Netflix’s The Witcher goes all out. The lore of the mythological adventure saga, its action sequences, and perhaps most of all, it’s scenery. For a story of its scale, of course the backdrop is equally tremendous.
Just like the story, the locations used are spread far and wide. Filming for The Witcher took place predominantly in Spain, specifically the Canary Islands, Hungary, and Poland. The show utilizes a good deal of CGI, but we can’t imagine certain scenes without the grand landscapes and castles.
Filming portions of the show in Poland gives it a chance to showcase the historic architecture and landscape, and is also a nod to the author of the books on which series is based. The Witcher series was written by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, who grew up only a couple hours away from where the TV show filmed some of its more wintery scenes.
One of those locations is Ogrodzieniec Castle near Kraków. It is used for the Battle of Sodden in the final episode. The mountainous medieval castle served many rulers since it was first built in the 12th century. Ogrodzieniec Castle is part of a string of castles and watchtowers resembling eagles’ nests along the sides of the hills known as Trail of the Eagles’ Nests. A number of noble families and residents lived at the castle over the years, however the final tenants left in 1810. In 1906, the historic ruins were purchased by the Polish Sightseeing Society with the intent to preserve the site so visitors could come by and see the impressive site for themselves.
To get the full Witcher experience, the Polish Tourism Organization recommends also checking out the Crane in Gdańsk, the painted village in Zalipie, and the windmills in Wielkopolski Ethnographic Park which served as inspiration for the show as well as design references for the video game.
Ogrodzieniec isn’t the only real-life castle used in The Witcher. The exteriors of Vizima, the abandoned castle in Temeria from episode 3 were filmed at Kreuzenstein Castle in Leobendorf, Austria which is a bit north of Vienna. Originally a medieval fortress, it was rebuilt in the 19th century. However, all of the interior shots were filmed in a studio in Budapest. Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest was used for the inner courtyard of the wizard Stregobor’s house. Tata Castle in Hungary was the location of Yennefer’s house in episode 5.
One fortress that wasn’t real, even though we wish it was so we could go visit, is Aretuza, the magical academy, aka The Witcher’s Hogwarts. The setting is shot in Roque de Santo Domingo in Garafia, a coastal islet off the coast of La Palma in the Canary Islands; however, the fortress is a work of computer-generated design. Once you take the ominous rocky fortress out of it, it looks like a pretty idyllic getaway.
Charlotte Brändström, director of The Witcher, is quite the location scouter. Before the release of the series, Brändström shared a handful of gorgeous shots while she and her team were out finding the perfect backdrops of the epic adventure.
Netflix confirmed a second season of The Witcher, and while people are guessing that its release will be sometime in the first part of 2021, no one has guessed where they could be filming next. We’ll just have to keep an eye out on Brändström’s Instagram for clues.