Written by Missy Johnston
Filming Location for King’s Landing Harbor
Day 1: Visit Dubrovnik, the “jewel of the Adriatic”. Dubrovnik was an independent, merchant republic for some 700 years and has enchanted the wealthy, the powerful, the artist, and of course, the sailor, throughout it’s remarkable history. The old town, completed in the 13th century, remains virtually unchanged. Tall ramparts surround and there are only two entrances to the old town which lead to the Stradun, the city’s promenade. In 1991, the Serbs shelled the city causing considerable damage, but thanks to local efforts and international aid, the old town has been restored to its former beauty.
Entering old town through the Pile Gate, in front of you is the Stradun. Here you will find the Onofrio Fountain, built in 1438. On the right is the Franciscan Monastery, with one of the oldest functioning pharmacies in Europe, in operation since 1391. At the other end of the Stradun, find the locals’ favorite meeting place, the Orlando Column, with the nearby Sponza Place and the baroque church of St. Blaise. Here is also the Rector’s Palace, built in 1441, which is now a city museum packed with valuable and historic exhibits. Opposite the palace through a narrow street is a square, Gunduliceva Poljana, which is the site of the busy morning market. In the same square is the Jesuit Monastery from the early 18th century. From here you can head for the little old town port and visit the city walls, built between the 13th and the 16th centuries, which encircle the city and which have been remarkably preserved.
In the second season of the Game of Thrones TV series, Dubrovnik was the main filming location for “King’s Landing”, the capital and largest city of the “Seven Kingdoms”. David Benioff, executive producer and a writer, once said that the Seven Kingdoms’ capital might be the most important location in the entire show, so the location scouting crew knew the location for King’s Landing had to look right. The minute the team started to walk about the walled city of Dubrovnik, they realized “the Pearl of the Adriatic” looked exactly King’s Landing was described by the author. Dubrovnik’s features served also as the landmarks of Westeros, part of “The Known World” and separated from “Essos” by the “Narrow Sea”.
The filming locations in Dubrovnik are in three main zones which are: the walled city, Lovrijenac Fortress, and Gradac park
Lovrijenac Fortress was used as the “Red Keep” in “King’s Landing”. This location allowed the crew to shoot perfect exterior shots which had proven difficult in the previous location, Malta. The bay where the fort is set also served as a place to film the largest fight in the War of the Five Kings – the Battle of Blackwater Bay.
The fortress walls surrounding Old Town Dubrovnik including Minceta Tower served as the filming location for the Warlocks of Qarth. Other parts within Old Town Dubrovnik were used as locations for various scenes, including the Jesuit Staircase, St. Dominic Street, the Ethnographic Museum of Rupe, Ploce Gate, and the Rector’s Palace
Gradac park was used as the place where the Purple Wedding reception took place, a very significant event in the fourth season. It is during that Royal Wedding Carnival that King Joffrey was poisoned.
Game of Thrones isn’t the only fantasy which was filmed in Dubrovnik. Last year the old town hosted the crew of Lucas film and Rian Johnson who shot scenes for Star Wars Episode VIII. At the beginning of this year “the Pearl of the Adriatic” also welcomed the production team of “Robin Hood: Origins”. The Minceta Tower in the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik as used as the Haunting spot in the “House of the Undying”,
Just off Old Town Dubrovnik is the island of Lokrum which can be visited by ship’s tender. Lokrum was the setting in the botanical gardens, and the ruins of the Benedictine Monastery for Qarth, “the greatest city that ever was or will be”. One of the major scenes shot on Lokrum is the welcoming party of Daenerys by Xaro Xhoan Daxos.
Day 2: Cruise north from Dubrovnik and stop for lunch at Trsteno right on the coast. Within the village of Trsteno, is the Trsteno Arboretum, is one of the oldest and most beautiful arboretums in the region. Built in the 15th century, the grounds of the Arboretum were used for both the King’s Landing’s gardens, particularly for scenes including the Tyrell Family, in Seasons Three and Four. All the scenes where major characters shared their secrets and plotted their next move, surrounded by lush greenery, were filmed here. Built by a shipping merchant, the soil and garden plantings were brought from all corners of the world, as once cargo was discharged, the shipping merchant had ships filled with soil and garden plantings, for this Arboretum.
Cruise in the afternoon to Ston on Ston Bay. Behind Ston, which is known for the salt ponds, is a very long defensive wall dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and is the second longest fortified wall in the world. The wall appeared in the series starting in Season Two. Take a walk around the tiny village of Ston, visit the what was once the salt works and return to the yacht to cruise past many shell farms to Mali Ston to anchor in front of Bota Sare Restaurant. Many feel that the brackish water in Ston Bay, as fed by the fresh water Ston River, is perfect for growing oysters and mussels. Bote Sare Restaurant, built into the remains of an old castle, serves oysters and mussels plucked fresh from their own shell farm, along with fresh bread baked in a wood fired oven, home grown vegetables, olive oil pressed from their olives, and honey produced by their bees, for a true Farm to Table experience of fresh seafood. There are also non-seafood items on the menu, which is filled with traditional Croatian dishes.
Day 3: Cruise along the Peninsula Peljesa to the very green island of Mljet, 95% of which is a National Park. Cruise up a long fjord on the island to the little town of Polace, so called for the ruins of a Roman palace (polace) which cut right through town. This is a lovely anchorage, with a little town rimmed with fish tavernas, and is a favorite of yachtsmen. Ashore Restaurant Ankora creates a black squid ink risotto, which is virtually a Croatian national dish and Restaurant Ankora is felt to create one of the best versions of this dish in Croatia. Because the waters surrounding Mljet are mainly a national park, the waters are full of fish, shellfish, and squid which are daily fished by locals for great seafood meals. Look at the back docks of the various shore side tavernas, each of which have a small cage suspended under the dock harboring lobster, fish and mussels to be plucked right out of the water and into the pan for dinner. Have the Captain call to be sure that Restaurant Ankora is making their famous risotto and head ashore for a great dinner. Overnight.
In the afternoon, the area surrounding Polace is filled with hiking and bicycle trails. Bicycles are available for rent as well in Polace. Enjoy cycling or head out hiking on one of the trails or National Park roads, for located within Mljet National Park are two lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake) with buildings from the old Benedictine Monastery on Islet Melita in the middle. These lakes once were fresh water and are now salt water. It was the Benedictine Monks that changed the very nature of the lake waters that surrounded them, by building a canal from the lakes out into the sea. This changed the lake fresh water to salt water forever. Today the monastery building is a café restaurant, and you can explore the various buildings and hike around the little island. The island can be accessed either by National Park boats after hiking or riding to the little quay over the hill from Polace, or by moving the yacht around to the opening of the lakes to explore the lakes in the ships tender, and enjoy water toys such as sea kayaks.
Korcula Old Town Photo Credit by Missy Johnston
Day 4: After breakfast, cruise to Korcula Old Town to explore this traditional medieval walled city, which is one of the largest medieval walled cities still in existence today. The whole of Korcula Old Town is surrounded by 14th century medieval thick stone walls including towers that were used for defense of the town during past centuries. The inside of the walled area, which was built on an oval shaped raised area of ground was built with a main road along the highest area of the ground with small roads off on either side, so that the interior area outlay of roads is often referred to as a fish skeleton. This layout of the town in a somewhat herringbone pattern allowed free air circulation but protected all inside from the strong local winds. The interior streets are all walking streets and are all stepped, which further retains the Old Town for pedestrian traffic only. Inside the Old Town are shops, restaurants, cafes and a museum in the house considered to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. Indeed, both Marco and Polo are common first and surnames in this area. Be sure to walk inside the Old Town as well as around the outside to see the old fortifications and towers, perhaps stopping in the little café in one of the towers where drinks are hauled up to the top by rope.
Just off the coast of the island of Korcula, part of the Korcula Archipelago and the resort island for the inhabitants of Korcula, is the island of Vrnik, which offers great secluded swimming locations with beautiful clear blue water, and on land, there are many deep stone quarries dating back to Roman times. Overnight in a lovely anchorage on Vrnik.
Hvar Town Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Day 5: Cruise to the island of Hvar. Sitting in a strategic trading location, Hvar has been a natural stop for seafarers throughout seafaring history, with each civilization leaving a mark on the face of this island reflected in many of the historic buildings and ruins remaining. Cruise into Hvar Town on the island of Hvar, once home to a major naval base belonging to the Venetian Empire. Dominating the skyline and overlooking the town are remains of an extensive castle. A tour guide can be arranged for several hours for a tour of Hvar Town, or you can wander through town on your own, hiking up to the castle for a great view of the surrounding area. The island of Hvar has long been settled and is very fertile with fields of lavender and grapes, along with fruit and nut orchards. Lavender tussie mussies are readily available at little stands for purchase, and lavender honey is a great treat from this island to try on top of a local cheese. Hvar is known for wine production, producing several labels of distinction.
Hvar is also known as the cosmopolitan spot of Croatia, where the European jet setters congregate for nightlife especially at Hula, Carpe Diem and Carpe Diem Beach. Hvar center is marked by upscale shops, however if a quiet night is of interest, visit Hvar town during the day and head out to a quiet anchorage around the island for a lovely dinner on board under the stars.
Diocletian’s Palace Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Day 6: Head to Split to see Diocletian’s Palace, also a filming location for the show. Built at the turn of the 4th century AD, approximately 1600 years ago, by the Emperor Diocletian as a retirement palace, the location is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Diocletian designed this palace to be located along the crystal-clear waters of what is now the Croatian coastline as a lovely seaside home far from civilization. The town of Split grew up within and around the palace walls, as this was a structure built originally for 9000 inhabitants. Over the centuries, locals continued to create their homes within the palace walls and now today there are still homes and shops that are anchored into the structure and there to stay. Now, the Palace of Diocletian is in the literal center of the town of Split, with one side along the sea. The other three sides remaining were built as heavily fortressed walls. The ruins are one of the most complete remains of a Roman Palace in existence. The Palace was built with several different levels, including a subterranean level with fully vaulted ceilings. The seaside façade, which was the main residence of the Emperor, retains the feeling of a villa, while the rest suggests a military camp. After the Romans abandoned the structure the locals remaining moved into the fortified walls for protection, thus establishing the long history retained today of a living ruin, still alive with homes shops, bustling with day to day life.
During the many years after the Romans abandoned the palace and today, Christianity made its mark with a church built in the interior of the palace ruins, along with a bell tower, crypt, and a side chapel built into the ruins of a temple. Filming of some episodes from season 4, 5 and 6 took part here, mostly in the catacombs of the palace, where Daenarys had her throne room. It is here in the underground tunnels where she trained her dragons.
Enjoy lunch in Split and after it is a 20 minute drive in a luxury van into the mountains behind Split to Klis, to see Klis Fortress, perched on top of a mountain with a panoramix view across the entire valley, the islands and Split itself. With a history spanning 2000 years, this fort is too well preserved to be called a “ruin”. Klis Fortress was used in the TV series as the city of Meereen during Season 4, as the location in which Daenerys was to seize the city and free slaves. In the afternoon cruise to Trogir.
Trogir Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Day 7: Once in Trogir, you should explore the city in daylight, and perhaps visit the open market on the other side of the island on the mainland; easily recognized by the many little tents set up next to the bridge. If you would like, a tour guide can be arranged, or you can explore on your own, but be sure to look for the following
- The core of the ancient city inside the walls with about 10 churches and many other buildings from 13th century
- The 13th century Duke’s Palace The 13th century Cathedral of St. Lawrence featuring the Portal by Master Radovan considered a masterpiece by created by this Croatian artist
- Both 15th century big and small palaces Cipiko
- The 15th century city loggia
- The 15th century Fortress Kamerlengo
- The 17th century city gate and the 15th century city walls
Nearby the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, you may be treated to a group of Klapa Singers that gather quite often in this location to sing Croatian folksongs.
Also, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Trogir is located on a small island, connected to the mainland via a bridge with a protected harbor. First established by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC, Trogir has had continuous urban settlement for the last 2300 years. Trogir is considered one of the best examples of a Romanesque-Gothic Medieval walled city still in existence in Central Europe. Before dinner on board, take a stroll through Trogir along streets originally laid out in the Hellenistic time period. After dinner are several ice cream shops on the quay and other cafes to enjoy, or sit on the aft deck of your yacht to watch the world go by.
Sibenik Cathedral Photo Credit Missy Johnston
Day 8: In the morning, leave early to cruise to Sibenik. The medieval cathedral of Sibenik, the Cathedral of St. James. perched overlooking the harbor, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sibenik was used as a filming location during the fifth season of the show, as the location for one of Westeros’ Free Cities, Braavos. Filming took place in the Square of the Republic of Croatia anchored on one side by the Cathedral of St. James, a beautiful example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture styles, damaged from bombings in the recent war, and now repaired. Here also is the famous House of Black and White.
Krka Falls Photo Credit Missy Johnston
In the afternoon cruise to anchor in Zadar, and join a National Park boat to cruise up the Krka River to Krka Falls National Park. In this park various landscapes were used for the Seven Kingdoms in Season Four. Hike around the Falls, on the walking trail, and visit the little re-created village showing life in the late 1800’s in this area of Croatia, featuring a Blacksmith, Weaver, and “clothes washing machines” harnessing the power of the falls.
Day 9: In the morning return to Sibenik to disembark.