To steal a line from the one and only Frank Sinatra, “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.” Well we, not I, are facing the eighth and final season of a series, that has for many, put Dubrovnik on the map, Game of Thrones.
By the time you need this the final season will be up and running and once again millions and millions of people all over the globe will be glued to watching Dubrovnik in the leading role. Love it or hate it, you certainly can’t deny that it has helped earn the city a mountain of cash. When Mr George R. R. Martin started to write and to describe a kingdom with a walled city that would be the heart of the whole story nobody knew at that time that he was actually describing Dubrovnik.
With a few strokes of his pen, or probably fingers pressing at the keyboard, he had inadvertently changed our future. The old saying that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” is completely true. By creating this magical fantasy kingdom, he had also created hundreds of jobs in the city, opened countless souvenir shops, sold tonnes of memorabilia, attracted thousands of new visitors and brought priceless marketing and PR.
All this basically dropped out of the sky like rain. We did zero lobbying, paid no under the table sweeteners (Sanader style) or even approach the producers to propose the idea. It fell like rain from the sky. “The first time we saw Dubrovnik, I was in shock, because the whole city really looked the way we pictured King's Landing looking,” said one of the executive producers David Benioff. And I remember it clearly as I was there when he said it, in fact I was standing right next to him. I remember quite vividly when Game of Thrones rolled into town. It was season 2 and apart from a few hard-core fans nobody had really heard of the show. “If you are in town they are filming some historical drama, I’ve no idea what it’s about, probably nothing special, but try and take a few photos,” my editor at the time told me. I literally walked right through the middle of the main set with my camera, I still have a selfie with Peter Dinklage. Little did I, and lots of other people, know at the time just how gigantic this “historical drama” would be.
Although for millions of people around the world Dubrovnik has been renamed King’s Landing at least they actually know where the city is located now. I remember a few years ago sitting in a café near Central Park in New York when the young waiter, probably an art student or a budding actor, asked me where I lived, “Dubrovnik, Croatia.” He looked at me with a blank look on his face as he handed over my morning bagel and caramel coffee. I was just about to start explaining geography when his face changed expression and he blurted out at me “King’s Landing…you live in King’s Landing…that’s incredible…congratulations.” My first reaction was to ram the bagel in his face and scream. Centuries and centuries of history and yet my young waiter had only heard of us because of a modern series. But I stopped myself (and saved my bagel). I realised that, even though it was at first frustrating, it was only really important that my waiter friend had actually heard of Dubrovnik, how we had come into his radar was in fact the least important factor.
He would, thanks to Mr. Martin, forever know about Dubrovnik. And he isn’t the only one.
A major Chinese newspaper contacted me about an interview and I presumed it was because their Prime Minister was on his way here. But no all he wanted to talk about and to ask me about was the Game of Thrones effect on Dubrovnik. He was clearly more interested in the Lannisters than Li Keqiang. But to be honest I can’t say that I’m sad to see Game of Thrones ending. Although I was hooked at the beginning I later lost interest.
It just became too long and as soon as I had missed one whole season I really didn’t have the energy to follow it any more. It has been an interesting ride but enough already. We don’t want to be King’s Landing anymore. Can we have our Dubrovnik back!