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Top 10 Game of Thrones scenes: our trip to the real-life locations

It's become one of the most talked about shows on television, known for its family feuds, bloody battles and shocking twists.

Game of Thrones has taken the world by storm, introducing its army of fans to a dark world of fantasy, but did you know that the show's main filming location is Northern Ireland?

The country known for its shipbuilding, linen industries, sweeping coastlines and its troubled past is one of the main stars of the show, creating the landscape and atmosphere of Westeros.

Following the launch of the fourth season earlier this month, we take a look at ten locations in Northern Ireland that have played a pivotal role in the hit show.

Warning: this article contains explicit and violent images as well as spoilers of major plot details from the first three seasons of the show.

Cairncastle

Picture: Jill Castle

Hidden in County Antrim, this idyllic location was initially used for a scene in the show's first episode where Ned Stark beheads the Night's Watch deserter in front of Bran and Robb Stark, Theon Greyjoy and Jon Snow.

Picture: HBO

Since then Castlecairn has appeared twice more as the location where Catelyn Stark captures Tyrion Lannister in season one and as the background to Bran, Rikon, Osha and Hodor's escape north following the ransacking of Winterfell by Theon Greyjoy and the Iron Islanders.

Cushendun Caves

Picture: Jill Castle

Providing the backdrop to one of series two's most crucial scenes, this location in County Antrim doubled as the cave where Davos Seaworth took Lady Melisandre, on the orders of Stannis Baratheon, to have the shadow baby.

Picture: Wikipedia

The unnatural being then went on to kill Renly Baratheon, Stannis' brother and rival for the Iron Throne.

The Dark Hedges

Picture: Jill Castle

Nestled out of sight on Bregagh Road, this natural phenomena, formed by beech trees, was used for the scene of Arya Stark's escape from King's Landing following the beheading of her father, Ned Stark, on the orders of King Joffrey.

Picture: HBO

Carrick-a-rede and Larrybane

Picture: Jill Castle

Better known for its rope bridge, this former limestone quarry in Ballintoy, County Antrim is used to represent parts of the Stormlands in Game of Thrones and was the location for the scene in season two where Brienne of Tarth beats Ser Loras to win her place in Renly's Kingsguard.

Picture: Wikipedia

Ballintoy

Picture: Jill Castle

This picturesque working harbour in the small village of Ballintoy, County Antrim doubles as the Iron Island's Lordsport Harbour and is the location for the scene of Theon Greyjoy's homecoming in season two.

Picture: Wikipedia

Dunseverick

Picture: Jill Castle

Situated near the village of Dunseverick and the Giant's Causeway, this location was used during the stand-off between Renly and Stannis Baratheon as they discussed their claims to the Iron Throne.

Picture: HBO

The confrontation started a chain of events that led to the death of Renly, who was killed in his tent by Lady Mellisandre's shadow baby. His death was witnessed by Lady Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth.

Downhill Beach

Picture: Jill Castle

This beach in Coleraine is the location for the Lord of Light ceremony, conducted by Lady Melisandre, during which effiges of the seven Gods of Westeros are burned in front of Stannis Baratheon and supporters of his claim to the Iron Throne.

Picture: Wikipedia

During the scene Stannis pulls a flaming sword from one of the effiges and says "because the night is dark and full of terrors", a line that has become a favourite amongst fans of the show.

Castle Ward

Picture: Jill Castle

This estate in County Down is home to some of the most iconic locations used in Game of Thrones. At least nine locations in the estate have been used in the show since filming began in 2009. The Castle Ward courtyard doubles for Winterfell, home of the Starks, in the show, while Baelor's Battle and scenes featuring the Stark and Lannisters camps were also filmed here.

Picture: Wikipedia

The banks of the Quoile River, which runs through part of the estate, have appeared several times in the show as the location of The Twins, home of Walder Frey, while the scene where Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth find three women hanging from a tree was also shot in the grounds.

Picture: Jill Castle

Picture: Wikipedia

For fans who are keen to explore the estate, tours organised by Clearsky Adventures are available. The Winterfell Day Tour gives fans the chance to take a cycle around the locations and try their hand at archery in the range where Jon Snow tried to teach Bran how to shoot. Visit the Winterfell Day Tour website for more details.

Tollymore Forest Park

Picture: Jill Castle

Hidden on a hillside near the town of Newcastle, this scenic forest was the location for the first sighting of the White Walkers in Season One and the discovery of the dire wolf pups.

Picture: HBO

Titanic Studios

Picture: Jill Castle

Situated in the heart of Belfast, these studios have been the scene of some of the most shocking, intriguing and important scenes filmed for Game of Thrones, including the red wedding. They also house the Iron Throne.

Picture: HBO

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