Set on the streets of 17th century Paris, the BBC’s new swashbuckling Musketeer adventure scraps the tabards and ostrich feathers from the classical tale and gives it a muddy leather-military makeover. Producer Colin Wratten chose to shoot the series in the Czech Republic.
The location “was a real Pandora’s box”, explains Wratten, who found countless royal properties and quaint streets to shoot the series, “there were so many options”. The historic centre of Prague was used for many of the street scenes. “In Liliova Street, we see Santiago Cabrera, who plays Aramis, hanging out of a window when the Cardinal (played by Peter Capaldi) pulls up outside his house,” says Wratten, “he doesn’t realise that one of the Musketeers is in bed with the Cardinal’s mistress upstairs. When the Cardinal comes in the front door, Aramis jumps out the window.”
As well as the historic side of Prague, there’s “the equivalent of London’s Bond Street,” explains Wratten, “with shops such as Louis Vuitton and Prada. It’s a vibrant European city but there aren’t as many cars or people, even in the height of the tourist season, it’s a great place to visit,” he says. Wratten runs us through his favourite spots to see from the series…
“It’s a 17th century castle in a very picturesque location,” says Wratten, “It’s completely surrounded by a lake, you can go fishing there, you can visit the castle. It has interior and exterior rooms. It also has a big open square with a bell.”
Scene: Zvíkov Castle appears in episode seven, when someone is being burnt at the steak. “Cardinal Richelieu, played by Peter Capaldi, takes a woman out to what looks like a convent where she will have a religious trial, and then he accuses her falsely of witchcraft,” says Wratten. “The surroundings are very religious.”
Find it: Zvíkovské Podhradí 1, 397 01 Zvíkovské Podhradí, hrad-zvikov.eu
Open all year round for visitors, this big French-style stately home has gorgeous ornamental gardens, a parkland and regal rooms to explore – including a mirror hall. “There’s also a lake there, with big potpourri gardens and ornamental cabbages,” explains Wratten.
Scene: Featured in episode three, with James Callis, and episode five, when Porthos goes back to the slums where he was brought up. The grounds of Chateau Dobříš are used as the King’s palace. “Here, both the King and the Cardinal sit in the garden on a sumer’s day,” says Wratten, “we also use one of the big state rooms in Dobříš in episode nine.”
Find it: Náměstí Svobody 1, 263 01 Dobříš, zamekdobris.cz/en
This grand chateau was owned by the very royal and very wealthy Duchess Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg. In the 1600s, she had a number of decadent sprawling estates in the region. Guests are welcome to wander its interiors and extensive grounds and imagine how the other half once lived.
Scenes: “We use it for the outside of King’s palace when he’s shooting pigeons in the grounds,” says Wratten. “We also use it throughout the series for interior and exterior shots of the Louvre Palace. Inside, it has state rooms and long corridors. We use it in episode two when Jason Flemyng’s character is chucking bombs around.”
Find it: Ploskovice, 411 42 Ploskovice, zamek-ploskovice.cz
This delicate location was once a Jewish holding camp. “It’s the Czech equivalent of Auschwitz,” explains Wratten. A lot of the Czechoslovakian army was stationed in this former military fortress; there are graves, lots of tunnels and open-plan military battlements to visit.
Scene: “The tunnels, in which you see guest star Jason Flemyng, as Vadim, running around, double as the Louvre Palace,” says Wratten, “Vadim appears out of the tunnel at the River Seine, which is created using CGI.”
Find it: Ústí nad Labem Region, pamatnik-terezin.cz/en
“This is slap bang in the middle of Prague, next to a church,” says Wratten, “Strahov Monastery has two amazing rooms.” Scenes from the Musketeers were shot in two book-lined libraries with floor to ceiling books and polished wooden floors. “You look up and there’s a Sistine Chapel-style ceiling, with murals,” says Wratten. The public can visit the monastery and go into these exact rooms. “We were fortunate enough to be able to film in them, but we all had to wear foot protectors and put down special carpets for the crew, so we weren’t marking the floor,” reveals Wratten. “The books were made of very old paper, we had to be careful not to touch anything. There also were some very old globes, which were interesting and show how much of the world had been discovered at that point.”
Scene: We see the Strahov Monastery in episode one, when the Cardinal confronts the King in the palace in a big open room. We also see the building in episode seven, when Linon (played by Annabel Wallace) comes to visit the King. She storms in to take issue with him. “It’s also used in episode three as a reception room, when we meet the Duke of Savoy,” says Wratten.
Find it: Strahovské nádvoří 1/132, 118 00 Praha 1, strahovskyklaster.cz
Find the former bishops and archbishops of Olomouc’s residence three hours from Prague. “It has white walls with lovely gold gilt chandeliers, and enormous grounds that you can walk around,” explains Wratten. Many of the period rooms and original furniture remain, as does a massive grand hall with a big mural on the ceiling.
Scenes: The grand hall in the Kroměříž Palace is seen in the episode when Athos, played by Tom Burke, and Vincent Regan have a big sword fight.
Find it: Sněmovní náměstí 1, 767 01 Kroměříž, www.zamek-kromeriz.cz/en/
The Musketeers starts tonight at 9pm, on BBC1