When Princess Rhaenyra decides to retreat to Dragonstone in the middle of House of the Dragon, it’s a wise strategic move. After all, this is the place where her dynasty got its start, and it gives her a legitimacy that her brothers lack.
It is, in fact, a very important location in Game of Thrones, and one that manages to be both imposing and starkly beautiful at the same time. However, there is much about this particular location that is largely left in the background of the series, though it is elaborately on more fully in the books that George RR Martin has published.
10/10 It Was Colonized By Valyria
There’s a very good reason that Dragonstone has come to be associated with Targaryen power. It was, in fact, colonized by Valyria itself before it fell to the Doom. In fact, it was the westernmost outpost of their power.
As such, there has always been something imposing and fearsome and even alien about it, which helps to explain why it has always loomed large in the imagination of Westeros. What’s more, the fact that it has so long been under Valyrian control helps to explain why it proved so crucial to generations of Targaryens.
9/10 It Commands Relatively Few Houses, Despite Its Formidable Reputation
Though there are many powerful houses in Westeros, relatively few of these make their home on Dragonstone. This is a sharp distinction to many of the other regions of Westeros, which typically have at least a few major houses that call it home (this is true, for example, of the largely desolate North).
Thus, it’s important to note that its value is largely symbolic. It means something to both the Targaryens and the other residents of Westeros, whatever its relative paucity in terms of armed strength.
8/10 It Was Built Using Sorcery
As with many of the other major castles in Game of Thrones, there is more to Dragonstone than meets the eye. Though it appears to be like any other similar fortification in Westeros, the truth is that it was built, at least in part, using the sorcery for which the Valyrians were so (in)famous.
This goes a long way toward explaining why it is that it would continue to have such a fearsome reputation. Even after magic seems to vanish–largely with the death of the last dragons–there is still something of it that lives on in Dragonstone.
7/10 It Was Settled By Aenar Targaryen
Though Dragonstone had long been an abode for Valyrians, it wasn’t until Aenar Targaryen that it became associated with a particular house. Aenar Targaryen was the first member of his family to dwell there, and his decision to move there was motivated by the prophetic vision of his daughter.
It was fortunate that he did so, for the Doom of Valyria occurred a little more than a decade after his move. In the subsequent generations, his family would become even more entrenched on the island, a reminder and a relic of a vanished civilization.
6/10 Balerion Was For A Time The Only Dragon On Dragonstone
The dragons are, of course, key to the success of the Targaryens. Ironically, there was a time when Balerion was the only dragon living on the island, as the others had perished. Given the enormous role that this particular dragon would come to play in the history of Westeros, it is rather staggering to think about the presence he would have possessed.
What’s more, it is also a reminder that dragons are not immortal and that, as the Targaryens will find to their cost, their loss can be very damaging, indeed.
5/10 The Heir Was Known As Prince Of Dragonstone
Much as the Prince of Wales is the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom, so the heir to the Iron Throne is known as the Prince of Dragonstone. In fact, it is a significant moment when a given Targaryen is appointed this title, which is why Daemon seems to yearn for it so desperately.
The braiding together of a political office and a specific location says a great deal about how the Targaryens view themselves. In their mind, it is of central importance to their entire dynasty’s way of looking at itself.
4/10 It Was Considered Too Gloomy By Some Targaryens
Despite its importance to the family as a whole, it has to be said that not every Targaryen was overly fond of this particular location. Prince Daeron, among others, really did not like spending time there. In fact, he was so opposed to it that he eventually came to favor the title Prince of Summerhall rather than Dragonstone.
It’s easy to see why he would believe this, considering just how formidable this particular location was. At the same time, it would soon reassert its centrality, and Robert Baratheon bestowed it on Stannis after his victory.
3/10 Aerys Tried To Hatch Dragon Eggs From Dragonstone
Aerys II, one of the Game of Thrones characters who sat on the Iron Throne, was known for his unfortunate madness. Among other things, he was desperate to reclaim the dragons that had so long ago gone extinct.
In fact, he discovered some eggs hidden in the bowels of the castle that he thought to bring back to life. Ultimately, of course, his efforts were unsuccessful. In the end, even his own son, Rhaegar abandoned him, and he took Dragonstone as his primary abode.
2/10 Dragon Eggs Were Said To Hatch Better There
There are many important elements of dragon lore. Among other things, it was often said that dragon eggs would hatch better if they were brought to Dragonstone. Though it is unclear why this might be the case, evidence suggests this is more than just a wife’s tale.
This is yet another reason why so many Targaryens saw it as a vital thing to possess. This is particularly true for Rhaenyra, who knows she will need to have it in order to attain victory in the Dance of the Dragons.
1/10 It Has Decorations In The Forms Of Various Magical Beasts
Part of what makes Dragonstone such a beautiful yet haunting place is its decoration. Though the dragons are obviously a key part of the decor–as can be seen in both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon–there are many other terrifying beasts that make their appearance throughout its halls.
Among others, these include manticores, basilisks, wyverns, and hellhounds. It’s thus easy to see why so many people, including some members of House Targaryen itself, would find this such an intimidating place to inhabit.
NEXT: The Targaryens, Ranked From Most Heroic To Most Villainous