What is Dubrovnik’s connection with Game of Thrones?
Dubrovnik officially became King’s Landing in 2011, after the producers of the show decided to replace the original location in Malta due to certain problems that they experienced with the local authorities there. Most of the scenes that take place in King’s Landing in Season 2 and 3 are filmed in Dubrovnik and its surroundings, including the nearby island of Lokrum, which was posing as Qarth, “the greatest city there was or will be” in Season 2. The filming of Season 4 is about to take place a few weeks from now and apart from Dubrovnik the film crew is also going to use some other locations in Croatia.
I believe that all the fans that read George R. R. Martin’s books and had a chance to see the Old Town of Dubrovnik with its mighty City Walls understood why Dubrovnik is the ideal location to depict the capital of seven Kingdoms of Westeros. As the filming in Dubrovnik started, the film crew openly admitted that they couldn’t have found a more suitable location for King’s Landing than Dubrovnik. Besides from that, one of the stars from the show, Peter Dinklage, who plays perhaps the most popular character, Tyrion Lannister, admitted that Dubrovnik was his favorite location during the Comic-con conference in San Diego in July this year
How many Game of Thrones tours have you delivered this summer?
It is hard to keep track, but I believe that the number is close to 100 already.
What made you start offering the Game of Thrones tour?
It started as an interesting addition to the standard historic tour, which was more or less similar to what the other tour guides offered as I’ve been often asked to point out the locations used during filming by many of the fans of the show. I realized that organizing a specialized thematic tour oriented around the Game of Thrones locations in the Old Town of Dubrovnik would be an ideal way to refresh my standard tours of Dubrovnik. It turned out that I managed to tap into a broad niche of clients, as the tour is not only popular with clients that usually book guided tours during their travels, but also with the people that never used tour guide services before.
I must admit that I enjoy performing this tour as I am also a great fan of the book and the TV series and discussing the developments with the other fans is a rewarding experience. Apart from that, the tour also allows me to convey equally interesting anecdotes from Dubrovnik’s own glorious past to travelers that might have never decided to take a private guided tour if it wasn’t for this specialized tour in my offerings.
Is everyone in the group usually a fan of the TV show? If not, how do you keep the non-fans entertained?
Usually all the group members are fans of the show and some of them have read the books as well. However, it is not rare that I encounter mixed groups of travelers consisting of GoT fans as well as the people that have no idea what “The Song of Ice and Fire” is about. Although the tour is generally designed to follow the points from the show, I always make sure to throw in enough information about Dubrovnik’s own turbulent history and explain the story behind the locations that were used in the filming. All these sites have their own story and I learned that providing a factual narrative about their historic background ensures a more fulfilling experience for all participants of the tour. In the end, everybody wins: GoT fans are able to learn more about Dubrovnik (and surroundings), the other travelers gain an interest for the show (and books) and I am myself generally happy to help both types of clientele to fully enjoy the tour. Or in other words, my role is fulfilled if I facilitated a new and interesting way for travelers to fall in love with my city.
What do you think it is about this show (and the books) that have turned so many people into fans?
I believe that the books as well as the TV series provide an unusually interesting balanced cocktail of fantasy, suspense and intrigue that is appealing. Although the fantasy genre has always had a broad base of followers, this book as well as the show brings something new to the table as it provides more thorough insight into the psychological development of characters. All this, combined with the marvelous display of the cast’s acting skills (and impeccable choice of filming locations) guarantees high rating for the show. The plot is extremely well written and skillfully dosed so it manages to keep the audience in a constant state of speculation so none of the readers/viewers dares to predict what will happen next. I believe that Arya Stark puts it best: “Anyone can be killed.” And that is the beauty of this show!
Do you have a favourite part of the tour?
It is hard to say as all parts of the city that were used in the show are quite interesting, but perhaps the Minceta Tower, which served as one of the settings for the House of Undying, is the most iconic of them all. It is always great to see when travelers recognize the locations from the show without any help from my side and this often happens once we follow the Khaleesi’s footsteps to the fabled House of Undying. Some of the fans find it hard to curb their enthusiasm and often play at reviving the scene from the show, which can be quite amusing.
Thanks for taking the time to tell us more about your Game of Thrones Tour, Tom. We’re so glad the tours are such a resounding success! If any of our readers are also fans of the show, clearly you've got to get to Dubrovnik soon - but be sure to be in touch with Tomislav in advance, as this guide is in high demand.