German historical TV drama Sisi is filmed in Vilnius’ famous spot

Vilnius Old Town as TV Series Sisi Backdrop. Photo by Saulius Ziura
Vilnius Old Town as TV Series Sisi Backdrop. Photo by Saulius Ziura

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, has been transformed into a filming location for a historical TV drama Sisi about the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The TV series is shot by the German film production company “Story House Pictures GmbH” and will be broadcasted by RTL. Some of the most famous locations in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities have been chosen for their resemblance to the royal palace of the Habsburg dynasty, according to Go Vilnius press release.

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, has been turned into the set of a hit-to-be television series Sisi, which will be broadcasted by RTL. The German film production company “Story House Pictures GmbH” is shooting the TV show, which tells the life story of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, in Lithuania, Latvia, and Germany during the summer months.

Stunning locations bringing the story to life

The show is mainly filmed in Vilnius and its surroundings. The royal palace of the Habsburg dynasty, also known as the Hofburg, will be depicted by some of the most famous spots in Vilnius: the exterior of the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society, built at the beginning of the 20th century, and the 16th-century architectural ensemble of Vilnius University, which becomes the Austrian royal palace in the show. Other locations also include the Church of St. Johns, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, Lithuanian Writers’ Union, Franciscan Monastery, as well as other Lithuanian cities.

Sven Bohse on set in Vilnius. Photo by Saulius Ziura

“It is no secret that Lithuania has been an attractive choice for many film and television creators for the last several years due to highly professional staff, convenient logistics, various architectural locations, and tax incentives for cinema,” said Jūratė Pazikaitė, director of Vilnius Film Office. “In order for the project to be completed in our region and to implement the creative ideas of the series, Lithuanians have cooperated with Latvians. We know that if the first season of the series is a success, the Germans will definitely return to both countries next year.”

The series Sisi will depict the 19th century Austria

The series tells a story of the extraordinary life of the Austrian empress Elizabeth—a young and carefree princess, who falls in love with one of the most powerful men in the world, Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph. She must face the dark side of love and evolve into an adult ruler, who eventually becomes an icon.

“It is a story about emancipation. A story of a woman, who comes into a position where she has to fight for her self-esteem, and for her role not only as a politician but also as a woman,” said Sven Bohse, a famous German filmmaker and director of the series.

Vilnius Old Town as TV Series Sisi Backdrop. Photo by Saulius Ziura

According to Mr Bohse, it was his first time in Vilnius, and the Baltic states in general, therefore he was very surprised by the Mediterranean atmosphere.

“I feel totally fine here. It is a very nice country, with nice cities and people. The way people are sitting outside and the relaxed atmosphere everywhere give off a very pleasant impression,” commented Mr Bohse. “I think there were two reasons why we made a decision to shoot the series here. One of them was movie funding. Also, here in Lithuania, you have very experienced production companies and crews, stunning old buildings, and… horses—everything you need for shooting a historical movie.”

International team of over 200

An international team of esteemed film industry professionals from Germany, Latvia, and Lithuania work on the series in Vilnius. In this multi-ethnic team of over 200 people, almost 100 are locals—from film artists, light, and sound technicians to costume painters, tailors, make-up artists, stunt performers, and special effects technicians. A Lithuanian was also appointed as the artistic director for the series.

Filming in Vilnius University Courtyard. Photo by Saulius Ziura

“The biggest and most interesting challenges have arisen because the series are historical and require solutions to create the appropriate atmosphere,” added Algirdas Garbačiauskas, a Lithuanian artistic director.

Filming in Lithuania is organized by film production company “Nordic Productions” UAB. The company also worked on the film “Siberian upbringing” with John Malkovich, Eleanor Tomlinson, Peter Stormare, and on the popular Italian series “Anna Karenina.”

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