In July 2017, a staggering 75,000 tourists visited the spot, which is a 22% increase on the number of people who visited it last year. They climb its famous steps to the monastery and ring its bell three times for good luck.
However, some Game of Thrones fans have opted to “bend the knee” at the monastery door instead of ringing the bell!
An impressive 241 steps lead up to the historic monastery. The steps themselves aren’t quite as old as the monastery and date back to the 9th century.
Prior to the location featuring in Game of Thrones, visitors were able to enjoy a leisurely walk up to the monastery, which many visited as part of religious pilgrimages, but that’s no longer the case because the spot is so crowded.
This is a problem for the local tourist and conservation board, who are now considering charging people to visit in an attempt to cut numbers, or limiting the number who can visit each day as the sheer volume of people is putting a damaging amount of pressure on the ancient steps. So you might want to hold off paying Dragonstone a visit for now.
It’s completely understandable that the local tourism and conservation board want to preserve the site for future generations to enjoy. But it’s not the only Game of Thrones experience an influx of visitors after being featured.
This has also been the case at the real-life King’s Landing in Dubrovnik, Croatia and “The Wall” in Reykjavik, Iceland. Last year, Dubrovnik, Croatia was the Game of Thrones pilgrimage location of choice and prior to this it was Belfast, Ireland – where much of the show’s early seasons were filmed.
We look forward to seeing the role that Dragonstone plays in the show’s final season, especially now that Daenerys’ claim to her ancestral home has now been outweighed by the revelation that Jon Snow is her half brother.
I wonder what other gorgeous locations Game of Thrones will make famous next…