How I Lived my Game of Thrones Fandom in Croatia

How I Lived my Game of Thrones Fandom in Croatia

Take on Westeros one spot at a time in these exotic filming locations across Split and Dubrovnik.

For most Game of Thrones junkies, Croatia has always been known as the film location of the show and remains nostalgic for those of us who love #throwbacks, even as producers started to pass over the country in favour of Spain last year for Season 6.

Croatia was without a doubt, the destination I had in mind, and my adventure began when I won plane tickets to Europe at a networking event. As a die-hard Game of Thrones fan, I was determined to leave no stone unturned, and planned my six full days around its filming locations in Split and Dubrovnik.

Klis Fortress: Following Khaleesi’s footsteps in Meereen

My journey began as I caught a bus from the city of Split to the filming location of the city of Meereen, conquered by Daenarys Targaryen and her Unsullied army. Situated 20 minutes from the city, and perched high atop a rock bluff, Klis fortress has been a defensive stronghold for the Dalmatia region for more than two thousand years.

The hike is relatively straightforward as the walking paths have already been cleared and made even from all the filming over the years. Climbing to the top not only shows you a breathtaking view of Split city, but you can also see where our beloved Khaleesi answers “injustice with injustice” by crucifying former rulers.

The fortress is also determined to parade itself as a filming location, boasting a room full of pictures of the cast filming on set, and a paper Drogon hanging from the ceiling, honouring Daenarys as the “Mother of Dragons”.

Diocletian Palace: Being the Breaker of Chains in Daenarys’ throne room

Having spent the morning hiking, I took the afternoon to wander through the Diocletian Palace. Constructed by Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century, the 1700-year-old monument remains the city’s most famous site. While the palace’s upper levels did not survive, the underground tunnels remain fully intact and visitors can now walk through its eerie basements.

This is also where several shots of the interior of Meereen city were filmed. These include where Daenarys sit in her throne room, where she trained her dragons and where she ruthlessly gave the order to “kill the masters” in Season 4, and when dozens of slaves sit around a fire discussing whether they should fight for her.

Pile Gate: Welcoming Westeros visitors at the Port

Done with the city of Split, I caught a bus to Dubrovnik, often dubbed as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” and with good reason. Widely touted for its film shots in King’s Landing, tourism and prices of accommodation have greatly increased over the years.

This cemented my decision to stay in an Airbnb room to save money, and the host repeatedly told me he saw the cast of Game of Thrones filming over the last few years throughout my correspondence with him.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Pile Gate right outside my apartment. Once a key transport hub for seafarers arriving in the western part of the city, it features views of both Dubrovnik Old Town and Lovrijenac Fortress. This is where Cersei had to bid farewell to her beloved daughter who got shipped off to Dorne, and where Littlefinger discussed escape plans with Sansa at the end of the jetty.

And who could forget, this is also where Season 2’s famous Battle of Blackwater was filmed!

Lovrijenac Fortress: Hanging out in the Red Keep

When the Croats heard the Venetians might invade them, they constructed a 12-metre thick wall 37 metres above sea level to create the illusion that there was a huge citadel to protect the city. It also doubles as the Red Keep of King Landing.

Scaling 175 stone steps rewards you with a postcard-worthy views of Dubrovnik quaint medieval Old Town, perched amidst the Adriatic Sea.

And that’s not all. I also learnt from my tour guide that this is where several interior palace scenes were filmed, namely, when worst-Lannister-ever Joffrey’s name day took place, where Cersei threatens creepy and cunning Lord Petyr Baelish, and where Tyrion Lannister teaches his nephew a lesson for being a coward, with a slap.

Dubrovnik Old Town: Embroiling in the politics of King’s Landing

The highlight of my fandom was actually walking through the gates of Dubrovnik Old Town, like a visiting Westerosi who stepped into the capital of the seven Kingdoms. The walled old city of Dubrovnik is a labyrinth of tiny lanes, medieval shophouses, stone steps, magnificent architecture, and also where producers filmed many scenes from King’s Landing.

The most prominent would be the Baroque stairs, just off Gundulićeva Poljana, which leads up to the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola and 17th-century Jesuit College. The infamous “Walk of Shame” scene in Season 5 took place on these stairs.

The other would be St Dominika Street, where several scenes take place including the murders of King Robert’s illegitimate sons. This is also the backdrop of scenes with the City Watch and Gold’s Watch strutting through the streets, and where the fighting to restore peace and order in King’s Landing occurred.

Mineeta Tower: Hovering outside the House of the Undying

The highest point of Dubrovnik Old Town is a tower boasting magnificent views across the city. The is also where the walls the House of the Undying, where Daenarys walks around trying to find the entrance, is located.

Walking along these high walls above the city also enables you to admire the orange rooftops, which are used to represent Game of Thrones stills of King’s Landing.

Lokrum Island: Exploring the City of Qarth

Catch a boat from the port and 10 minutes later, you’ll reach Lokrum Island. Legend has it that anyone who acquires it will cursed and visitors are not allowed to stay overnight on the island due to the long-held superstition.

The island is as mysterious as what it doubles for in Game of Thrones: the city of Qarth, ruled by “pureborns”, where our Khaleesi received an icy welcome.

While most of the scenes shot in Qarth were fully digital, some of the garden scenes were filmed in the botanical gardens on Lokrum and in the Former Benedictine monastery, which I stumbled across.

Trsteno Arboretum: Strategizing in the Palace Gardens 

As a fan of the Tyrells, I was thrilled to end my final Game of Thrones tour in Trsteno Arboretum, a lush botanical just 20 minutes from Dubrovnik facing the Adriatic Sea, where the “climate is a bit more forgiving”, just like Highgarden.

If your allegiance is with House Tyrell, you’ll be excited to know this is where the late Lady Olenna often discusses her political strategies with her grand daughter Margaery, and forms alliances with other characters. It is also where Margaery and Sansa formed a friendship, and she convinces Sansa that being married to Tyrion is not such a bad idea.

The Tyrells aren’t the only ones making appearances in this lovely garden. A path full of trees is where Tyrion welcomes the flamboyant Oberyn Martell to King’s Landing, and where Lord Varys pays Shae to leave the capital.

About Author

Ellyne Phneah
Ellyne Phneah

Elly is constantly on perpetual wanderlust. Having conquered 5 continents and 33 countries, she enjoys off-the-beaten-path places and filling her life with adventure and stories. Outside of travel, she is a closet geek, aspiring yogi and dancer, animal lover, and a die-hard Game of Thrones fan. Find her on Instagram @upyourelly


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