Game of Thrones fans threaten Spanish heritage site

Game of Thrones
SAN JUAN DE GAZTELUGATXE: Until this summer the site only attracted a small number of religious visitors Photo credit Eusko Guide

SPANISH tourism authorities have been left worried for the welfare of a heritage site called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in the country’s Basque region after 75,000 tourists have visited its staircase, which was used to film the Game of Thrones’s Dragonstone scenes. 

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe’s winding steps frequently provided a backdrop in the series but until this summer, the site drew attention only from a small number of religious visitors.

The Spanish press have now reported that during July, approximately 2,500 tourists descended on the site each day.

Local tradition dictates that visitors must ring a bell that hangs above the church three times and make a wish, as a reward for climbing the steps. But the bell-ringing has become a problem and officials are worried about the damage that the site could suffer.

They are now discussing limiting the number of tourists allowed to visit the site and charging visitors to climb the steps.

It’s not the first instance of Game of Thrones induced tourism threatening a historic area. In 2016, the ancient city of Dubrovnik, which provided the backdrop for Kings Landing in the show, saw record numbers of tourists.

Just this week, the mayor of Dubrovnik revealed he was planning to cap the number of visitors to stop crowding.

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