May 24, 2016
The breathtaking beauty and history of this medieval Mediterranean city are fact – not just the fantasy seen on screen in this epic TV drama.
Its twisting, mythological plots and raft of love-’em-or-loathe-’em characters have made Game of Thrones one of TV’s most-talked-about hits. Yet viewers are often just as spellbound by the cinematography as the storyline, adapted from George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels. Iceland, Northern Ireland and Morocco are among the alluring locations of this award-winning show that returns for its sixth season this month but Croatia could be the most arresting backdrop of the lot.
The cobbled, maze-like streets of Dubrovnik are, after all, the setting of King’s Landing, the sun-kissed epicentre of GoT’s fantastical universe (and the capital city of the warring continent of Westeros). In this fabulously photogenic fortified port city hugging the Adriatic Sea – 600 kilometres south-west of Croatia’s capital, Zagreb – knowledgeable guides, some of whom were extras in the show, will show you where key scenes were shot as you follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and his on-screen sibling Cersei (Lena Headey).
A highlight of Viator’s Game of Thrones Walking Tour is a stroll along Dubrovnik’s awe-inspiring medieval walls, from which you’ll gaze out over terracotta rooftops, Baroque church spires and the emerald-tinged waters of what GoT fans will recognise as “Blackwater Bay” – the site of the explosive battle between the armies of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) near the end of season two.
The bay is actually a blissfully calm spot for sea kayaking and you can paddle over to the forested island of Lokrum, which doubled as Qarth, the mysterious city-state conquered by “Mother of Dragons” Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in season two. Legend has it that, in real life, Richard the Lionheart sheltered on Lokrum when his ship was wrecked on his return to England from the Crusades.
Another enticing getaway close to Dubrovnik is Trsteno Arboretum, a 20-minute drive. This former 15th-century aristocratic residence featured in the palatial King’s Landing garden scenes, with Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) and Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) just two of the characters who plotted and schemed here. Expect to find lush greenery, ornate fountains and spectacular viewing platforms overlooking the Adriatic. ￼