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How They Made That Model of Old Valyria in House of the Dragon

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HBO’s House of the Dragon is a vast, detail-rich production which returns Game of Thrones fans to many settings that they’ll find familiar. But in addition to rebuilding sets like King’s Landing and Dragonstone, the House of the Dragon team also gave viewers a glimpse of Old Valyria, the long-gone homeland of the Targaryens, in the form of the model city which takes up an increasing amount of King Viserys’ palace quarters.

“Viserys is not into dragon riding, he takes a more intellectual pursuit,” says executive producer Ryan J. Condal in a new behind-the-scenes video. “The idea is that he’s gone back to all the old texts and maps, and has painstakingly recreated it.”

Paddy Considine, who plays Viserys, compared the vast model to a train set. “It’s a little hobby that he has there, that he escapes to,” he says.

“We latched onto pumice stone,” says production designer Jim Clay, “which is a much softer, volcanic stone, and ties into Dragonstone and Dragonmont and the volcanic nature of that island.”

The model consists of more than 200 separate miniature buildings. Many of the pieces were 3D-printed over a period of about two months, with just one building taking at least 24 hours to be printed, while other smaller components were sculpted by hand, and then given a pumice-like finish.

In addition to being a visually arresting prop, the model city also serves as a narrative device for King Viserys, with his imagined homeland getting larger and more elaborate over the years as his health and grip on the throne decline, until at the end the more recent additions are rougher-looking, and it is covered in cobwebs.

“It’s an integral part of our story,” says showrunner Miguel Sapochnik. “Although Viserys is very much a progressive Targaryen, he yearns for the Valyria of old, looking in some way to understand something that he can never quite grasp.”

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