8. February 2021

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The history of the medieval town at the Barrandov Studio dates back - surprisingly - only to 2016. It’s an extensive set constructed on the backlot, originally intended for the filming of the series Knightfall, and was left standing and made available to other filmmakers. One of the main benefits of this “local location” is undoubtedly its size - a total area of more than 160,000 m2, including an artificial rampart and an empty natural horizon without the presence of any disturbing elements. It has been used as a set for such large films as Oliver Twist, The Brothers Grim, Knight’s Tale, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the series Carnival Row.

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Medieval town in Barrandov | Photo: Barrandov Studio

The faithful copy of 14th-century Paris and the seat of the Knights Templar was created for the historical series Knightfall (Twilight of the Templars), the two seasons of which were shot in the studios and on the backlot at Barrandov Studio in 2016 and 2018. It was designed by the well-known Czech film architect Ondřej Nekvasil. The series was co-produced by the American companies AE Studio, Midnight Radio, and The Combine in cooperation with Stillking Films. The set measures 100 x 150 meters and the buildings reach a height of up to ten meters. It took 150 Czech craftsmen from the Barrandov Set Construction two months to build.

The complete walled city complex comprises four squares, main boulevards, and an inexhaustible number of small streets and nooks. Houses, towers, and palaces look real thanks to the hard work of a team of architects. They carefully examined historical studies and period paintings and created a model. They then prepared plans and drawings, drew up a budget, and determined what methods and materials would be used. Concrete, plaster and wood were used for construction, which was carried out by the Barrandov Set Construction and Props teams of joiners, carpenters, plasterers, sculptors, upholsterers, painters, fitters, blacksmiths, and scaffolders. Nevertheless, the walls of the castle tower are almost indistinguishable from real stone. The roofs are covered with shingles made of wood and real and artificial slate.

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The individual buildings are primarily just walls supported by wooden structures embedded in concrete footings. The buildings can thus be easily moved around depending on production requirements. They can be rebuilt, other decorations can be added, and, of course, the facades of individual buildings can also be modified. “Czech craftsmen are extremely professional in these types of things. When a foreign producer makes a decision about where to shoot, they take into consideration not only production incentives and film-friendly locations, but also the professionalism of Czech filmmakers and suppliers. For example, although carpentry is not strictly a film profession, carpenters and many other handicraft professions are important suppliers to filmmaking. And Czech craftsmen have a great reputation in the film world,” says Petra Marková of the Czech Film Commission.

One can actually enter some of the 80 buildings, including the Royal Palace. You can shoot, for example, in a shop, stable or chapel. Jakub Zíka of Barrandov Studio points out another great advantage: "If necessary, we can also build additional interiors in the adjoining studios. Filmmakers have access to the services of our costume and props fund, office space, and other facilities at their fingertips." For these reasons, Barrandov Studio decided not to demolish the set and thus expanded its scope of services for foreign and domestic productions.

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The set is in top condition and any minor damage - caused mainly by weather conditions - is repaired immediately. Thanks to professional care, its service life is estimated at at least another five years. The area is protected by fencing, a camera system and a security agency. 

The set gets plenty of use. Last year, parts of it were used during the shoot of a documentary about Jan Amos Comenius Like Summer Snow and the series Carnival Row. In recent weeks, the producers of Carnival Row have shown great interest in reusing the set if another season of this successful series is approved, as well for another series, Miracle Workers. And it’s waiting for your project too!