Our walking tour guides are our most valued strength, chosen for their knowledge and passion for sharing their love for Dubrovnik. Them being locals, born in Dubrovnik enables us to provide a deep insight into the rich culture, history, and local customs, ultimately crafting a truly authentic experience for you to come away with memories to be treasured forever.
Our guide Zoran Bencek is no different. We asked him a few questions for you to get him know a bit better.
- How long have you been working as a guide?
I have been working as a guide since 2014.
- Name two things you like and dislike about being a guide?
The most beautiful thing is without any doubt the ability to meet so many people from all around the world on a daily basis and that there are moments where you literally ask yourself “Am I really getting paid for this?” as it sometimes doesn’t feel like work.
As a disadvantage, I would absolutely point out the situations when it gets overcrowded in certain parts of the town and when it starts to feel very unpleasant for both me and my guests.
Also the limited amount of time you have with the guests, as there’s really never enough time to see everything and to get to know each other.
- What do you consider to be the best thing about Dubrovnik?
That would definitely be the contrast of a really busy old town in comparison to the almost untouched places in the surroundings of Dubrovnik. Also, the fact that you can’t really escape from its rich history, as it’s really everywhere and around every corner, just as the unavoidable local patriotism of its citizens.
- Can you share a less-known titbit about Dubrovnik history with us?
I would love to share something from the middle of the 15. century, the time of the rise of the Ottoman empire.
Today’s Istanbul, back then Constantinople, fell into the hands of the Ottomans in 1453., Bosnia in the hinterlands of Dubrovnik some years later. So the government of the city-state decided that they need to prepare themselves for the eventual attack of the Ottomans and strengthen the squared tower of Minčeta and newly build a 22 m high and 4 m thick northern wall from the eastern Ploče gate to Minčeta tower.
And they had a really unique and smart method of how to speed up the construction and the transportation of the stone into the city. That was by introducing a law that everybody needed to bring a stone with them as some form of a tax.
Nevertheless, you would arrive from Gruž or Ploče area, you would always be stopped by two clerks at the gates who would ask you if you had the “adequate stone” with you. Adequate meant according to your physique, and you needed to bring it every time you wanted to enter. The wall was built in only 2 and a half years, Minčeta a bit longer, as the reconstruction was suspended because of an outbreak of the plague.
- One of your specialties is the Game of Thrones walking Tour. Can you describe what makes it so good and different than other tours of Dubrovnik?
It’s a completely different approach in terms of the locations we visit and the content I share, where my main focus is to share my but also others’ experiences how GOT has impacted and changed Dubrovnik’s tourism, everyday life, economy, locals, etc.
- Are you a fan of GoT?
I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fan, but I have watched it and enjoyed it very much.
- What is your favorite scene in the show?
Hot pie introducing himself, the kidney pie and not to mention the importance of gravy to Brienne of Tarth.
- Do you have a favorite filming location in Dubrovnik and what happened there?
It’s definitely the fortress of Lovrijenac aka the Red keep on the show, where many scenes have been shot but my favorite one is the one when Joffrey escapes from the riot and gets slapped by Tyrion.
- Were there any special requests from your tour-goers, what was the most interesting one?
No, I haven’t had any special requests.
- What part of the tour gets your guests most excited about?
The entrance into the Pile bay and the view of our mighty and beautiful Lovrijenac.
- Have you been around when the HBO was filming GoT? If you did, can you tell us what that was like?
Well, I haven’t been directly involved in the production of the show, but you couldn’t avoid it as it was shot on so many locations in and outside of town. I actually had one close encounter with the production in Trsteno where I went for a swim during September of 2013. They shot a scene with Pedro Pascal and Lena Headey on the pier of the small harbor beneath the Arboretum. They had only secured the main entrance with securities but not the alternative one that I used that day, so they were quite surprised when they saw me walking down the stairs into the harbor but basically, they were very kind and respectful and actually apologized to me that I can’t use the beach next to the harbor as they needed clear location.
- People have been saying the Game of Thrones had a huge impact on Dubrovnik when in reality, the number of guests coming solely for GOT is smaller compared to cruise tourism, how does it look from your perspective?
It clearly had a big impact on attracting so many guests from younger age groups and specific markets, which numbers definitely increased since GOT has been shot in our town, my personal experience especially from the U.S.A., U.K., Australia, India, China, Germany, etc.
- What are your thoughts on some people being vocal that doing just Game of Thrones tour cheapens the heritage of this historic town?
It’s almost impossible to only focus on GOT content during the tours as many guests enjoy to hear some content that is not directly related to GOT. It depends on how you approach the subject but as somebody who is deeply in love with his hometown’s history, I somehow feel obliged to share that love with guests visiting my Dubrovnik. So the heritage of Dubrovnik is untouchable as far as I’m concerned.
- Do you prefer talking about the history of Dubrovnik or Game of Thrones fiction?
I prefer the history of Dubrovnik.
- Besides doing a Game of Thrones Tour, what would be your Top 5 things to do recommendations in Dubrovnik be?
It depends on the profile of the guests that are asking me for recommendations, but these pop to mind :
- early morning visit to the island of Lokrum,
- sunset from the Danče beach,
- afternoon into the sunset hike to the Orsula park,
- early morning coffee at Prijeko street in the Buzz bar or even cocktails in the evening
- morning or afternoon trip to the Arboretum in Trsteno and a visit to its divine beaches.