Situated at the southernmost tip of Croatia, and overlooking the blue waters of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik has been transformed into one of the most fashionable tourist destinations around the Mediterranean. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, almost 1.5 million tourists were visiting the narrow streets of the atmospheric old town and enjoying the expansive views from its historic old walls before Covid-19 brought international travel to a standstill.
Part of the surge in visitor numbers came from the hit TV series Game of Thrones which was partly filmed there, and with its prequel House of the Dragon now being shown, we can expect numbers to pick up substantially.
First broadcast in 2011, Game of Thrones remains one of the top-rated TV shows as determined by visitors to movie website IMDB. Initially broadcast on HBO, the show has also been screened in movie theaters in the US, enjoyed successful Blu-ray and DVD releases and is now available through streaming providers. It’s not just the shows which have proved phenomenally popular. A series of video games for both PC and smartphones, including the award-winning Winter is Coming, has helped keep the show relevant. You can even find examples of Game of Thrones themes moving into other forms of gaming, namely online slots. Indeed, there’s a Slingo title on Gala Casino, Slingo Fire and Ice, which leans heavily on the show’s music and imagery but without an official license. There is even an episodic video game called Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series which was released in 2014, at the height of the TV’s show fame.
The shows and the games have all done wonders for Dubrovnik’s tourism profile as fans are keen to visit famous sites from the show. In fact, the small town has become so popular UNESCO has advised it limits the number of visitors. If Dubrovnik were to go down this path, they would be replicating other important tourist destinations such as Komodo Island in Indonesia and Machu Picchu in Peru where concerns over visitor numbers and their potential impact on the environment put a strain on the local resources.
Just 70 hectares in size, Lokrum offers the perfect opportunity to escape the crowds of Dubrovnik’s narrow streets. Today it is a nature reserve but, previously it was home to a monastery originally founded almost 1,000 years ago. It is possible to kayak round the island, but why not land and visit the atmospheric ruins of the monastery as well as the beautiful botanic gardens. In the series Lokrum doubled as the city of Qarth and in one of the episodes, Daenerys attended a garden party where she met Pyat Pree who invited her to visit him at the House of the Undying. Many wild peacocks live on the island which explains why many decorations in Qarth feature the colorful birds.
With 12-meter-thick walls, and supported by 10 large cannons, Lovrijenac Fortress presented a formidable barrier to any threatened invasion from the sea. In the series, the fort was the site of the Red Keep which was where Joffrey had his name day. It was also from the Red Keep where Tyrion, Podrick, and Bronn stood and watched the battle of Blackwater unfold beneath them. Now it is possible to take fandom to a whole different level – couples can hire the fortress for their wedding!
With its strategic location looking down on King’s Landing, the Bokar Fortress is almost 600 years old but like much of Dubrovnik is enjoying a renaissance thanks to Game of Thrones. Originally intended to protect the Pile Gate, its impressive location above a natural outcrop made it the perfect place to observe the lie of the land. It was from here, for example, where Tyron and Lord Varys surveyed King’s Landing while planning its defenses. In a later episode Cersei Lannister told her brother Jamie of her plan to team up with Euron Grayjoy.
The Stradun is the main street in the heart of the Old Town and while it doesn’t feature that often in the series when it was used the results were spectacular. It was famously used in the Walk of Shame scene when Cersei is stripped of her hair and clothes and made to walk through King’s Landing with crowds throwing food at her as punishment for her adultery with her twin brother Jamie. Rather than throwing food, visitors can admire the street while enjoying a coffee in one of the area’s famed cafes.
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