Four days ago, something monumental happened. People put aside their differences all over the world, if only for just one hour, and came together—if only through their televisions—to watch one of the most anticipated shows of the year: The first episode of “Game of Thrones” season four. We’re all huge “GoT” fans here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, and we’ve been eagerly anticipating not just the show’s return, but the chance to evaluate a piece of property from it.
Which of the fantastical fictional locations did we pick? The Red Keep, of course. It’s big, it’s a pivotal location, and, besides, if season four is as unpredictable as the third, this place may well be on the market by the end of the month. How much for this Lion’s Lair? A bold $743,132,880—and that doesn’t even include the Iron Throne.
To find out how I came up with this un(new)godly number, read on; because of now, you know nothing (Jon Snow).
A Game Of Criteria
Whether I’m evaluating the Prime Minister’s home in Ireland or the Ice King’s Castle from “Adventure Time”, I always start out with the same criteria. So to find the value of the Red Keep, I first needed to know:
- The location
- The size
- Comparable properties
Finding the location of King’s Landing was like breezing through the third book; but when it came to finding the Red Keep’s size and comparable properties, well, let’s just say it was a bit more like getting through the fourth. More on that in a moment. For now, let’s check out the location of the Lannister’s (current) lair.
A Clash Of Countries
To find the location of the Red Keep, I first needed to determine just where in our world Westeros would be. Here’s what I kept in mind from the show and books:
- The North: Vast and sparsely populated; long, hard winters; nearly impossible to invade; one of the last regions to convert to the New Gods
- Iron Islands: Land of the Iron Born, a tough and rugged people; cold; does not support farming
- The Vale: Mountainous; The Fingers are along the sea (coastline)
- The Westerlands: Rich in mining (gold); divided from the rest of the continent (by hills)
- The Reach: Seems to be a very sensual country; the people love wine, flowers, and the beauty of life
- The Stormlands: A mountainous peninsula that sticks out into the sea; experiences constant storms
- Dorne: Tends to steer clear of controversy with the other countries; very hot; makes delicious wine
- The Riverlands: Many rivers and rich farming land
- The Crownlands: Rich, largely forested land; home to King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms and the largest and most important city in Westeros
With this in mind, and along with the help of several fellow “Game of Thrones” nerds online, I determined that Westeros is Europe. Specifically: The North is Russia, the Iron Islands are Scandinavia, The Vale is Switzerland (in the Alps), the Westerlands are the British Isles, the Reach is France (Highgarden being Paris), the Stormlands are along the coast of Croatia, Dorne is Spain, the Riverlands are the Rhineland of Western Germany, and, finally, the Crownlands are Italy.
A Storm Of Specifics
I knew that the Crownlands were Italy, but where is King’s Landing specifically? Here’s what I had to work with: King’s Landing is huge; according to George R. R. Martin, it’s “larger than Medieval London or Paris, but smaller than Medieval Constantinople.” It’s also described as being rather dirty compared to other cities, especially in the Flea Bottom area. It’s near the ocean and has a Mediterranean climate—in fact, in the show, many of the King’s Landing scenes are actually filmed in Malta (though I couldn’t use this location, as it is not nearly big or politically powerful enough in our world). I decided on Rome.
Not only does Rome fit all of the above criteria; it also includes St. Peter’s Basilica (i.e., the Great Sept of Baelor), the Via dei Capocci (i.e., the Street of Silk where you’ll find most of King’s Landing’s brothels), and the Porta Alchemica (i.e., the Guildhall of the Alchemists). Plus, Rome is popularly called the “City of Seven Hills,” where, in Ancient Rome, each of the seven hills had separate walled cities. King’s Landing is defined by its four hills—on one of which sits The Red Keep; it is surrounded by walls on all sides; and it is the capital of the Seven Kingdoms—the most sacred number in Westeros.
Like I said, finding the location for King’s Landing was a breeze—if, perhaps, a rather long-winded one. Now that we know its Roman location, just how big is it?
A Feast For Calculators
Finding the size of the Red Keep was no jaunt through the godswood—which, coincidentally, played an important role in finding the castle’s square footage. You see, King’s Landing is, well, huge.
Within its walls are the godswood, a large outdoor courtyard for tournaments, and then the castle itself is separated into several separate buildings, towers, and halls, including Maegor’s Holdfast, the Queen’s Ballroom, the Tower of the Hand, the Maidenvault, the White Sword Tower, Traitor’s Walk, the Dungeon, a vast network of secret passages, the Sept, the Rookery, and of course, the Great Hall, which one GOT buff estimated to be about 20,000 square feet on its own.
In re-watching several episodes (for research purposes, of course) and studying photos of the castle, one thing is clear: it’s a very tall castle—particularly clear in this photo; it simply towers over the city. This photo certainly helped put its dimensions into perspective, but it still didn’t quite give me all the information. No, what I needed was a map of the castle…
Fortunately, the crazy fans of “GoT” have made just that in “Westeros Craft”. I used this map to determine the castle’s overall square footage, using the godswood, which, according to the books and the key, is almost an acre large, to measure the entire area. It took about 10 of these one-acre goodswoods to cover the entire map of the castle (extending to the outer edges of the castle’s walls). That is approximately 10 acres total, or 435,600 square feet—which also adds up when you consider that the Great Hall/Throne Room is about 20,000 square feet. That’s just the square footage of the castle’s ground floor.
As I mentioned before, this is a very tall castle, with many different levels, so in order to find its total square footage, I needed to determine how many floors each of the towers, halls, and rooms had. Back to my trusty map, I calculated the square footage of each of the spaces individually; for example, according to the map’s legend, each of the large, outer towers has a diameter of about 50 meters (164 feet), and so has a square footage of 257—for one level.
In looking at this photo, though, each of the towers are various floors tall, getting progressively taller the closer they are to the water. The tower labeled 25 on the map, for example, looks to be about 24 stories tall, judging by the size of the windows and the large, main entrance to the castle, where the towers closer to the front are only about eight stories tall. So, for each 164-foot. diameter, 24-story tower, that’s an additional 5,911 square feet (23 floors in addition to the first), and for each eight-story tower, that’s an additional 1,799 square feet.
I did this for each tower and hall, using both the map and the photo of the castle. Many, many calculations and balled up scraps of paper later, I deduced that in addition to the base floor’s square feet, the castle’s sheer height added on approximately 214,560 square feet. That’s a total of 650,160 square feet; bigger than the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, one of the largest palaces in (our) world.
A Dance With Real Estate
The final step in finding the Red Keep’s price was to find some comparable properties and get an average price per square foot. While I didn’t exactly find many medieval castles for sale in the Rome area (I say “many” because I actually did find one), I did find several absolutely outrageously beautiful and luxurious villas and apartments for sale. After looking at the price per square foot for eight such luxury homes, I averaged them to get $1,143 per square foot (or about 9,000 euros per square meter).
The Iron Price
At $1,143 per square foot and with a size of 650,160 square feet, this lion’s lair will set you back a beastly $743,132,880, mostly due to the insanely high real estate prices in Rome. Let’s be real here: To take the king’s (extremely pointy) seat, you’ll need more than just gold; it’s more likely you’ll have to pay the iron price. After all, when you play the game of thrones, you win, or you die. Happy season four, everyone!