Croatia is to Game of Thrones what a Waikato hillside is to fans of The Hobbit. But what if your travel buddy isn’t a fan of the show? Here are a few of the GoT settings that are stunning in their own right.
It’s fitting that scenes from Game of Thrones are filmed at the 1700-year-old Diocletian’s Palace, in Split, Croatia’s second-largest city. The Emperor Diocletian – a third-century demagogue who ruled over the Roman Empire – would make a fine character in the fantasy series, bringing stability and prosperity to the empire during his 21-year-reign. The massive citadel he built to house himself in his retirement is today a stunning sight. Beneath the city, cavernous tunnels and basement rooms (once filled with rubbish) are now the setting for scenes involving Daenerys and her dragon.
Dubrovnik’s city walls
Dubrovnik – the gem of the Adriatic coast and a Unesco heritage site – plays the part of King’s Landing. A walk around the towering walls gives unparalleled views over the old city’s cobblestone streets and mottled ochre rooftops.
Many pivotal scenes have taken place on the limestone walls making a two-hour walk around the walls a must-do for GoT buffs – and for those of us not interested in the show, this is one of the great city views in the world. Take it in.
The Jesuit steps
Cersei Lannister’s naked “walk of shame” took her along the south side of Dubrovnik’s Gundulic Square. The filming had to be moved after conservative local leaders complained the location originally selected was too close to the Catholic Church of St Nicholas. It’s a dramatic scene and walking along the path she takes, you will pass some terrific stone detailing in the old buildings.
On the telly show, Lokrum Island plays the part of the city of Qarth. In real life, this stunning little reserve of peace and quiet is just 600m from the walls of Dubrovnik. Make an afternoon of it and join one of the local kayak tours.
Once you’re there, there’s a salt water lake at the southern end of the island and there’s also a nudist beach if you’re into that sort of thing. Cersei Lannister would feel right at home.
In Game of Thrones, this medieval fortress 20 minutes from Split was the scene of some particularly gruesome crucifixions, with Khaleesi punishing the Meereen by nailing them to crosses for all their slaves to see. It’s real-life history is no less grim. Tucked away amid the rugged Kozjak mountains, Klis was of great strategic value for many centuries in battles between Dalmatians and Ottoman invaders. It became the seat of Croatian kings and bore the brunt of many Ottoman attacks. In the early 16th century, the fort was under siege for more than two and a half decades.
Today, it’s a fabulous spot for hiking.