The History Buff's Guide
Your Game of Thrones Guide to Croatia (Part II)
Now that Game of Thrones season 8 is underway, and the fates of our beloved characters are nearly sealed, we thought it only right to pay homage to the real life sets. So while the show may be coming to an end, you’ll forever be able to relive your favourite scenes by visiting these awesome places across Croatia. In Part 1 of our Game of Thrones Guide to Croatia, we covered the best filming locations in Dubrovnik. By popular demand, we bring you Part 2, where we guide you through the best filming locations country-wide. Here’s our top 5!
1. Diocletian’s Palace, Split
The series has used the Palace on multiple occasions, most memorably in the S4E4 episode, Kill the Masters. Remember the scene where Grey Worm incites a slave rebellion amongst his fellow slaves? Shout-out to the basement in Diocletian’s Palace. Or how about Daenerys’ Throne Room? That’s right — Diocletian’s Palace.
While much of the actual Palace has crumbled over the centuries, it’s underground rooms and tunnels remain surprisingly intact — largely thanks to the garbage that had accumulated here until renewal efforts began in 1952.
2. Klis Fortress, Split
Or, as Game of Thrones fans know it, Meereen — the largest of the three slave cities in Slaver’s Bay. You may recall the scene where Barristan Selmy says to Khaleesi, “sometimes it is better to answer injustice with mercy,” to which Khaleesi replies, “I will answer injustice with justice.” Pan to graphic scenes of crucifixion. As the scene ends, we see Khaleesi from behind, looking out over the spectacular bay below, dotted with beautiful islands. Behind her, the banner of House of Targaryen is seen blowing triumphantly.
The fortress is also featured in S6E1, when Tyrion Lannister and Varys stroll through Meereen disguised as common merchants, giving us a great view of the actual ruins of the Klis Fortress.
Historically, the Fortress has stood in one form or another for over 2,000 years. Beginning as a small stronghold built by the Illyrian tribe, Dalmatae, it later became a defence complex for the Romans. During the middle ages, Croatian kings moved in and used it as their royal castle. Finally, the fortress was expanded into its final form during the Ottoman Wars in Europe, a period lasting several centuries.
A visit to the rugged town of Klis is sure to make a lasting impression. The fortress is built along the jagged peak of a stony mountain ridge, overlooking olive groves, vineyards, the town of Klis, and the city of Split in the distance. You may be wondering about that 800-foot pyramid looming in the background of Meereen — sadly, that’s some CGI voodoo.
3. St. James Cathedral, Šibenik
In S5E2, Arya arrives at the House of Black and White, home of the Many-Faced God, on the island of Braavos. Within the dark and eerie temple are the myriad gods once worshipped by the slaves who fled Valyria in search of freedom. But would you believe that this sinister-looking place is actually a beautiful limestone church in Croatia?
In reality, the House of Black and White is Šibenik’s beloved St. James Cathedral. The large triple-nave basilica features three apses (semicircular domed recesses, typically housing an alter), and a massive top-dome. As you enter the Cathedral, you’ll have the pleasure of gazing up at the ornate, 32-metre-high ceiling. Your eyes will also be drawn to the four massive columns supporting the dome from within, as well as the gorgeous floor.
Construction began in 1402, though blueprints for the basilica had been underway for over 100 years. Damage to the church was sustained in 1991 as a result of a Yugoslav People’s Army assault, but the Cathedral was quickly restored. If all of that isn’t reason enough to visit the Cathedral, remember that it’s the most important Renaissance building in all of Croatia, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Game of Thrones junky or not, the St. James Cathedral in Šibenik is a must-see for every history buff.
4. Lokrum Island
Lokrum Island — home to the greatest city that ever was and will be. Yup. You guessed it: The City of Qarth. In S2E4, a ragged band of Dothraki, led by Khaleesi, are met at the city gates by The Trader of Spices and the Thirteen. In the following episode, we witness Khaleesi invited to the House of the Undying by the warlock Pyat Pree and the… shall we say… fiery aftermath of said encounter.
The island itself lies just over half a kilometer from Dubrovnik, and is well-known for its medieval Fort Royal Castle. The first historical mention of the island dates to 1023, when the abbey and monastery were founded by the Order of Saint Benedict. In the 15th century, most of the Benedictine monks were ousted from the island by oppressive powers. Legend has it that the aggrieved monks left a curse on the eve of their departure, trailing candle wax behind them as they marched from their homes to the sea.
Curses notwithstanding, visitors are welcome on the island. Ferries run frequently between Lokrum and mainland Dubrovnik, so be sure to add this idyllic setting to your Game of Thrones itinerary. You’ll definitely want to visit the monastery, which boasts a full-scale replica of the Iron Throne, and the botanical gardens, which date back to the mid-nineteenth century.
5. Old Town, Trogir
Much like Split and Dubrovnik, Trogir’s beautiful Old Town made an outstanding set for several Game of Thrones scenes. In S2E6, Trogir’s main port was used as Qarth’s trading harbor, where the Warlocks had imprisoned Khaleesi’s… um… “children.”
During the summer, tourists flock to Trogir for its endless swaths of beach, as well as its unique architecture — a blend of Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. Trogir also makes a great base from which to visit the surrounding islands where you can swim, sail, and scuba dive.
BONUS: Krka National Park
In the S4 premier, on the continent of Westeros, Arya and The Hound begin a long journey through the Riverlands. It’s a place of smouldering corpses, perpetual mist, and once home to White Walkers. Their journey is a treacherous one, and will transform their long-standing rivalry into a friendship. But did you know that the real Riverlands is actually a lush national park in Croatia?
King’s Landing is closer to Westeros than you may realize; drive just three hours north of Dubrovnik and you’ll discover the magnificent Krka National Park, a wilderness lover’s paradise. The park boasts 109 square-kilometres of unspoilt nature, including innumerable waterfalls, large networks of hiking and cycling trails, and hidden Roman ruins.
A visit to Krka National Park is a great way to add some exercise to your Game of Thrones itinerary, so be sure to include it on your list.
Although winter is not coming, summer certainly is. And what better time to hop on a plane to visit this divine country and its many Game of Thrones filming locations? Let us know what you thought of our GoT itinerary in the comments below! Did we miss any major filming locations? And, if you haven’t already, make sure to book your one-of-a-kind Croatian getaway at THE STELLA today — from Westeros to King’s Landing, our curated collection has something for every fan.