How A New 'Game Of Thrones' Filming Location Could Confirm A Popular Fan Theory

Even before the big cliffhanger at the end of Season 5, Jon Snow was the subject of one of Game of Thrones' most enduring fan theories. Now some new shooting and casting info suggests we could finally get confirmation on said theory in the upcoming sixth season. Hit the jump to find out what it means for the show (and be warned that spoilers follow). 

What's the theory?

In Season 5, Game of Thrones viewers were introduced to the popular theory known as R+L=J. (Eagle-eyed viewers may have started to put the pieces together before that, but Season 5 was when it really came to the forefront.) Put simply, it posits that Jon Snow is not the bastard son of dearly departed Ned Stark, but is in fact the bastard son of Ned's late sister Lyanna Stark and Daenerys' late brother Rhaegar Targaryen.

As far as many Game of Thrones characters know, Rhaegar abducted Lyanna and absconded with her to the Tower of Joy. Ned and several other men went to the Tower of Joy to get her back, and found it guarded by several Kingsguard members including Ser Arthur Dayne (more about him later). Only two men survive the resulting skirmish, Ned and Howland Reed (dad of Meera and Jojen).

By the time Ned reaches his sister inside the tower, she's already dying. Before she passes, however, she gets him to promise her something. What he promised her is still unclear, but many speculate that she wanted Ned to protect Jon Snow's true identity as her and Rhaegar's son. In the books, Ned recalls this entire scenario while drugged up.

Is this the Game of Thrones Tower of Joy location?

According to Movistar (via Buzzfeed), HBO has confirmed Game of Thrones Season 6 will shoot at the Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain. Here's what it looks like. Fans have noticed the tall, narrow structure bears a resemblance to the Tower of Joy from the books, though it should be noted that the Tower of Joy is described as round while the Castillo de Zafra is more rectangular.

On the other hand, the Tower of Joy is located in Dorne and Spain serves as a stand-in for Dorne on the show. It's also worth pointing out that in the books, the Tower of Joy was torn down long before the events of Season / Book 1. If this is indeed the Tower of Joy, it's likely we'll see it in a flashback, as opposed to a present-day scene.


Click ahead to the next page for the second major piece of the Game of Thrones Tower of Joy theory, plus a discussion at what it could mean for the show and Jon Snow's fate.

Game of Thrones - Kit Harington as Jon SnowWill we finally meet Arthur Dayne?

Still, the Castillo de Zafra shooting location wouldn't be a big deal by itself. But a few weeks ago, word also got around that Game of Thrones was looking to cast an unnamed "legendary fighter" for the upcoming season. The character is described as follows, according to Watchers on the Wall:

A man in his thirties or forties who is a great swordsman and a paragon of knighthood. He carries a hugely famous sword on his back.  The show is seeking a very impressive swordsman for the role- the best in Europe, for a week of filming fight scenes for a season 6 role. His ethnicity/race isn't specified, unlike many other roles.

This mysterious figure sounds a lot like the aforementioned Arthur Dayne, also known as the "Sword of the Morning" because he carries an ancient sword called Dawn. He was a Kingsguard knight under the Mad King, and one of Rhaegar Targaryen's closest friends. Until he met his end at the Tower of Joy, he was considered one of the greatest warriors in the Seven Kingdoms.

What does it all mean?

For the first four seasons Game of Thrones resisted using flashbacks, relying on spoken exposition (and sexposition) to establish the world's history. But as established by the brief glimpse of a teenaged Cersei seen at the start of Season 5, flashbacks are no longer out of the question.

It sure looks like Game of Thrones is getting the pieces together for a Tower of Joy scene, and there's not much point in getting into all that history unless it reveals something crucial about the present. Like, perhaps, the true parentage of Jon Snow — a mystery that's been hanging over the series since early Season 1.

To stretch the theory a bit further: If we're in for a Tower of Joy flashback, it also suggests Jon Snow will resurface in one way or another. Pretty much everyone involved with that incident is dead: Rhaegar, Lyanna, Ned, Arthur, even Robert (who wasn't there, but was tangentially linked). The only confirmed survivor is Howland, who is such a minor character he hasn't even been seen on the show.

Unless, that is, Jon was there being born. And if Jon were really and truly dead, the show would have no reason to dig into the circumstances of his birth. His lineage isn't directly relevant to any other character. He has no heirs, and his parental figures (Ned, Cat, possibly Rhaegar and Lyanna) are all dead.

How and when Jon might return remains an open question. And admittedly, all this Tower of Joy speculation is just that — speculation. Season 6 is expected to push into new territory not yet explored in the books, so maybe this is all setting up an entirely new scenario. But those keeping track might count this as a point for the Jon Snow truthers out there.