Five Years in Westeros
Checking back with the epic map inspired by Game of Thrones
When I was reading the Song of Ice and Fire series, the books from which Game of Thrones was adapted, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the sheer size of Westeros. Westeros is the continent on which its knight-bashing, skulduggery-dealing, capon-eating, winter-fearing action takes place. There’s a map of it in each book, but the scale is just mind-boggling. It’s 650 miles just from Castle Black to Winterfell, let alone all the way to King’s Landing (2110 miles). And they don’t even have cars!
If these names mean nothing to you, well, they will start to if you visit WesterosCraft. This vast map is one of Minecraft’s greatest building projects. It’s an attempt to build the entire continent, with every location from the books and associated maps, and it’s just hit its fifth birthday!
Highgarden and Oldtown are there; Storm’s End and Evenfall Hall; The Eyrie and Baelish Keep. Places where murdering and battles happen, and also places which are merely mentioned in passing. And then there’s the capital, King’s Landing, from where spider threads of feuding and deceit radiate. Every location has a deep and bloody history, and that comes through as you walk through WesterosCraft, too.
Now 70% complete, an incredible 295 individual builds are completed across the world. The world itself isn’t exactly to scale of the books, but I can forgive that. At 807 square kilometres it’s around the area of Los Angeles, comprising 22,000 by 59,000 blocks. Seriously. Take a look at its dynamic map to appreciate what they’ve achieved so far.
I talked to project manager Jacob Granberry about some of the notable new builds, and he told me about what’s been going on. It’s extraordinary! Come take a tour with us.
Jacob: “King’s Landing is the capital of the Seven Kingdoms and the crown jewel of WesterosCraft. It was the first major build on our server back in 2011; it had roughly 500 houses then but it was eventually rebuilt again with roughly 2000 houses. After we made a custom texture pack, we rebuilt it AGAIN and just completed the city in 2016, and this time we counted how many houses exactly: 4,788 unique houses, all built by hand and that only includes what’s inside the city. There are many more outside the walls that are being rebuilt. Major landmarks include the Great Sept of Baelor, the Dragonpit, Flea Bottom and the Red Keep. The Red Keep is still under construction, but we hope to be finished in a few month’s time. King’s Landing has its own sewer system and over 20,000 Minecraft beds.”
Jacob: “Griffin’s Roost is a castle located in the Stormlands, a region of Westeros. The castle was built on a tall crag connected to the mainland by a natural ridge. There is also a small fishing village located in the bay west of the castle. This build has a troubled history on our server and has been rebuilt four times. After many iterations it was finally completed with our custom texture pack in mind. The town was mostly made by one person, improvised, in about two weeks. The build was inspired directly from the Song of Ice and Fire novels and the previous version.”
Jacob: “This project was led by server member TheYoungWolf. The main inspiration for the castle was Strahlenburg Castle in Schriesheim, Germany, though the project took some turns during its progress. The lands surround Yarwyck, especially the coastline, was inspired by real life Italian coast lines.”
Jacob: “Sandstone is a castle located in the desert area known as Dorne. Wadi Rum in Jordan was an inspiration for the terraforming and mesas surrounding the build. Aït Benhaddou in Morocco was used as inspiration for the castle’s architectural style.”
The team has about 100 builds to go until WesterosCraft is complete. And then after that? Well, the ultimate aim is to use the world for a massive online RPG called A Game of Blocks, in which players vie for supremacy against each other, taking different roles dependent on status: PVE questing in the world as a commoner, PVP battling as a kinsman, and managing the politics and economics of a whole region as a warden. Ambitious! But with the creation of a whole continent behind them, what can stop them, right?
You can make your own visit to Westeros right now. You’ll need to grab the WesterosCraft custom launcher – follow the guide here!