The Belvedere Hotel, Dubrovnik AKA The Trial by Combat Arena
The Hotel Belvedere played host to a key scene from Season four, where Oberyn fights the Mountain Gregor Clegane to determine the fate of Tyrion Lannister, who is accused of killing his Nephew Joffrey Baratheon.
The Hotel itself was built in the mid 1980's as a five star luxury venue but was unfortunately destroyed in the Croatian War of Independence in 1991. The hotel itself, which was sheltering refugees from the conflict, was attacked by Serbian forces and took heavy damage. When arriving in Dubrovnik, our taxi driver even mentioned that he had fought from the location during the war. Since the war, the hotel itself has been abandoned and fallen into a state of disrepair.
The site itself is located around 20 Minutes walk outside the Old Town, built against the cliffs with a fantastic view of the Adriatic. Even in it's current condition, it is not difficult to understand why the hotel was so prestigious, with its own private beach and a boat launch. As we approached the open gate, avoiding the gazes of the odd local down the narrow lane, I couldnt shake the feeling we shouldnt be there. On this day, there was an eerieness about it with not a soul in site, just the odd unknown noise coming from somewhere deeper into the vast 18 level site
The top end of the car park of the site has been Game of Thrones production base when they are filming in Dubrovnik, but we were there to see the Amphitheatre where they filmed the Trial by Combat. As the area is a hangout for the local youth to skate and play Football, I was hoping the main Amphitheatre area would be empty in order to get some good photos. We certainly had luck on our side, as the area was completely empty as we arrived in the early evening.
The first thing that struck me as we looked out onto the Amphitheatre was the sheer amount of work that had gone into creating an 8 minute scene. Around a month's preparation went in to changing this derelict skate park into the iconic and lavish location featured on the show.
We visited around eight months after filming had been completed at the site, and most of the larger remnants of the filming were no longer visible, with the exception of the Baratheon/Lannister painted mural on the floor of the amphitheatre.
On a smaller scale, there was a few bits of fake Ivy left around the site, and always on the lookout for a souvenir, I made sure to obtain a couple of these!
Since we went to the site in May 2014, the site itself has now been bought by an investor, who it is rumoured now wishes to re-develop the hotel and restore it to its former glory. This makes the site more difficult to access, but that didn't stop fans of rival football team Split repainting the Lannister/Baratheon mural with their own club symbol.
In conclusion, the site, and Dubrovnik as a whole, is a unique piece of living Croatian history detailing a more troubled time. I find it ironic that there is a new luxury hotel almost next door, perhaps signifying the hope and resilience of a country on the rise.
With the subsequent change of ownership and potential re-development, I feel privileged as a Game of Thrones fan to have visited the site while it was still accessible and while the mural was still in place. On my next visit to Dubrovnik, I have a feeling that access won't be quiet as easy.