Visiting the world of ‘Game of Thrones’
Along with Belfast, Malta and Iceland, the Old Town of Dubrovnik is just one of the places where Game of Thrones was filmed. In the first series Mdina in Malta played the role of the capital of the Seven Kingdoms but it moved to Dubrovnik for the second series.
The Old Town of Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th Century by refugees from Epidaurus in Greece and is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its historical significance. As soon as you cross over the drawbridge and walk through the Pile Gate you will find yourself entering an ancient city, immersed in a time gone by. There are several sites in the Old City where Game of Thrones was filmed which includes the Pile gate, the Ploče gate and along the city walls.
Visitors can take a walk along the city walls that surrounds the Old City. The walk takes a couple of hours and offers stunning views of the Dalmatian Coast and a bird’s eye view of the city. Fort Lovrijenac is one of the sights that can be seen from the wall, it is an impressive structure built on an outcropping rock. It is located just outside the Western wall of the Old Town and was featured in Game of Thrones.
Given that there are several locations where Game of Thrones was filmed, it is surprising that the local tourist board has not jumped onto the opportunity to create a tour specially to take fans around the locations. For instance, in places like North Carolina where The Hunger Games was filmed, there are a number of trips and tours where fans of the film can visit the film locations and take part in high octane activities such as white water rafting. While in Cardiff there are unofficial Doctor Who bus tours that take fans around locations where the show was filmed.
Within the Old Town itself, there are some incredibly beautiful monuments and buildings, including numerous museums and churches from the Franciscan and Renaissance periods. There are daily walking tours that tourists can take to learn about the history of the town and the monuments.
The most striking part of the Old Town is the Stradun, the central thoroughfare that takes you all the way through from end to the other. Given the presence of the imposing walls that can verge on the claustrophobic, the architecture has been designed in such a way as to lessen this effect. The Stradun gently meandering out as you proceed down it and a bell tower was put in place to guide people towards the sky when they gazed up at it.
Unfortunately, during high season this place can become somewhat of a tourist trap due to the hordes of cruise ship tour groups that invade the walls every morning. At quieter times, you can hear the sound of the waves gently crashing against the shore.
The Old Town has many restaurants and cafes that visitors can eat at although the dishes will be similar from place to place, varying slightly in price. The food on offer is mainly Mediterranean dishes such as pasta, pizza and risotto. For those looking to save money on food there are several supermarkets where you can buy the basics, particularly if you are staying in self-catering accommodation.
In terms of shopping, there are many souvenir shops with a number of high end shops selling designer clothes and jewellery. With all the attractions and facilities, visitors may stay in the Old Town only leaving to visit the nearby beach. However, the best beaches are on the islands.
With spectacular views of the neighbouring lush, green islands in the middle of a clear blue sea, it is no wonder that Lord Byron described Dubrovnik as ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’. For the more active, there is a kayaking tour that takes visitors around one of the islands and around the outside of the Old Town. While for those who prefer a more laid back experience, there are boats and organised excursions to the nearby islands for sand and sea. For those looking to venture further afield, there are day trips to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Venice, Albania and Montenegro.
For more information about Dubrovnik go to: visitdubrovnik.hr
Image credit: Neela Debnath/The Independent
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