“Our guide will be waiting at the fountain holding a Lannister banner.”
You know that you are about to be surrounded by other fans, geeking out about Game of Thrones, when you receive this message about the meeting point for the Dubrovnik Game of Thrones tour.
To be honest, the Dubrovnik Game of Thrones tour was the main reason why I wanted to visit this city. Yes, I acknowledge that Dubrovnik is beautiful and historic, and the walled city is majestic and enchanting. But I look past the red-tiled roofs, gelato stands, and hoards of camera-snapping cruise ship visitors, and see Dubrovnik for what it really is:
King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms.
Robert was our excellent guide for the Dubrovnik Game of Thrones tour. After seeing the mob scene of large groups getting organized near the tour buses, leaders shouting into microphones in a variety of languages, I was instantly relieved about our small group size (max of 8) of like-minded Game of Thrones fans.
Our first stop was the setting for the Red Keep, the home of the King and his family.
In reality, it is the St. Lawerence Fortress, a stone structure rising 37m out of the Adriatic Sea and dating from the 15th century.
Shockingly, this fortress which is open to the public, remains empty almost all day long, while the walled city, just a few hundred meters away, is packed. Our guide said that they only sell about 200 tickets a day, and about 180 of those tickets are bought by Game of Thrones fans. Once you reach the top of the fortress, you have one of the best views of the walls of Dubrovnik and the Old Town, almost all to yourself.
Considering it will be the only time you are not being pushed and jostled by frenzied tourists in Dubrovnik, enjoy the peace.
The fortress was used in numerous scenes, including Joffrey’s Nameday Tournament, when Tyrion slapped Joffrey (a favorite scene for most fans, who unite in their hatred of Joffrey), and when Cersei explains what real power means to Littlefinger.
From the fortress, we descended towards the chaos of the main gate of Dubrovnik Old Town. We passed the “Docks of King’s Landing,” which in reality, is a small concrete dock used by local fisherman and numerous kayaking tour companies. Robert’s flip book of still images from the show, including the scene where Sensa considers leaving with Littlefinger, helped recreate the scene while inexperienced kayakers frantically paddled out to the Adriatic.
Passing through Pile Gate, it was hard to imagine filming anything here, as it’s the main funnel for people to enter the Old Town and habitually crowded. But somehow, they managed to film a scene in this area, a major feat once you’ve seen the masses.
In Season 2, Episode 6, at around 24 minutes, Cersei is chased by the peasants during a revolt. She runs through the large main gate.
Our guide was cast as an extra (peasant #44 to be exact), and was in the chase scene, “expertly” leaning on a railing. Robert explained that even during this filming, the main entrance remained open to the public. They would film for twenty minutes, break for ten minutes to let people in, then resume filming. Completely closing the area was out of the question, so they managed the shoot around the visitors.
Of course, this past spring, the crew of Star Wars, on location in Dubrovnik shooting Episode 97 (or something like that) managed to not only close the main entrance, but the ENTIRE OLD TOWN for two whole days.
Money talks, I guess.
Inside the walls, we came upon the staircase that Cersei descends as she does her walk of shame, from the Sept of Baelor back to the Red Keep, completely naked.
Through the magic of CGI, they added the Sept of Baelor, which does not actually exist, and the Red Keep, which was added to the hillside. The staircase was real at least!
Robert noted along the walk through Old Town that the actress playing Cersei got final approval on her naked body double, flipping through over a thousand candidates. Why couldn’t she just do it herself? Well, the actress has a full sleeve of tattoos on both arms in real life, and seeing the Queen covered in tats would be a bit jarring, and not especially regal.
We passed by the doors used as the entrance to Littlefinger’s (by the way, best character name in the show) brothel in King’s Landing, and the Palace of the Spice King of Qarth.
The tour finished overlooking the marina of Dubrovnik, with the wooded Lokrum Island in the distance, the setting for the utopia of Qarth.
For any fan of the show, the Dubrovnik Game of Thrones tour alone is worth the trip to Dubrovnik. The town is a little crazy and always busy, but the small group size and excellent guiding by Robert made it absolutely worth it.
Plus, the tour wasn’t just about saying what scenes happened where, but how the filming took place, how they hid electrical wires and modern amenities on the buildings, and the role of CGI in the making of King’s Landing.
The two hours flew by, and it brought one of the best shows on television to life for me, no matter how dorky that sounds.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Having you taken the Dubrovnik Game of Thrones tour? Share you thoughts below!
My tour was complimentary from Game of Thrones Croatia, which normally cost €54 for the 2.5 hour tour. Of course, all opinions are my own. Plus, I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, so of course it was awesome!