1. Cersei and Tyrion Lannister lived in the same room
There’s a sort of cruel irony that Cersei and Tyrion shared a bedroom. That’s right: When Tyrion still lived in King’s Landing, the same room was used for both characters’ bed chamber scenes, though it was dressed to look different. One way the set designers differentiated the locations was by painting the walls different colors, depending on which character was using the area.
2. More sets do double duty than you realize
Since HBO rents Belfast’s Titanic Studios all year and has locations permanently standing, it makes sense that those areas will double for other settings as needed. The mess hall in Castle Black has been used as a room in the Boltons’ storyline, while the Red Keep courtyard was redecorated to be a location in Meereen.
3. Four sets have never been taken down
It’s a lot of effort to rebuild the intricate, oftentimes fully-formed “Game of Thrones” sets. Because of that, four have never been taken down: Castle Black, the Red Keep, Winterfell and Harrenhal. So yes, Castle Black really looks like that in real life (though there are a lot more bugs than you might think).
4. Dragons and lions co-exist in King’s Landing
When observing the furniture in the Red Keep up close, there’s a surprising amount of woodwork adorned with dragons, specifically in the Small Council’s meeting room and in Tommen’s bedroom. Though some of it is coincidence, construction manager Tom Martin says they’ve had discussions about old Targaryen furniture being reused even after the Baratheons and Lannisters took over. Of course, there are plenty of lion details as well.
5. The Hand of the King has a special chair
Earning the seat of the Hand of the King is a very big honor, but did you realize the item of furniture was made just for that government position? The chair on set has the Hand’s insignia inscribed into its back, while the other four council members’ seats are not emblazoned similarly.
6. Two Targaryen kings rest in the Sept of Baelor
The Sept of Baelor has played a significant role in the past few seasons and it will continue to do so in Season 5. But because the location is often filled with people, it’s easy to miss some of its more intricate details.
Unlike many of the other sets that are 360 degree experiences, only three quarters of the Great Sept is built. In one corner, there are two stone crypts for Targaryen kings, with the house’s dragon inscribed in the stone above it. The sept also has small compartments built into its columns that act as crypts for other dead Westerosi kings.
7. The Wall is really high
The top of the “Game of Thrones” Wall is supposed to be hundreds of feet in the air. Though that’s not exactly replicated in real life, it certainly is high.
Pretty much everything viewers see from the Wall scenes exists on the one stage, from the horn the Night’s Watch blows to the chain that helped so much during the Wildlings’ attack in Season 4. The entire set is surrounded by a 350-foot-long painted backdrop that looks back to Westeros, and a massive green screen used to show the Wildling lands to the north.
The set is built on top of another one in the Titanic Studios stage, and at its highest point it’s 28 feet off the ground. That likely makes it easy for the actors to pretend they’re at that altitude in the show. It also helps that the stage where the Wall set is located isn’t heated, so it gets pretty cold in the winter when shooting over a long period of time.
8. The Night’s Watch are addicted to coffee
When we were on set, there were clear signs of destruction remaining after the Battle at the Wall. Scarecrows still stood on the battlements, shattered pieces of wood lay scattered and barrels used to attack the Wildlings remained at the ready. Meanwhile, in one hidden area of the Wall set likely used for storage and supervision, a pile of discarded coffee cups stood out. It seems the men of the Night’s Watch use coffee to keep their wits sharp while guarding Westeros.
9. The hunt is on in the Throne Room
The Iron Throne is the clear scene-stealer in the Red Keep’s Throne Room, as is the seven-pointed star that hangs above it. But there are some other interesting details hiding along the walls, particularly two mirrored scenes of a hunt on the left-hand wall of the room. There is no backstory given, but it’s easy to imagine that Robert Baratheon made the change to the Throne Room after he had the decorative Targaryen dragon skulls removed.
10. Lyanna Stark is not entirely forgotten
“Game of Thrones” hasn’t returned to the crypts at Winterfell since Season 2, but that set’s props remain at Titanic Studios. When walking from one area to another, the crypt’s statues of direwolves and old Stark lords were off to the side backstage, as was the stone representation of Lyanna Stark. Is she giving a middle finger to those who gaze upon her? Makes sense considering Ned Stark’s younger sister was supposed to be as spunky as his daughter Arya.
“Game of Thrones” Season 5 premieres April 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.