Game Of Thrones Tourism is real and great for local economies, but it can get out of hand! An iconic filming location has become a tourism mecca for fans of the TV series, changing the focus of a long-standing religious shrine, from John the Baptist to Jon Snow!
The holy sight is the San Juan de Gaztelugatxe Church in the Basque region of Spain, which was used as one of the locations for Dragonstone in Game of Thrones. At least 75,000 people visited the site and climbed its steps in July alone, which rounds out to over 2,400 people per day. The local government has welcomed the increase in tourists, but now they are trying to find a way of working out a balance with Game of Thrones tourism, and preserving the 9th century religious site. That might include limiting the number of tourists and transportation or charging a fee to access the 241 steps that lead to a monastery for John the Baptist, who’s believed to have once visited the island—though it’s never been proven.
Image sources: HBO/Game of Thrones, https://www.flickr.com/photos/kieronroberts/7387566916/