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I've recently got a copy of The World of Ice and Fire and although I haven't had the time to read it yet I have had a quick flick through. One thing I've noticed that seems odd is that the castles of Casterly Rock and Highgarden seem to have been swapped for the show. The following are the castles from A Song of Ice and Fire as depicted in The World of Ice and Fire (Highgarden left, Casterly Rock right).

Highgarden - A Song of Ice and Fire Casterly Rock - A Song of Ice and Fire

The following are the same as depicted in Game of Thrones (Highgarden left, Casterly Rock right).

Highgarden - Game of Thrones Casterly Rock - Game of Thrones

As you can see the show's Casterly Rock looks very similar to the books Highgarden but just on the edge of a cliff instead of in a garden area. Whereas the show's Highgarden looks like a much more scaled down version of the books Casterly Rock.

The Season 7 DVD/Bluray has a bonus section called "From Imagination to Reality: Inside the Art Department" which is commented on by the art department but mainly by Production Designer Deborah Riley. I've had a skim through it and it doesn't really comment on why they chose the sets beyond it's what they imagined them to be like. If anyone is wondering both sets are real castles in Spain with Highgarden being "Castillo de Almodovar" and Casterly Rock being "The Castle of Trujillo".

Have there been any comments on why this change was made by D&D, GRRM, Bryan or anyone who was involved in the process?

  • 1
    Because the Castle of Trujillo was the only one in good shape they could get that’s along the coast, large and in good shape? While the Castillo de Almodovar proved a nearby neighbour with similar geography to Highgarden? – Edlothiad Dec 29 '17 at 14:23
  • 2
    I’d made the above comment before looking up the castles and it seems the Castle of Trujillo looks nothing like the one image above and I’d hazard a guess that only the inner shots of the Castle were of The Castle of Trujillo. – Edlothiad Dec 29 '17 at 14:28
  • @Edlothiad I haven't actually looked up the real castles either was only comparing the final shots. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 29 '17 at 14:31
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Honestly, they don't really seem swapped to me.

You must keep in mind that both the pictures on The World of Ice and Fire and the show depictions are just that, depictions, not "photographs".

There are some factors that should be taken into account:

  • For the book depictions, the art is by Ted Nasmith, a really skilled artist when it comes to represent landscapes, locations and architectural features; you can check for example also his works for the Tolkien Legendarium, his depictions of the various Middle-Earth places are easily the most accurate and the most faithful to the author descriptions, and the same thing can be said for his work about A Song of Ice and Fire; despite that, there is always a component of personal interpretation, taste and will to leave a personal touch by the artist.

  • For the show depictions, the same thing can be held true, but you must also consider that there is an additional problem to overcome: you must find in the real world some places that actually resemble the fictional locations of the books. I suppose that having a real place to shot, and making some CGI modifications in post-production, is easier and cheaper than having to entirely build CGI locations; considering that there are place that you have to entirely build from scratch without using real life locations (think about The Wall or Braavos, in example), using existing places for locations that are less impressive and distinctive means administrating your budget. And nor Casterly Rock or Highgarden are main locations in the show, so it is understandable that the greatest efforts were not put into them.

  • For the show locations, you have to pick places that are resembling the fictional locations, that are suitable, that don't have that many modern features, that are placed in the right climate, you must obtain the permissions to shot there... well, one does not simply walk into Mordor. The show locations could thus never be as accurate as a painting, drawing, or another artist's impression, you have to face real life issues and take into account reality.


Highgarden

Highgarden is surrounded by three rings of white stone whose walls increase in height. Between the outer and middle walls is a famous briar labyrinth which serves to entertain as well as slow invaders. The oldest towers, squat and square, from the Age of Heroes. Newer towers are tall and slender, round fortifications dating from after the Andal invasion.

Also within Highgarden's walls are groves, fountains, and courtyards. The sept is matched only by the Great Sept of Baelor and the Starry Sept. The castle's godswood contains three weirwoods known as the Three Singers. The palatial keep is decorated with statues and colonnades. The castle's structures are covered in ivy, grapes, and climbing roses.

Highgarden is filled with flowers, singers, pipers, fiddlers and harpers. The stables have a fine selection of horseflesh, and there are pleasure boats to sail along the Mander. There are fields of golden roses that stretch as far as the eye can see. Fruits grown nearby include melons, peaches, and fireplums.

from A Wiki of Ice and Fire

Nasmiht's illustration from The World of Ice and Fire is perfectly matching the book description. The chosen location for the show, the castle of Almodovar del Rio, honestly, seems to me a very fitting location for Highgarden (without having anything that could resemble Casterly Rock); check this image of the castle (and the whole gallery on wikimedia), it really looks like Nasmith's illustration:

enter image description here


Casterly Rock

Casterly Rock is carved out of a great stone hill colossal rock beside the Sunset Sea. It is popularly believed to resemble a lion in repose at sunset.

The Casterlys of antiquity built a ringfort on the peak, and as millenia have passed its natural defenses have been expanded with walls, gates, and watchtowers. The base of the Rock contains large sea-carved caverns. The stone has been mined for thousands of years, so there are hundreds of mineshafts in the depths of the Rock, as well as yet untouched gold veins.

The Rock has been measured at three times the height of the Wall or the Hightower of Oldtown. It is almost two leagues long from west to east, and contains tunnels, dungeons, storerooms, barracks, halls, stables, stairways, courtyards, balconies, and gardens. In the bowels of the Rock are rooms where caged lions were once kept, and cells for the worst prisoners. The castle contains a sept.

from A Wiki of Ice and Fire

We know that G.R.R. Martin inspiration for Casterly Rock was the Rock of Gibraltar:

enter image description here

You can easily see that Nasmith's depiction is really resemblant to the real Rock (I especially love his addition of the two rock protrusions at the base, that look like a couple of lion's paws); the show's castle instead is a rather generic depiction of a castle over a cliff.

I don't really know the reasons of this choice, the most obvious solution would have been to shot at Gibraltar, or in a location that could be similar to it; considering, like I said, that Casterly Rock is not one of the main locations, maybe it was deemed not worthy to put too many resources into it; or maybe the plain look was done to avoid to create a too much magnificent location and prevent a "want for more" hype, for a place that we can see only a couple of times.

It certainly is rather unimpressive, maybe too much.

  • I’ve had to downvote because 1) you don’t really address the question just how the book locations match the books depictions. 2) you say they are show depiction s whereas that can’t be true they are clearly show canon. If I’ve misunderstood feel free to correct me but I don’t really see how you’ve answered the question. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 29 '18 at 11:59
  • The answer is that they don't look swapped to me. Almodovar castle looks like Nasmith's Highgarden, not Casterly Rock; and the show Casterly Rock certainly looks nothing like Nasmith's one, but it doesn't really resemble his Highgarden that much. Of course this is my view. – Sekhemty Jul 29 '18 at 12:02
  • The question in mainly about the castles not nessacarily the locations of them so I don’t see how they don’t look swapped. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 29 '18 at 21:26
  • Well, it is rather subjective to find similarities. They don't really look swapped to me. Maybe the show Casterly Rock castle has a some resemblance to the general shape of illustrator's Highgarden, but they are just walled citadels like many others; and I can't personally see how the show Highgarden could be similar to the illustrator's Casterly Rock, the whole location is different and even the castles don't share the same general look; like I said, Almodovar castle seems to me a rather fitting choice for Highgarden. – Sekhemty Jul 30 '18 at 7:16
  • The real location, sure, except the used CGI to change it into a plains rather than the real world location. Comparing to the real world location and the picture doesn't make sense when we have show versions to go off of. I also explained my reasoning at length in TQAT a while back, I'll see if I can find the conversation. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 30 '18 at 8:00

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