‘Game of Thrones’ fans retrace footsteps of HBO hit in ancient Dubrovnik
If you want to get an up-close look at King’s Landing and the Red Keep or take a stroll on the same staircase featured in Cersei’s naked walk of shame, head to Croatia. That’s where fans of HBO’s blockbuster series “Game of Thrones,” returning for its seventh season July 16, are keeping tour guides busy.
In the ancient city of Dubrovnik, hawkers sign up eager tourists for “Game of Thrones” tours at the square near Pile Gate, the main entrance to the stone-walled Old Town that features prominently as King’s Landing, the harbor capital of the mythical Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
The series, based on the books by George R.R. Martin, is a fantasy drama of warring kingdoms, diabolical deceit and untamed lust, among other things.
“What’s not to love about blood, sex and violence?” jokes tour guide Ivan Vukovic, who lives in the old city and offers themed tours for fans. Vukovic says he’s seen people re-enact Cersei’s infamous walk of atonement through Old Town — a couple of them, like the tyrannical queen, without clothing.
The old city’s stone walls, fortresses, towers and courtyards seem unchanged from the days of Dubrovnik’s golden age in the 14th to 16th centuries. The boulder-studded harbor, clear Adriatic waters and nearby Lokrum Island — stand-in for the trading city of Qarth — are captivating, whether you’re a fan of the show or just an ordinary traveler.
The series’s producers say Dubrovnik’s Old Town was a perfect match for the King’s Landing described in Martin’s books.
“To find the full-on, immaculately preserved, medieval walled city that looks uncannily like King’s Landing ... that was, in and of itself, just such an amazing find,” the show’s co-creator D.B. Weiss said in an HBO YouTube video.
Croatian officials don’t have statistics on how many tourists visit with “Game of Thrones” in mind. But it was clear from the street traffic during a June trip that tours related to the hit show are popular.
Inside the old city, where the limestone streets have been smoothed and polished by visitors over the centuries, shops are well stocked with “Game of Thrones” souvenirs. Atop the city walls, spectacular views of the rocky coastline make any fantasy seem possible.
Terri Colby is a freelance writer.
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