Game Of Thrones' King's Landing is Dubrovnik's 'blessing and curse'
Medieval Croatian city experiences tourism boom thanks to hit series Game Of Thrones
DUBROVNIK, CROATIA Shepherding tourists through the arches and towers of Croatia's medieval walled city of Dubrovnik, Mr Ivan Vukovic spends half his time leading tours of a capital that doesn't exist: The fictional King's Landing from Game Of Thrones.
The two cities now rival each other for fame after Dubrovnik - already a tourist and cruise ship magnet - became a set in 2011 for the hit HBO fantasy series, whose final season premieres on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420) on April 15 at 9am, with a same-day encore at 10pm.
It is also available on HBO Go and HBO On Demand.
Doubling as King's Landing, the capital of Westeros' Seven Kingdoms, can be a "blessing" and "curse" for Dubrovnik, said 38-year-old guide Vukovic.
"It's an amazing thing because it brings us so many people, but now we don't know what to do with those people," he added, describing bottlenecks that choke the city's limestone streets in peak summer season.
More than half of his tours include landmarks from King's Landing, while the others focus on the genuine history of Dubrovnik, a Unesco site that dates back to the 7th century and features a maze of churches, palaces and fountains perched above the shimmering Adriatic.
Locals no longer bat an eyelid when tourists gather along the old town's baroque Jesuit Stairs to shout "Shame! Shame! Shame!" - a sight fans recognise as a reenactment of the scene when Queen Cersei is forced to publicly walk naked down the steps after confessing to adultery.
There's a bar that offers a "Mojito of Shame" cocktail, while souvenir shops on the main street offer a Game Of Thrones bottle opener for 40 euros ($61), T-shirts for 34 euros and mugs for 20 euros.
The city's old town is one of its last holdouts, with most locals renting out their apartments to tourists or selling them for up to 10,000 euros per square metre.
From a population of 5,000 in the early 1990s, the number of residents is now around 700.
After Dubrovnik's debut in season two, the show attracted more than 244,000 tourists - who spent some 126 million euros - in Dubrovnik between 2012 and 2015, according to the Zagreb-based Institute of Economics.- AFP