Dubrovnik’s Fort Lovrijenac, which has appeared in the background of multiple “Game of Thrones” scenes, dates back to the 13th century. // © 2015 Lena Katz
The port in Dubrovnik’s Old Town // © 2015 Lena Katz
With season five of “Game of Thrones” soon to air on HBO, millions of eyes will once again lock on the bloodthirsty fantasy epic unfolding in King’s Landing — and the real-life setting of Dubrovnik, Croatia, will see the effects of its extended television spotlight.
On the downside, there was a months-long debate over a scene that involved a female character emerging naked in front of Dubrovnik Cathedral. On the upside, “Game of Thrones” tourism is abundant — visitors have a fresh interest in city landmarks that have been seen on the screen, and the luxury hotels in town are filled with HBO royalty who are, according to reports, much friendlier than the royals of the Seven Kingdoms.
While Viator was one of the first operators to offer “Game of Thrones” tours, most local tour operators have followed suit. The city has also created a “Game of Thrones” locations map for self-guided tours — there’s a large version of it mounted on a wall of Old Town. Extremely dedicated fans go even further, staying in hotels where the cast and crew stayed, or venturing to Lokrum or Trsteno to see less-trafficked locations.
The Western Walk of Old Town Dubrovnik is where King Joffrey was attacked by a mob throwing excrement. Trivia nerds should know that makeup artist Lucija Podic, who was responsible for keeping the fake filth fresh during takes, is also a tour guide. For clients who want every detail, his private tours are worth the expense.
The location used as a backdrop for King Joffrey’s name day was also used to film the Battle of the Blackwater. It’s Fort Lovrijenac, a fortress overlooking the sea. Dubbed “the Gibraltar of Dubrovnik,” it was built to protect Dubrovnik from the Venetians in the 13th century.
The Rupe Museum, built in 1590, is used as the exterior of Littlefinger’s brothel. Many centuries ago, this building was a granary, and today it’s a historic monument housing textile exhibits and typical clothes of the 16th and 17th century. Visitors say the views are more compelling than the museum exhibit itself.
Then, there is Dubrovnik Cathedral, from whence Cersei Lannister did not emerge naked for her “penance walk,” thanks to a strict anti-nudity policy. While the Cathedral looks exactly perfect to represent the seat of religion power of King’s Landing, producers had to move the scene to appease the powers-that-be.
Not surprisingly, this scene has gotten more advance buzz than just about anything else in season five. If you look south from the Old Port, you can see Montenegro. It hasn’t yet become a film magnet, but some people say it has the most beautiful locals on earth — and the landscape is equally stunning.
If people want to overnight where the cast and crew stayed, send them to Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, an iconic five-star hotel with stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and the UNESCO World Heritage-designated portion of Old Town. Sunsets are absolutely glorious, and if guests want to venture into Old Town to sightsee by day or after dusk, it’s less than a 10-minute walk. With 141 rooms and 17 suites, this is the first place to go for luxury lodging at a reasonable rate — unless the cast and crew are in town, in which case everyone from the executive producer to the House of Lannister could be bunking there.
Nearby, Villa Orsula Dubrovnik is a bit too exclusive even for television royalty. The executive chef for this supremely luxurious villa property cooked at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. For clients celebrating a wedding, important family reunion, contract-signing business dinner or some other momentous occasion, Victoria restaurant is a great bet, even if no one can splash out for an overnight stay.
Hotel Bellevue often has “Game of Thrones” packages that include luxury car transfers, a “key to the city” of Old Town and other perks, including a bottle of local red wine. It’s strong, semi-sweet and has been produced in the region for hundreds of years. For super fans, we’ll say it tastes very similar to a nice Dornish vintage.