The HBO series Game of Thrones and the book series it's from, A Song of Ice and Fire, offer no examples or suggestions that the world is set in a hollow world. But the television show's opening credits strongly suggest this very thing. Has there been an official word about the shape of the Song of Ice and Fire world?

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    The opening credits also suggest that the world is a cyberpunk machine with buildings that pop up out of nowhere, and with names of places written in the dirt in huge lettering. I wouldn't take it too literally! Jul 5, 2016 at 18:52

12 Answers 12


It is not hollow, it is round just as our world. For example note the sunset in episode 1. The books also makes it clear later that the world is round since people take ship voyages around it.

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    I don't see how taking a ship is impossible on anything not round, could you explain, maybe I'm missing something?
    – jv42
    May 16, 2011 at 11:07
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    @jv42 - I believe Lars meant trips around the world, not just from point A to point B
    – Justin C
    May 16, 2011 at 15:13
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    One could still take a ship voyage 'around' a hollow world. May 21, 2011 at 15:37
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    @Lars - where is it mentioned that people travel in ships around the world? The Ironborn almost never leave the coastline, so I was wondering.
    – Till B
    Jan 18, 2012 at 21:06
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    While I do believe the world of A Song of Ice and Fire is round, and that the intro of the TV series is just a stylistic choice, this answer is mostly unsupported. Maybe the evidence of the sunset is enough, but the rest isn't: one can easily take "round the world" voyages in a hollow world; and there is no indication any character has done so anyway.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 2, 2013 at 15:29

The opening credits appear to picture a world on the inside of a sphere. This is a deliberate visual effect. The initial intent was to show a map, but this was too flat: the camera angles would have had to be severely restricted in order not to pan beyond the edge of the world.

In the beginning, it was very simple, nothing animating and everything very flat. One of the things we realized early on was that you couldn’t really tilt the camera up very far because it raised the question, what’s beyond the map? (…) The fact that I wanted to be able to move the camera anywhere led us to the fact that this whole world had to exist on the inside of a sphere, which took us a while to figure out. (…) If you have a whole world inside a sphere, what would be in the middle of that sphere? The sun! Or whatever the light source of this world is.

(Information and quotations from an interview with Angus Wall, title designer for GoT, at Art of the Title Sequence. For more information on the title sequence, see also Does the intro sequence to the Game of Thrones TV series have any meaning?)

So there you have it: the hollow world aspect came about specifically for the title sequence. It's not implied by the books (nor by the rest of the series). By all appearances, the world of ASoIaF/GoT is a quasi-spherical planet revolving around a star (albeit with seasons that have no astronomical explanation).

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    This should really be marked as the correct answer. Well done, Gilles. Jun 14, 2013 at 3:14
  • If you have a world that is hollow with a sun in the middle, read about Dyson Sphere.
    – sksamuel
    May 17, 2014 at 9:24
  • @monkjack: Actually that would be a Dyson Shell. Jul 5, 2016 at 18:54
  • A dyson sphere is a dyson shell
    – sksamuel
    Jul 5, 2016 at 23:35
  • @monkjack: A Dyson Shell is a Dyson Sphere; the converse is not necessarily true (there are other kinds of Dyson Spheres). And if you don't use @username I don't get notified about your reply. Feb 12, 2018 at 0:51

The Game of Thrones opening credits also imply that all the cities and castles come out of the earth on some gear and ratchet mechanism. So I wouldn't take it too seriously.

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    I am pretty sure thats how it happened
    – Sydenam
    Sep 25, 2011 at 18:03
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    I would upvote this if it were a comment...
    – DCShannon
    Jan 12, 2016 at 1:33

Nope. It's not hollow. That impression from the opening credits results from the camera angle, which was pretty much necessary to make it work. However since the opening credits portray all the cities and keeps as clockwork machines, one can safely say the opening credits were intended to show a visually interesting "animated" map of the world rather than to be a 100% accurate rendition of the geography.

The content of both the books and the show implies a world much like our own, albeit with a very weird climate. But keep in mind while the scifi genre may concern itself with (pseudo-)scientific explanations for in-world phenomena, the fantasy genre generally does not.

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    Not just clockwork and animated, but also like a board game...*Game* of Thrones. Jun 14, 2013 at 3:16

No it's not a hollow world.

It is a round planet as per Author's words which is larger than our world and more akin to Tolkien's secondary world. It's Earth, but it is not our Earth. And since our Earth isn't hollow, neither is Planetos.

GRRM has answered the question about what exactly is the World set in ASOIAF:

This may be a silly question, but: When you think of the world you’ve created, where seasons last for years, where is it? It is another planet?

It’s what Tolkien wrote was “the secondary world.” It’s not another planet. It’s Earth. But it’s not our Earth. If you wanted to do a science fiction approach, you could call it an alternate world, but that sounds too science fictional. Tolkien really pioneered that with Middle Earth. He put in some vague things about tying it to our past, but that doesn’t really hold up. I have people constantly writing me with science fiction theories about the seasons — “It’s a double star system with a black dwarf and that would explain–” It’s fantasy, man, it’s magic.

and from SSM:

3) Is your world round. I mean if Dany traveled far enough east couldnt she come to the other side of westeros?

Yes, the world is round. Might be a little larger than ours, though. I was thinking more like Vance's Big Planet.... but don't hold me to that.

Also note that the planet has been referred to as earth in the books, but there are grammatical differences between Earth and earth.

On size of the most famous continents, if you are interested, George R.R. Martin has compared Westeros to South America and Essos to Eurasia . He said:

I will post the dates and times of my signing tour in the "touring" thread uptopic. Thanks for asking.

As for your other questions (boy, you folks are relentless), I don't have the precise population of King's Landing on[sic] the exact area of Westeros immediately on hand.

In very general terms, however... King's Landing is more populous than medieval London or Paris, but not so populous as medieval Constantinople or ancient Rome.

Some readers have likened Westeros to England because they see some general similarities in its shape, and in its location off the west coast of a larger landmass. The latter is true enough (I don't see the former, myself), but Westeros is much much MUCH bigger than Britain. More the size (though not the shape, obviosuly) of South America, I'd say.

The other continent is bigger (Essos), Eurasia size.

Yes, a league is three miles.

So in conclusion:

  1. It is Earth but it isn't our Earth.
  2. The Planet is round.
  3. It is a little larger than our world.
  4. The continent of Westeros is the size of South America while Essos is the size of Eurasia.

In addition to what others have mentioned, there's also the little problem that inside a uniform spherical shell, there's no net gravitational force.

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    Yes, but ASoIaF's is a world of magic anyway (as hinted by the author about its seasons), so I wouldn't rely on real-world physics too much ;)
    – Andres F.
    Apr 2, 2013 at 15:32
  • No net gravitational force for a still sphere, but if it rotated then you'd get a net "force". Although things would float in the northron/southron extremities... Jun 29, 2015 at 20:33

On Earth, it is said if you go far enough north you will eventually be going south, but if you travel west you will always be heading west. So the riddle does suggest they are on an inner planet. But at the same time it is mentioned that once there were 2 moons and one still exists and there is a day/night cycle which shows it can't be an inner world. I do, however, like the idea of them living on a ringed planet as nothing is impossible, This could be correct - the irregularity of the seasons is something I find fascinating. If they live on a planet with an inconsistent tilt or an off-balance swaying planet that would explain the odd seasons


If you go to the website of the author of the book series, George RR Martin, you'll find he seems to have a hobby for small toy soldiers and toy castles and such. My guess is that someone at HBO noticed this and decided that a simple machine approach to this might look nice. I get the impression that GRRM may have even had a significant impact on the direction of the show and may have had something to do with this.

That being said, this is only conjecture.

George RR Martin website


There is only the one shot that implies a 'hollow world' and that is the one looking west at Westeros as the camera pans across Vaes Dothrak. I took that more to be curling up of the edge of a flat map rather than indication of an inverted sphere. What I do like about that shot is the more 'natural' S-shaped look of the continent of Westeros, rather than the oblong sheet-of-paper-shaped maps in Martin's books.


In a world full of magic forces it's possible to have a concave world and still have gravity... Being a round world it doesn't matter if you're at the inside surface or the outside surface, you would still be able to travel "around" the world.

Maybe it's just a way to show the map, maybe they're really inside the blue eye of Macumber (http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Macumber)


I'd be more inclined to believe that it's some sort of ring world.

  • The map is fairly vertical and little or no mention is made in the books of any continents to the east or west.
  • If there are multiple rings (as in the HBO series logo) this could go a long way towards explaining the irregularity of the seasons.

On the other hand, I don't recall the specific details of the voyages around the world mentioned in Lars's answer (I've just started rereading the books).

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    There is specifically a continent to the East that is known to be larger than Westeros. That is where the entire Daenerys plotline occurs.
    – StrixVaria
    May 25, 2011 at 12:30
  • Some of the newer maps (fan made and official) show Essos to be gigantic compared to Westeros.
    – riv_rec
    Jun 29, 2011 at 14:41

I believe GRRM told the HBO intro producers that the world is on the inside of a sphere. This would explain a number of things in the books/series. The biggest push for me is the mentioning of the Shadow Realm. The woman in Quarth gives a riddle like "To go to the north you must go south. to go to the west you must go east". This strange riddle maybe an insight to the differences in physics if the world was on the inside of a sphere. Another thing to point out is that Mormont tell's Dany about the Dothraki belief that in the Shadow Realm, there is "Ghost grass" which would one day to over the world. She then shivers and says "I don't want to talk about it." This is down to interpretation, but it would make sense if the ghost grass is snow, fitting in with the theme - winter is coming. The ghost grass is coming from the shadow realm, which is in the south west. If the world is on the inside of a sphere, this could mean that the shadow realm is actually the north of The North above the wall, which would be north east. In other words - if you were to travel north of the wall, and slightly west - you'd end up which could be regarded as the south east of the world, in another part of the north called shadow realm, which you could cross the sea to the east and get to asshei(?) which is in Essos.

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    You know, by going west on earth, you can end up in the same place as if you were going east. So i dont see how the "to go west you must go east" part imply that the world is hollow. It implies that the world is round however, but it says nothing on which side of the sphere everything is (inside or outside..)
    – Jakob
    Jul 18, 2013 at 11:13

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