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Monday, 24 August 2015

4 Seasons Of Filming "Game of Thrones" In Croatia: A Retrospective...(& A Surprise!)







Locations used to film "Game of Thrones" scenes from season 2 through 5. (Click onto image for larger view)





"We can confirm that based on story and location needs, Game of Thrones will not be shooting in Croatia for season 6. The question of whether the production will return to Croatia in the future will be decided once additional seasons are officially set by HBO. At that time, the production, along with HBO, will assess their location needs based on the scripts and storylines. HBO remains grateful to the HAVC and the Croatian crew for all of their continued support."



So there you have it, directly from the HBO GoT people from their official website from a few days ago. It was going to eventually end one day, one way or another, so the gods have spoken so to speak. I'm not going to get all in-depth here talking about the series and locations, you can click onto my previous related posts links at the very bottom for much information since season 2. The way I see it, I was happy back when HBO announced they would use Croatia as a filming location for season 2. Really fantastic news, "More people who will hear of and know where Croatia is" I immediately thought. Great exposure. And boy was I right. HBO and GoT setting up shop in Croatia for 4 straight years has been nothing but a boon, and the after effects will be around for many years to come. lots of people got to become extras, and there's even Game of Thrones tours now where you can visit the locations where scenes were filmed, recently even a GoT theme park was opened on the island of Lokrum which even includes the actual real "Iron Throne" seen in the series.

In a nutshell, since season 2 they used Dubrovnik and nearby locations for exterior shots of a seaside walled medieval city. The Walls of Dubrovnik and of Fort Lovrijenac were used for scenes in King's Landing and the Red Keep. For season 3 they used the island of Lokrum, the coastal town of Trogir, the Rector's Palace in Dubrovnik and the Dubac quarry a few kilometers to the east were used for scenes set in Qarth.

Then for the 4th season they returned to Dubrovnik again and included new locations, such as Diocletian's Palace in Split, Klis Fortress just north of and overlooking Split, Perun quarry east of Split, Mosor mountain range and Baška Voda further down to the south. The major centers for the 5th season of filming were Dubronvik, Split, Imotski and Sibenik.

(I thought it was very cool when they chose the historic Kliss Fortress as a filming location for seasons 4 and 5, because between the 9th-12th centuries it was a royal residence and castle of many Croatian Dukes, Princes, Princesses and then one of the official royal seats of Croatian Kings and Queens in the middle ages, later it also played an important role in Croatian history for centuries afterwards, numerous sieges were repulsed and important nearby battles took place that involved Klis Fortress, which actually helped save Europe and western civilization also. An actual previous monarchical residence that's directly tied to the early organized Croatian states and kingdom as a filming location was a fantastic choice I thought (sort of like choosing to film in the remains of Karlstadt Castle which was important to the early Carolingian era German history, or the Chęciny Castle and Fortress remains which is important to Polish national and monarchical dynasty history etc), so that was very cool)





Many of the most memorable epic moments and scenes in the entire series so far took place while filming in Croatia, including many local extras involved also. That's something that will remain as an everlasting contribution and essential fundamental part to the success of the award winning GoT series.




Yep, the exposure has done wonders for Croatian tourism, especially in Dubrovnik and Split, but more importantly to me just spreading the simple fact of where and what Croatia is was perhaps more interesting. HBO is not exactly a small local cable company after all, so it was a prestigious 4 years of hosting and filming scenes and having to listen to the producers, directors and actors accolading about filming in Croatia for 4 years. (You get the impression it wasn't a hellish shithole to film in basically). Like I've said before, I haven't seen all the episodes yet because I don't watch much television to begin with, but I do know the plots, characters, seen the highlights, trailers and a few episodes. I plan to just get the whole series on DVD eventually and just watch all the episodes then, sort of like a "Game of Thrones-athon", I'll probably order pizza or Chinese food.

Because of the constant changing in scripts and storylines in this business, filming will now move on to Spain. There was no scandal, bribery gone wrong, undercooked lobster and mushy rice fiasco, cat-fight stuff or bad terms etc, it's just the way the film making biz goes. The writers can't write scripts that will always include the Croatian locations as a part of the plot. One source explained that it was probably all about money and budget, as in keeping all the filming locations at a less distance from each other, and the fact that Dubrovnik's Old City quarters doesn't allow car traffic, which makes loading in the sets and props far more arduous and so expensive than it might be elsewhere. Whatever the case may be, probably the most disappointed people are the ones who were hoping to be extras again during filming.

At the end of the day it's just good to know that some of the best episodes over the last 4 seasons included Croatian locations. Our work is done, the torch is being passed on to continue the medieval wizardry, magical sorcery and a "Game of Thrones" legacy that is worthy of the same praise as freshly extracted Hyperborean golden honey. Croatia has gained even more immortality because of the last 4 seasons, so let us rejoice and start making microwave popcorn, sharpening our swords and putting more mutton and mead on the table, put the beers in the fridge and start making some martinis, oh and light a bunch of those frikin huge candles. There, I can now honestly say this is my last "Game of Thrones" post, Now I can finally spend more time keeping up to date on all the various selfie pics and Walmart videos out there. Hit the previous post links at the very bottom for more info in case you don't know anything about this topic.



Related:gameofthrones-croatia.com

www.kingslandingdubrovnik.com

gameofthronestourcroatia.com

www.radiotimes.com

www.hbo.hr

wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_of_Thrones

gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Filming_locations




A synopsis from the producers, directors and actors about filming "Game of Thrones" scenes in Croatia over the years.



Season 5 trailer. For this season they included various locations in and around Dubrovnik, Split and Šibenik. 



This is pretty cool too, interesting behind the scenes footage of how they transform the filming locations to fit the series plots and storylines.



The above footage reminds me of the behind the scenes making of footage from the "Croatian Kings" documentary mini-series, (which was broadcast to over 30 countries around the world on the Viasat History Channel btw). Below you can see Diocleatian's Palace transformed back in time to how it looked in the 4th century. More info about that at www.momentum-studio.com.

 
Croatian Kings making of from Kristijan on Vimeo.






The following 2 images are of Klis Fortress just outside of Split and inside Diocletian's Palace in the heart of the old quarter of the city of Split. Views during filming and when not filming. Images and text from www.radiotimes.com





Daenerys overthrows the Meereen, the largest of the three great Slaver Cities in season four, in this absolutely spectacular location 20 minutes north of Split. With panoramic views across a valley and the city beneath, this imposing fortress has been one of the royal residences of and guarded the seat for many a Croatian King. Today, it’s a peaceful but dramatic place. Hikers can climb to the top to see where Khalisi answered ‘injustice with justice’ by nailing the city’s former rulers to crosses for hundreds to see.




A better view of nearby Klis Fortress just outside and above the city of Split. More information at croatiancastlehistory.blogspot.ca




Split, Croatia's second-largest city, is the location of many of Daenerys scenes. The 1700-year-old Diocletian’s Palace was constructed by Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century and remains the city’s most famous site. It’s here that we see Daenarys in her throne room, where she trained her dragons and where the ‘kill the masters’ scene in season four takes place, when dozens of slaves sit around a fire discussing whether they should fight for her. While the upper levels of the palace did not survive, the underground tunnels remain fully intact, thanks to years of being used to store rubbish. Over the years they were filled from floor to ceiling with waste, sent down via chutes from the palace above, when built the ceilings and floors would have had mosaic tiling and marble on the walls. Excavated in 1952, visitors can now walk around these eerie tunnels and basement rooms.




I decided what the hell and threw in a few of my own personal pics from my last stay in Split and visit to Diocletian's Palace. It looks very different during the summer because it's not actually empty as seen above but has souvenirs stands, art and replica products stalls etc. Luckily the entrance to the main underground chamber areas you see here is free of charge.






Interior view of the front stairs from the street that descend to (enter cellos and symphonic music)..."The Throne Room."




A few more personal pics from the vicinity, I don't know if these views and areas were used for filming scenes, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did. Here is the exterior rear walls and entrance view of Diocletian's Palace. The walls of the palace that you see surround the old quarter, and these days within the walls you will find plenty of walkways, modern shops and restaurants etc. (fyi, not far from here is where important councils and assemblies took place and where Tomislav the Duke and Prince of Croatia was officially coronated and proclaimed Croatian King in the year 925, probably many of the medieval Croatian Kings, Queens, Dukes and Princes swam at the exact same nearby beaches that I did, that's pretty cool)




Roman soldiers at the entrance for that authentic 3rd century ambiance because you gotta make the people feel like they're authentically there and back in Roman times. (Quick background history lesson since on the topic and because I know you all just love reading snippets of history and just can't get enough of it). In a nutshell, the Romans defeated and assimilated the previous so-called Illyrian tribes in the area around 200 BCE and they went completely extinct around the year 200 CE. The Roman Emperor Diocletian (244-311), and interestingly who was actually not Roman, was the last actual Roman Emperor who held full power and control over the entire Roman Empire in all its spheres, and he made his retirement home/palace at this location that we see today. After his death and during the next century the northern frontier borders near the Danube started to weaken and fall, Germanic pagan tribes started to invade first taking Rome and then all of Italy setting up an Ostrogothic Kingdom. After the Romans completely abandoned the site, the Palace remained mostly empty for several centuries. Not long after the Gothic Kingdom ended then the pagan Croatian tribes migrated from the north of the Danube and in and around the Carpathians to ancient Dalmatia, Pannonia and Illyricum ("From the Croats who came to Dalmatia a part split off and possessed themselves of Illyricum and Pannonia" - Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio), encouraged by the Emperor Heraclius they conquered other nomadic pillaging barbarian groups that invaded from the east just previously, and afterwards the Croats were free to permanently settle their new lands. In the 7th century, the nearby remaining residents who had already fled to the walled palace in an effort to escape the violence and pillaging, used it as a safe defensive stronghold and ecclesiastical center. Then the Croats, who were still pagans at the time, soon moved into the former Diocletian's Palace as well and it became an economic center, trading and major marketplace in the area thereafter, then over the centuries the surrounding area outside the palace walls grew and expanded to become the city of Split, eventually in the year 925 the Croatian Duke Tomislav even became the very first recognized King of the Croatian Kingdom in the vicinity of Split. Also worth noting is that the Roman Emperor Diocletian instituted the pagan equivalent concept of ruling 'by the will of God', (Jupiter) which coincidentally also went on to become customary "divine right to rule" proclamations tradition by the early Croatian royalty and Kings, Carolingians and other later European rulers and even emulated by Christian Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire in years to come also. Croatians eventually went on to become victorious in many battles near Split and Dubrovnik during the Muslim conquests and jihads into Europe, (including the ones from these days about 489 of them altogether since the 7th century), they even sailed across into Italy in the 9th century and 10th century to defend against and attack the Sararcens and African Moors who occupied southern Italy. (retaking Bari, Taranto and Gargano). These days there's even an annual Days of Diocletian re-enactment and other performing arts mini-festival held every August. (It's all about making it feel authentic like from Diocletian's time and knowing history and the swords/helmets/shields. I also should remind the reader to avoid any confusion that all these below and similar images you come across are only of this oldest historic quarter section of Split and that there really is a surrounding larger and modern city of Split beyond the ancient palace walls, as in modern office and residential buildings, homes, stadiums, arenas, theatres, shopping centers and malls etc)




Staying on the same topic and theme, it's probably a good time to throw in another wacky yet informative and amusing davidsbeenhere video, it's really true, if you've ever been somewhere, anywhere at all, he's probably already been there. (I should also mention that being the earliest foundations for the later emerging city of Split, Diocletian's Palace is also listed as one of 7 Croatian UNESCO World Heritage Sites)




Front entrance exterior view from the Riva waterfront street to go down the stairs to the location of the Game of Thrones "Throne Room." A casual passerby on the street would probably think it's just some sort of alleyway, or stairs descending to a lemon party, one of those Brazil gay scat horse fuck peep shows, a crack den or a donut shop or washroom, but it's not any of those things actually, it's more like stepping back into time when there was no Jerry Springer show or televangelists and you knew fuckos would always get their just and painful rewards at the end. What great times. Even though the Roman Emperor Diocletian was native to the area and wasn't ethnically Roman like a number of Roman Emperors who also weren't either, he was still very respected and probably one of the most endearing and popular Roman Emperors in all of history. Reason being Diocletian rose from humble origins and was the last Roman Emperor/Ceasar who had full control of the entire empire, he also restored efficient government to the entire empire after many inefficient rulers and the near anarchy of the 3rd century. Diocletian's reorganization of the fiscal, administrative, and military machinery of the empire was also vastly improved as well as defeating and putting an end to the Persian westward military attacks and campaigns and other troublesome nomadic gangs also, the entire empire's borders were secure resulting in a period of peace before retiring and raising cabbages. (He also divided the empire in two appointing separate Emperors for the west and eastern half, and the border line coincidentally coincided precisely with the later eastern border of the Ostrogothic Kingdom and then Croatian Kingdom also)




The entrance leading to the various other chambers and rooms where you have to pay for admission, about 6 bucks.




One of the many walkways within and surrounding Diocletian's Palace walls in the old quarter.




Lots o' plenty of these scenes in the old town quarter within the outer walls of Diocletian's Palace. Over the centuries numerous buildings and walkways were erected. 




Exterior rear walls view again. Fortunately, back in the 90's the Serb-Yugoslav forces didn't try to shell or bomb Split like they did other coastal cities such as Dubrovnik, Šibenik and Zadar. (btw, all these photos I actually took before the GoT people even decided on filming here)




More surrounding old walkways. (I almost bought a pair of Mustang jeans at this store too, but I had a speaking engagement at a very important meeting to attend. I really should have quickly bought a pair though, next time I'm buying some Mustang jeans for sure)




Here's a good tip, I bought one of those hats seen below, you can find them at lots of the souvenir hats stalls and they're especially perfect for the beach. They're sort of like cowboy hat style looking but they're not made of straw and imported, rather they're actually made from the sea grass found nearby in the Adriatic, when dried the hats have a very pliable naturally flexible feel and not brittle and easy to crack like straw. I recommend you get one if in Split and going to the beach, they're a cool edgy change-up option from always wearing a baseball hat or durag...they look good with shades and they're cheap too like just a few dollars. (I was wearing mine with shades at the beach and a girl even asked me if I was Eddie Vedder, that's how cool they look). I recommend bringing one back and wearing it while backyard barbecuing, you'll really wow the neighbours and they'll all ask you where you got your cool hat and could they try it on.




Rear exterior walls view again. There's a cool relaxing shady park directly behind me where you can rest, look around and soak it all in., pic below. 




This is the park, you can still see some of the palace walls across the street while eating your snack, texting, pixel counting or whatever.




I was looking the wrong way at some tourist woman yelling at her kids and husband making a scene and not ready for the photograph, so I had to pixelate it because I didn't want to look like an absurd fucko. (I was shocked at her choice of words and antics, it was almost surreal, where the hell did she buy that hat thing?). That's the lucky toe of Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski) that I have my hand on btw. He was a former Croatian bishop who eventually left the clergy and religious life altogether but he was an important figure in medieval Croatian language historiography and a strong proponent of Croatian political interests and of using the very first recorded Croatian script and alphabet, ie: the Croatian recension Glagolitic alphabet. (Interestingly, some sources and various local legends have it that soon after leaving the ecclesiastical life altogether, he became learned in the arcane magic and mysterious secret ways of the pagan Croatian tribes from many centuries previously, then afterwards became a travelling wizard performing many great feats in the Croatian Kingdom. Legend has it that he was even associated with the later Croatian King Michael Krešimir II and his powerful Ban/Viceroy Pribina even being asked for advice and guidance about various things). It's a local good luck tradition to rub the toe (which is why it's been worn shiny smooth over the years) and it actually may have had a part to play in my plane not crashing, being stabbed by the local favela gangs or drowning while swimming. Of course I was wearing a Hajduk Split jersey, I just bought it and I was in the city of Split after all.




One of the many typical old walkways and stairs in the old quarter. You will also find scattered throughout the area rooms and apartments now that you can rent instead of getting a hotel room if you prefer. Right there as in just steps from the main Diocletian's Palace and the shore and actually still within the old palace walls. I checked out a few and they were not too shabby with modern interiors, appliances, shower, laundry, secure, television, wifi...and I couldn't believe how cheap considering the prime location so close to the old quarter sights, good to know.




Side exterior view from the main Riva in the morning, the entrance and descending stairs seen earlier are just to the left. I've got a whole bunch more and at night pics too, but I'll use those for something down the road. (there's rumours of a Tim Horton's donut shop opening here in the future, the timbits and good times are coming to Croatia so that will be amazing and I'll definitely do a post about it)




What the hell, I decided to throw in a few more while here, all these particular below images are within the palace walls or just beside. I'm glad I took this photo and some other similar ones because it's a perspective you don't see often. Looking down it looks like just an uneventful walkway, yet it's actually various shops, cafes, galleries, boutiques, designer stuff and restaurants tucked in everywhere. These days it can best be described as a mini ancient town within the city of Split, modern mixed in with the ancient which is very rare and pretty frikin cool. Some of these pics are also very rare because I took them early in the morning while it was fairly empty and not filled with tourists or any people yet.




Here's a view from the locally well known Caffe bar "ST RIVA", another place where you can rise above the street level view on the balcony in the shade and have some drinks. I was there with some lady friends from Sweden and Germany which is one of the things I'm not going to tell you about, If memory serves me correctly I think this time I was having a Tomislav Pivo/Beer instead of the usually more commonly seen Ožujsko or Karlovačko, because I planned from the very start of the trip to try every different Croatian beer option when available. (The use of double malted barley gives this dark lager its full taste and special aroma much appreciated by connoisseurs, Tomislav pivo is also Croatia's strongest beer with an alcohol content of 7.3%, see related Croatian Beers post with more information)




A few looks from the other side while at the same place, I wasn't complaining about the sipping on an ice cold beer and this seaside view that's for sure, and it's just doors away from the Diocletian's Palace. (It would have also been cool if some of the Croatian Navy ships docked nearby for an open house display and tours like they sometimes do, but oh well)







One of the fresh fish and seafood markets located in the old town quarter, there's plenty of outdoor fruit and vegetable markets also in the summer, just like every city and town. You can even haggle with them to try to get the best price for shrimp, oysters, crab or fish or whatever. (nothing like fresh right out of the sea pan-fried shrimp I'll tell you). It's not uncommon for frikin monster sized blue-fin tunas being caught in the nearby fishing areas too. (example)




Still early morning and shops opening up.





This is a cool and very rare photo, the feeling and ambiance of calm and serenity before the crowds. The stores are still closed, no people or tourists walking around or cafes and businesses opened up yet. It's a whole new perspective. Looking at it the average person would probably think it's just some barren and deserted old dinky European location, where nothing goes on because it's all filled with just elderly people who play checkers all day and knitting, when they're not at home making cheese and canning tomatoes and pickles. (Some decisions and agreements are even made at some of these small little known about cafe and restaurant tables and chairs by some people, secret agreements which affect the futures of people and countries in many parts of the world)








Self-explanatory, there's even a team fanshop located right in the old town quarters so you don't have to go downtown or to the malls, so of course I had to pick up the new official 100th anniversary of Hajduk Split jersey here after it opened, I would have been crazy not to.




The next day while on the other side of town so of course I had to take a pic of nearby Poljud Stadium, there were no games going on during this particular stay though.




Back to the old town quarters, notice the "Oldest pizzeria in Split" sign to the left. Interestingly, outside of Italy the earliest instances of making and eating pizza are probably in Croatia believe it or not. (and pizza actually at first was a last resort poor people's food believe it or not, mainly just scraps of any leftover meats or vegetables maybe going bad soon put onto some flat dough, sprinkled olive oil and then put in the oven and that's it). This would be long before Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Domino's or Chicago and New York style pizza came along. (More info and images of the pizzeria at Fortuna Pizza). We had some slices here later and it was pretty good. It looks like a ghost town here early in the morning but within just a few hours it will be filled with pedestrians.









Another rare view in the early morning, later on the shops open and at night this area will be teeming with people and artists and all kinds of goings on.




A few hours later.




Where I was staying was actually just a stones throw from here, it looks like a deserted town here but in a few hours and at night especially the whole old town section patios and walkways are filled, music, food aromas and sometimes with even the sound of corks popping and glasses clinking and singing in the air also. (As well as Hyperborean magicians and international traveling Luciferians/assassins etc coming to mutual agreements behind medieval and renaissance era walls discussing very important matters and contracts, just like in the movies).





Early morning before the shops and stores open is also a perfect time to check out inside Diocletian's Palace before the crowds of tourists arrive, you get a much better view and can take your time leisurely looking around.




Ok, just a a few evening shots, this below ice cream parlour is right by the ancient walls. (Very good ice cream too btw, lots of flavours with chunks of fruits and nuts you won't find at the 7-11). There's no shortage of ice-cream places in the summer and especially these temporary parlours.




The same location from a few pics previously, just as it was starting to get dark.




After the sun goes down is when the worst of the summer heat is gone, so this is when people like to head down to the old town quarter sections and stroll around, shop, go for drinks, eat or whatever.




One of those common entertainer guys you see set up here and there, usually puppets, muppets, accordion or guitar playing etc. "Don't push don't shove children, just watch and be amazed by their hypnotizing dance moves."





I know what you're thinking, it looks just like King & James St. downtown Hamilton Ontario, it's just uncanny that's for sure.





These days there's various types of evening music entertainment that goes on by the seafront old quarter Riva, after this act there was some Eagles tribute band playing to entertain the crowds, there's no shortage of various free entertainment during the summer nights.























...And The Surprise! Game of Thrones Turns Up In Croatia For Season 6 After All





Source: winteriscoming.net

Related: www.facebook.com/AdventureDubrovnik

watchersonthewall.com

(*Update - Game of Thrones also shows up for season 7: www.thedubrovniktimes.com)









Perhaps we are discovering that, like The Doctor, HBO lies.It turns out that huge fanfare the network made about not filming in Croatia for Season 6 wasn’t true.Will the madness ever end?

Perhaps the hope was to keep filming quiet and private, after the Old City had turned into a veritable circus over the last couple of years, with hordes of tourists lining the city walls to gaze down upon filming, and take hundreds of pictures to spread on social media.

Even the big spoilers of last season, like Cersei’s Walk, had video footage leaked.Either way, HBO couldn’t keep it totally quiet. Adventure Dubrovnik spotted the production team in the area this morning, and posted photos to their Facebook page, along with shots of an actress we’ve been waiting to see film scenes for the last few months.






Lena Headey has finished her maternity leave, and is ready once more to play the fierce Cersei Lannister.

And yes, it really is her, not a double.






Her hair has grown out a bit into a chic pixie cut. (Not that such things are fashionable at the turn of the 4th century in Westeros.) Note that the dress is, for the first time in quite a bit, not black. It’s also one of her lion shoulder gowns, which is one the show has put her in during the last couple of seasons whenever she is fiercely protecting her children.






Either she doesn’t know Myrcella is dead, or she’s finished mourning for her by this time.

Considering that she spent an entire season in mourning for her son, and then another mourning for her father, my guess is the former. Especially when you consider the location.










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