Harrenhal Has Traded Hands For Generations — Here's What to Know About it in 'House of the Dragon'

Harrenhal has a history that's led to its reputation of being haunted — but what happened before Daemon walked in?

Sara Belcher - Author

Jul. 1 2024, Published 7:00 p.m. ET

Matt Smith as Daemon in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO

This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 3, and Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin.

Harrenhal, the largest castle in all of Westeros, has officially been claimed for the blacks after Daemon's rogue solo visit to claim it for his queen. But when he walks into its halls, he finds the famed building in shambles, seemingly destroyed. It's an easy victory for Rhaenyra's cause, but what happened to Harrenhal before Daemon arrived?

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What happened to Harrenhal? Why the castle is considered cursed.

Anyone who paid attention to the gritty details of the world of Westeros shared in Game of Thrones may remember the many claims that Harrenhal was considered to be either haunted or cursed (or both). The founder of Harrenhal, King Harren Hoare, boasted about the great walls of the castle, claiming they were invincible to most opponents.

Unfortunately. dragons are not most opponents. King Aegon I set fire to the castle within the first day, torching King Harren and his sons.

Daemon creeping into Harrenhal
Source: HBO
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Harrenhal has traded hands a variety of times since, as it's a crucial piece in most war strategy, given it's the largest castle in the Riverlands. Even generations later, throughout the eight seasons of Game of Thrones, every leader to sit on its throne finds themselves an untimely end. This is also the location where Arya Stark laid low following the death of her father, meeting Jaqen H'ghar and falling captive to Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane.

Technically, Daemon's "assault" on Harrenhal was the first move in the Dance of the Dragons, though it was an easy claim for the blacks. Though Daemon walked in with his sword held high ready to fight to claim it in Rhaenyra's name, Ser Simon Strong bent the knee in alliance with Rhaenyra easily.

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Daemon in the courtyard at Harrenhal
Source: HBO

What's wrong with Daemon?

Not long after arriving at Harrenhal, Daemon begins to have a series of weird experiences. Alys Strong, the unnamed healer who makes a brief appearance in the castle, approaches Daemon while he looks at the tree in the courtyard and declares to him "You will die in this place."

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One of this first nights staying in the castle, his door is fiercely rattled from the outside, as though someone is trying to break in. The two swords he has holding the doors closed seem to be the only thing keeping the unwelcome visitor at bay, though when he opens them to confront the disturbance, there is no one there.

It's unclear if Daemon is being visited by the various ghosts and poltergeists that are rumored to walk the halls of Harrenhal or if he may be losing touch with reality.

It's not entirely clear how true the rumors of hauntings at Harrenhal are, though if Daemon's current experiences are any indication of what he may face while inside its walls, it seems there are more spooky happenings to look forward to.

House of the Dragon airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and Max.

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