Welcome to Kings Landing!

Croatia hosts on of the main locations in the iconic Game of Thrones HBO original series, the fictional place called Kings Landing. This city was written to be home of the Iron Throne, for which most of the characters will fight to keep and become the Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.

Scouting for the series found the perfect location in Dubrovnik, Croatia, a picturesque town on the Dalmatian Coast, also know as the Pearl of the Adriatic and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Already a famous tourist location for its beautiful sea views and colourful red rooftops. The late-medieval walled city has an exceptional Old Town with beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains.

Here is a list of locations in Croatia where many scenes where filmed and almost no CGI was needed, now there is nothing going to stop you from visiting Croatia and feel like you are inside the GoT series.

1. Walls of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s city walls (Seaside, west and Bokar Fortress Walls) are a series of defensive stone walls that stretch completely around Old Town, which reach a maximum height of about 25 metres and can be of 4 to 6 meters thick, because they were built to protect the city and act as a defence against artillery fire.

The outer walls of Dubrovnik look as if they were built for this TV show, to represent a city that acted as a line of defence against foreign invaders. It’s clear that CGI (computer-generated imagery) was used to transform these real locations into the world of Game of Thrones, but even so it’s still very recognisable as Dubrovnik. In most cases when people walk around the city, they may not notice that the walls beside them were an important part of King’s Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms.

2. Minčeta Tower

The base of Minčeta Tower was used as the exterior of House of Undying in the town of Qarth. It is the place where Daenerys Targaryen walks around trying to find the entrance into the House of Undying looking for her stolen dragons in season two.

This is the most prominent and thick part of Dubrovnik’s walls. The tower Minčeta is the highest point of the walls which offers an unforgettable view on the old town of Dubrovnik. The tower’s name derives from the name of the Mencetic family, who owned the ground upon which the tower was built. Minčeta is the most beautiful and remarkable fort of Dubrovnik and often regarded as the symbol of the city.

3. Trsteno Arboretum

The Trsteno Arboretum covers an area of 25 hectares. It was established at the end of the fifteenth century as a park and summer residence of the patrician family Gučetić-Gozze.

Arboretum Trsteno was home for the beautiful gardens of King’s Landing and is one of the major filming locations of the Game of Thrones series, where all the main protagonists weave their plots and exchange secrets.

4. Jesuit Staircase

These play the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing, which you can remember from the iconic scene in season five “Walk of Shame”, in which Cersei Lannister was forced to walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing. These magnificent and elegant Baroque stairs are located on the south side of Gundulic Square. The steps lead up to the Uz Jezuite Street, where the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius and two of Dubrovnik’s colleges are located.

5. Island of Lokrum

The Game of Thrones production team used the Island of Lokrum as a set for the city of Qarth near the Jade Sea, which is visited by Daenerys Targaryen in season two. Some of the garden scenes were filmed in the botanical gardens on Lokrum and in the Former Benedictine monastery.

Lokrum island covers 72 hectares and is located on the eastern Croatian coast, near the city of Dubrovnik. About 15 minutes are needed to get there by a water-taxi which sales from the old city harbour.

6. Ethnographic Museum Rupe

The exterior of Littlefinger’s brothel. This museum contains folk costumes and textile work, all that date back to the 16th century. In this impressive building the Dubrovnik Republic kept all the state reserves of grain in deep silos carved out of stone called Rupe. The exterior of this museum doubles as the brothel of Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger) where Tyrion Lannister meets Oberyn Martell in season four. The residential area close to the museum is also a place where the High Septon is forced to walk naked through the street by a group of Sparrows in season five.

7. Ploče Gate

Used as the Red Keep Gate. The east entrance to the Old Town Dubrovnik, Ploče Gate was built in Romanesque style of the 14th century. Above the entrance of the Gate there is a statue of Sveti Vlaho, the patron saint of Dubrovnik. The gate consists of an inner and outer section and incorporates a stone bridge. Cersei Lannister walked over this bridge to enter the Red Keep after her walk of shame at the end of season five.

8. Rector’s Palace

The residence of the Spice King in Qarth.  The scene in season two where Daenerys Targaryen asks the Spice King of Qarth for ships to take her army across the Narrow sea is shot in the external parts of Reactor’s Palace. This palace was built in the late 15th century for the elected rector who governed Dubrovnik at the time.

9. Fort Lovrijenac

This is the scenario for the Red Keep in King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. Lots of the scenes are filmed at this Fort including the tournament thrown in honour of King Joffrey’s name day in season two. It is located at the western side of the Old Town, outside the city walls on a 37 meters high cliff. It’s also known as “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”.

10. Pile Gate

Pile is a meeting point for both visitors and locals, and it represents the main entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old Town. From Pile you can also enjoy the views over a nearby small fishing harbour which is located between Bokar and Lovrijenac fortress.

Karlovac: Fun facts about the city on four rivers

Karlovac has a great importance due to a long history which makes it as unique as it is beautiful. This quaint little city hidden in west Croatia has many names, “the town on four rivers” and “the city of parks” because of its amount of green areas and its specific location at the confluence of four rivers.

As a city founded to protect the Austrian south line of defense, it was a fortress built as a protection against the Ottoman Empire, and originally designed as such, it was given its very distinctive six pointed star shape, which would later become the characteristic feature for this town.

From its original inauguration date in 1579 to today, Karlovac has had an interesting development, all of which has contributed to making the city even more culturally rich and a historic landmark in Europe.

Here are five interesting facts you have to know about this place:


1. It was attacked seven times by the Ottoman Empire

The Turks had their minds set to attack Karlovac, since it was a strategic town that stood in their way to conquer the Austrian territory. It laid this small city under siege seven times, the last being in 1672, but they could never occupy it.

After all, Karlovac was built specifically with the purpose of defending and not letting the ottomans go through. The six pointed star shape was followed by a grid around the central square, surrounded by shops and buildings, in case an army actually got pass their stronghold. This strategic layout had to be consolidated, and for this objective, it was surrounded by six bastions connected by high compacted dirt embankments and an outer network of excavated moats.

2. It was named capital of Croatia

In a brief period of time that spanned from the late 19th to the early 20th century, Napoleon conquered the areas that now represent Slovenia, Istria, the Karlovac-Lika region, and the Adriatic coast all the way to Dubrovnik. When he added this area to his empire, Napoleon called it the Illyrian Provinces which were divided into districts or departments, and he appointed Karlovac as the “capital” of the department of Croatia.

3. Duvobac castle

Now what is perhaps the well-known tourist sight to visit, has always been on dispute. It sits upon a hill overlooking the town and although there is no clear date to its construction, historians argue it was probably around the 13th century.

Across the centuries, it has had numerous noble owners, including the prestigious Zrinski and Frankopan families. Their dynasties are among the most famous Croatian noble families, who fought bravely to protect their nation and people against foreign invaders. They are hailed as Croatian national heroes, who selflessly gave their lives for the love of their country. Their castle also served for the Croatian army and was besieged but never conquered.

4. It played a key role in Croatia’s War of Independence

The war (1991-1995) began as a way to get freedom from the Socialistic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and become a sovereign country.

Karlovac, with a southern border in close proximity to the front lines between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Serbian Krajina, suffered damage during the Croatian War of Independence. Several neighbourhoods were destroyed and many buildings around the citty center and city hall also had a lot of damage.

Official figures on wartime damage published in Croatia in 1996 specify 180,000 destroyed housing units, 25% of the Croatian economy destroyed, and US$27 billion of material damage.

This damage can still be seen at the museums of war created in Croatia. For instance, the Karlovac City Museum transformed the old Austrian military barracks of Turanj into a museum exhibition dedicated to the military history of Karlovac and in particular, through the exhibited weapons, of the Croatian War of Independence.

The City Museum, Galerija Vjekoslave Karas and Dubovac Castel also show pieces of the story that unravelled during the war.

5. Karlovac has great scenery for movies

With beautiful landscapes of mountains, green open spaces and rivers, as well as it’s renaissance style of architecture, this town is a perfect location to shoot movies, TV series and music videos.

At first, Michael Jackson put it on the map with his music video “Earth Song”, which was released in 1995 and shot in four locations around the globe. It dealt with subjects of environment and animal welfare with scenes of illegal poaching, destruction of the rainforest and war. The war scenes were shot where the Karlovac City Museum currently lays, to show the destruction visible in the suburb of Turanj which was practically levelled over the four years of fighting.

Most recently, it was one of the locations for the movie Renegades (2017) and will soon be part of the film about Nikola Tesla (pre-production) , a character that actually attended school in Karlovac, and completed a four year course in three years with honours. It was there that young Tesla was inspired to follow the path of electrical engineer by the experiments and demonstrations of his physics professor; Martin Sekulić.

  1. Each of these pieces of Karlovac history make a remarkable picture of this city, making us want to go there and get lost between the star shaped streets, to feel a little of the history embedded in its walls and experience an adventure deserving to be part of Karlovac’s history books.

5 things you can do in Karlovac

If you have never heard of Karlovac, and you are looking for a place off the beaten path to travel and unplug from all things touristic and familiar, this city is the perfect choice for you.

In the central region of Croatia, there lies an ancient city commonly known as “the city on four rivers”, as it is located on the confluence of the rivers Kupa, Korana, Mrežnica and Dobra, four tributaries of the Danube. These waterways were the first line of defence against any threat that could come to the town, and, they made the city an important trading center. 

Begun in 1579, Karlovac was designed as a “Renaissance town”, that is, with a careful attention to beauty and harmony. The old town is in the shape of a six-pointed star, divided into 24 blocks of equal size.

Its history began as a fortress city built specially to be part of a line of castles and forts that stretched out along where the Hungarian border is today. It was Charles II, the archduke of Austria, that decided to build a fortress so the city would be impenetrable to menaces such as the Ottoman Empire. This city was named after its leader and his creation, “Karlstadt” in German. “Charlestown” in English. “Karlovac” in Croatian. 

Nowadays, it has become an excellent destination to get away from everything, to see beautiful landscapes framed with castles and be closer to nature. Here is a list of the things you should try while in Karlovac: 

1. Visit the Catholic cemetery in Dubovac 

Near Karlovac, beneath the walls of the ancient city of Dubovac, which dates back to the 12th century, is the Catholic cemetery, which was founded in 1820 on the same site where the dead from the plagues were buried in the 17th and 18th centuries. For its decoration they followed the example of the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb. Walking through these cemeteries is like walking through an open-air museum, a park with sculptures and the place where the history of Karlovac is written.

The family mausoleums at the entrance as well as the All Saints Chapel, which represent the best examples of Karlovac’s architectural heritage. There you can visit the stone sculpture of the Tired Traveller, who came here to have a rest from life. 

2. Visit the freshwater aquarium and river museum – Aquatika 

Since this city’s history is strongly linked to the four rivers that surround it, they decided to take on the massive project of building a freshwater museum called Aquatika. Its unique design that imitates the flow of a river, with glass walls and entire underground sections, makes it a very attractive sight to improve tourism in Karlovac and fuel the local economy. 

Aquatika has more than 100 fish species, the exhibition in the aquarium shows the flora and fauna of Croatian rivers and their ecosystems, geological history, traditional culture and the history of the four rivers in the Karlovac basin. The layout follows the flow of a typical karst river, along with its flora, fauna and biodiversity.

3. See Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Plitvice National Park is a UNESCO heritage site and the place where the whims of nature have given us one of the most spectacular green corners in Europe. It is the star of Croatia’s natural heritage with about one million visits per year.

The sixteen lakes in the park overlap each other creating multiple waterfalls. The tour of the park can last seven hours and is suitable for a walk without damaging the environment through wooden platforms that cross waterfalls, caves and lakes. The largest of these can be crossed with a small electric boat and wooden boats can also be rented. The clarity of the water is striking, allowing you to see the fish as if they were behind glass. There are numerous tours that take you from Karlovac to the park and you can also book them online in advance. 

4. Visit the Open-Air Museum of War 

In Turanj (a suburb of Karlovac) is located the War Museum of this city. Located 58 km southeast of Zagreb and on the way to the Plitvice lakes, where the war started, this part of Croatia suffered one of the hardest battles of the Ex-Yugoslavia War and Karlovac became a symbol of Croatian resistance to the Serbian advance. The museum is out in the open, and it is a very sensitive place, because you can clearly see artefacts used on this painful war like tanks, planes and ammunition. 

Also, a few ruined houses belong to the museum, and they are the memory of this decisive moment in Croatia’s life. The surrounding areas and houses also show the remains of a long-gone war. 

5. Dubovac Castle

One of the most important attractions of the city is the Dubovac Castle, placed atop a hill, with beautiful views of the city and the four rivers. Its architectural style is a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic architecture. The guard tower houses a permanent exhibition of historical records that tell the turbulent history of the fortress. Dubovac attracts visitors all year round, but the busiest period is in mid-May during the Lordship Fair, when the castle and its surroundings regain their medieval appearance. Walking among medieval knights and craftsmen, tasting the ancient gastronomy, having fun with traditional activities, trying your luck with archery, being a “victim” of the castle’s executioner, visiting the Turkish military camps, or attending the sword fighting exhibitions are some of the activities you can experience in Dubovac Castle.

Finally, there are many things you can do depending on your budget, style and holiday goals. But never take Karlovac for granted, it can offer many things including The Beer Days, a festival known as the “Croatian Oktoberfest” or even tours that show you the best local cheese. 

It is a quaint city to forget about the hundreds of thousands of tourists flooding the streets of Paris, Rome, London and to help you spend an unforgettable time in one of the most unexpected corners of Europe.