the Battle of the Bastards. The North’s significance to the overall Game of Thrones story cannot be understated. Aside from being the historic home to the most prominent family on the show, it was the first stop during the Night King’s invasion. Game of Thrones season 8 ends with Sansa Stark getting crowned Queen of the North.
The peninsula of Dorne is the southernmost region of Westeros and boasts an extremely unique and liberal culture relative to the rest of the continent. They embrace sexual freedoms and welcome illegitimate children into their families publicly. Historically, this is because Dorne’s House Martell was never conquered by House Targaryen in Game of Thrones – a glimpse into the sociocultural divisions splitting the Westerosi people. This cultural dissonance is also partially due to the region being cut off from the rest of Westeros by the Red Mountains, not unlike the Iberian Peninsula and the Andes Mountains in Europe, and also due to the fact that it was settled by an Essosian people called the Rhoynish and not the First Men or the Andals like the rest of Westeros. Like the North, Dorne has had one major family of rulers for most of its history, but House Martell is currently headless after nearly everyone in the family died in Game of Thrones season 7.
Traditionally ruled by House Tyrell, the Reach is a central region of Westeros possessed of the richest farmland on the continent. Its seat of power is Castle Highgarden, which was occupied by the ruling House Tyrell until Game of Thrones season 7. The Reach also boasts major landmarks like Oldtown, the Citadel and other major political houses in Westeros like the Tarlys. Sam Tarly’s childhood home, Horn Hill, is located north-east of Old Town and is seen in great detail in Game of Thrones season 6 when he returns there briefly with Little Sam and Gilly. For the run of the show, the Reach has always been associated with a level of prosperity few others in Westeros can claim, and that’s where their political significance rests.
The Westerlands are on the western side of Westeros, serving as the birthplace of Game of Thrones‘ Tyrion and Tywin Lannister. The Lannisters have ruled the region since the time of the First Men, and their seat is the supposedly impregnable Casterly Rock, located near the coastal city of Lannisport. The Lannisters and their bannermen are known for their immense wealth due to the precious metals and iron veins that run through the hills of the region. The Westerlands also represent a significant military and political power, with the Lannisters boasting one of the biggest and deadliest armies on the continent combined with their family’s history of occupying prominent positions at the royal level.
The Riverlands lie directly to the east of the Westerlands – just north of King’s Landing – and its ruling family is House Tully, whose castle, Riverrun, was the childhood home of Catelyn and Lysa Tully. Apart from being a crucial location during the Targaryen Civil War in House of the Dragon, the Riverlands notably hosted the conflict between the Tullys and the Lannisters in Game of Thrones season 1, serving as the main theater for the War of the Five Kings. In addition to the handful of significant battles that took place there in Game of Thrones season 2, it’s also home to the seat of House Frey, The Twins – the site of the Red Wedding and subsequent end of the Stark Rebellion. It’s also home to Harrenhal, the largest and most unwieldy castle in Westeros, as well as the historically significant God’s Eye lake and its Isle of Faces, which served as the site of the peace treaty between the First Men and the Children of the Forest after the two ended their ancient conflict thousands of years before.
A key location during Aegon Targaryen’s invasion, the Stormlands lie directly to the south of King’s Landing and are bordered by the Dornish Sea to the South. House Baratheon was its ruling house after Aegon I’s invasion, and they’ve ruled from their coastal castle Storm’s End ever since. Both the castle and the region take their name from the storms that batter the south-east coast of Westeros where they’re located. An slightly overlooked bit of trivia in HBO’s Game of Thrones is that the Baratheons are actually Targaryen cousins. The founder of their house was Orys Baratheon, half-brother to Aegon I, and he received the castle after defeating the last Storm King, Argilac, in battle during Aegon’s Conquest. Brienne of Tarth is also from the Stormlands – the Isle of Tarth rests just off the coast due east of Storm’s End. Before Daenerys Targaryen died in Game of Thrones’ finale, she proclaimed Gendry Baratheon as ruler of the Stormlands.
Like Dorne, the Vale is distinguished by its position of relative isolation in relation to the rest of Westeros. Located north-east of the Riverlands and just south of the Neck, it’s largely cut off from the rest of Westeros by the Mountains of the Moon and is virtually inaccessible by land during the dreaded winter. This position has allowed the region to remain politically relevant while also allowing it the luxury of sitting out major continental conflicts if it chooses to do so. House Arryn is its historic leader, and their seat, the Eyrie, straddles a mountain peak naturally protected by the Bloody Gate, a pass that allows access to the Eyrie from the West but is too narrow for foreign armies to traverse. Conveniently nested in the Vale, the Eyrie is very easy to defend, whether it is summer or winter in Game of Thrones.
The Iron Islands is a group of seven islands off the western coast of Westeros, directly north of Casterly Rock. They’re ruled by House Greyjoy out of Castle Pyke, and their naval reputation is arguably the best in the Seven Kingdoms. Culturally speaking, they probably represent Westeros’ biggest outlier. Since their land boasts poor farming conditions, they’ve historically acquired wealth through piracy, and their raiding parties would terrorize towns up and down the Westerosi coast, looting property and kidnapping women. Even after that practice was outlawed after Aegon’s Conquest, the Iron Islanders are still known as a people with little/no loyalty to anyone or anything apart from their own group.
The Crownlands is comprised of King’s Landing, the area surrounding the city, Blackwater Bay, and the castle of Dragonstone – culturally defined mainly by its nature as the continent’s capital. This location features prominently in House of the Dragon season 1, as it served as the jumping off point for Aegon I’s conquest of Westeros. After he emerged victorious and united the Seven Kingdoms, he started building the Red Keep. Before that, Aegon and the Targaryens ruled from Dragonstone, the former westernmost stronghold of the Valyrian Freehold, which was later taken over by House Baratheon after Robert’s Rebellion. The city of King’s Landing itself is the largest and most populous city in Westeros and was also home to the Sept of Baelor – the seat of religious power on the continent – until the holy place was destroyed by Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones season 6. After Drogon melted the Iron Throne, the seat of King’s Landing was given to King Bran of House Stark, capping off the last and most controversial Game of Thrones season.
The wilderness Beyond the Wall is the northernmost region of Westeros; though because it exists independent of crown rule, it remains completely unaffiliated with and largely unexplored by its southern neighbors. It’s so far north that its climate is cold and unforgiving, even during summers, and it’s populated by nomadic tribes that identify themselves generally as the “Free Folk.” There are almost no permanent towns or settlements outside of Hardhome, and Craster’s Keep remains one of its major landmarks. The area Beyond the Wall is largely unexplored, and its nature makes it the source of many ghost stories, with the Night King and other magical beings like the Three-Eyed Raven taking up residence there. It’s bordered to the south by what’s left of the Wall, and includes all the land north of it all the way through the Land of Always Winter. These lands are dangerous to natives and visitors alike, even without Game of Thrones‘ White Walkers.
Culturally, Essos varies wildly from Westeros, and the Free Cities of Pentos, Braavos, Volantis, Myr, Lorath, Lys, Tyrosh, Norvos, and Qohor are prime examples of the dissonance between the two continents. The Free Cities are merchant, self-governing city-states with no affiliation to another, higher authority. They are spread throughout the entirety of Essos – some coastal, some inland and some, like Lys, on islands. While the books go into considerable detail regarding many of the Free Cities, HBO’s Game of Thrones has focused most of its attention on the coastal cities of Braavos to the north, Pentos to the East, and Volantis to the south. Game of Thrones’ Daenerys of House Targaryen begins her journey in Pentos, where she is sold into a marriage with Khal Drogo by Illyrio Mopatis. Arya Stark spends months in Braavos training at the House of Black and White, and Jorah kidnaps Tyrion when he sees the Lannister and Varys at a brothel in Volantis.
Slaver’s Bay distinguishes itself from Westeros because of its historic devotion to the slave trade. Slavery was outlawed in Westeros, but continued to thrive in the cities of Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen seated east of Volantis. Located in the south-eastern region of Essos, Slaver’s Bay is bordered to the north by the Dothraki Sea and to the east by Old Valyria. Dany’s journey eventually takes her to Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen, and one by one, she forces an end to slavery in each city before finally setting up a semi-permanent base in Meereen to the north. Leaving Daenerys’ lover Daario Naharis behind to rule in her stead, she departed Meereen at the end of Game of Thrones season 6.
Qarth is a port city on the southern coast of Essos that’s prospered in part due to its prime location. Not only does it sit on top of a well-traveled trade route, but it’s protected from Dothraki raids by the Red Waste desert as well, which serves as its northern border. Under these conditions, and also due to the fact that Qarth is the last major city before the mysterious regions of the Further East, Qarth became renowned as a center of trade and commerce. Dany visits Qarth in Game of Thrones season 2 after making an inhuman trek across the Red Waste on foot. At first, she’s charmed by the wealth and comfort Qarth offers, but when it becomes clear everyone’s only interested in her in an attempt to possess her dragons, she leaves, but not before killing a few of the city’s leaders.
Also known as the Great Grass Sea, the Dothraki Sea is the largest semi-continuous region in Essos. Largely made up of prairie land, it occupies a huge area of inland Essos, stretching for thousands of miles in every direction and bordered by the Free Cities to the west and the Red Waste to the east. Because the Dothraki who control the area are nomadic, there aren’t any permanent settlements, save for Vaes Dothrak, a city on the north-eastern edge of the region.
After the death of the beloved Dothraki leader Khal Drogo, Vaes Dothrak is where Dany burns and kills the entire Dothraki Khalasar in Game of Thrones season 6. Traditionally, violence is forbidden within Vaes Dothrak, which served as a capital of sorts for the Dothraki, whose leaders met there to trade and settle disputes. Before Dany destroyed their temple and upended their traditions, Vaes Dothrak also served as the permanent residence of the Dosh Khaleen, widows of Khals forced to live out their days as holy women in service to active Khalasars.
At the southern coast of central Essos where the land meets the Summer Sea lies the Valyrian Peninsula, the former seat of the long-dead Valyrian Freehold, the last great civilization. Several centuries ago, the Valyrians ruled half of the Known World from the southern coasts of Essos, using magic to control the region’s volcanoes – the Fourteen Flames – until they exploded during the Doom of Valyria, which killed most of the world’s dragons.
This also resulted in the area’s current geography, dividing it into more islands where only a handful of settlements survive. This includes the rumored criminal stronghold Mantarys, situated on the mainland’s mountains. While traders and envoys avoid the peninsula for its brigands and assassins, it is Old Valyria that inspires fear even in the bravest of explorers. Nestled in the middle of the Smoking Sea, Old Valyria was the former seat of power of the Valyrian Freehold. Now, Stone Men infected with greyscale go there to die and claim the occasional adventurer. The Valyrian Peninsula is a ruined remnant of the age of the Valyrian dragonlords, whose last known living descendant is Aegon Targaryen/Jon Snow of the Night’s Watch.
One of the greater mysteries left unexplored by both the books and the Game of Thrones TV series is the easternmost region of Essos, known only as the Further East. HBO’s show doesn’t go into great detail about this region outside of the first few seasons when Dany is bouncing around the Red Waste and Qarth, but the mysterious cities of Asshai and Yi Ti are both mentioned a few times. Yi Ti is located due east of the Red Waste and the Bone Mountain Range, and it’s bordered to the south by the Jade Sea, which also serves as Qarth’s southern border. Asshai is located on the southeast shore of the Jade Sea, and both cities are characterized by their advanced age and exotic cultures, although not much else is revealed about them in the Game of Thrones books. Asshai is typically associated with more mysticism than Yi Ti and was the childhood home of Melisandre and presumably where she received her training to be a priestess of the Lord of Light. It’s possible we’ll get to see more of these regions in House of the Dragon.
House of the Dragon, based on George R. R. Martin’s Fire and Blood, chronicles the war of succession between rival factions within House Targaryen and also takes place within Game of Thrones‘ map of Westeros. This includes places like King’s Landing and Dragonstone, where the Targaryens plotted each other’s doom, and also the stronghold of Harrenhal near God’s Eye (the massive stones of which were melted by the black flames of Balerion the Dread). The Targaryen Civil War was largely fought in the Riverlands and the Crownlands, but the series could also reveal how Dorne resisted Targaryen rule or how the dragonlords’ riches were kept safe in Oldtown during the Dance of the Dragons.
Game of Thrones‘ events occur around 300 AC (Aegon’s Conquest), while House of the Dragon is set around 130 AC, which means the spinoff will reveal what happened in Westeros 170 years before the original series. Officially slated for release on August 22, 2022, House of the Dragon will star King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), his second wife Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), his brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), and his eldest child Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) – who King Viserys names as heir. After Viserys’ death, the Targaryens and their subjects split into two factions: those who want Viserys and Alicent’s son Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) to be the king and those rallying behind Princess Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne. The show will also feature other key players during this era, including Lord Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Ser Harwin ‘Breakbones’ Strong (Ryan Corr), Lord Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall), Ser Harrold Westerling (Graham McTarvish), and Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitch). House of the Dragon will stream on HBO Max.