Much to fans’ dismay, the Seven Kingdoms don’t actually exist in real life. However, unlike other shows, Game of Thrones did their filming in real-life places, which means you can visit where some of your favorite shots were taken.
Similar to how the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand and the Indiana Jones film series was shot all over the world, the Game of Thrones series were filmed in various parts of Croatia. And, many fans know that the historic city of Dubrovnik serves as the location for King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. By Season 5 of the show, filming had expanded as far as the central city, Šibenik.
Šibenik was used by the show as a double for the show’s city Braavos. Braavos is the wealthiest and most powerful of the Free Cities, and is located on the northwestern end of Essos. It is here that the Faceless Men, Iron Bank and Moonsingers are found. Fortunately for you, you can visit all of these famous sites. Šibenik itself is a lovely Renaissance city, full of eating and drinking options and well worth an overnight stay. Here’s your guide to Šibenik.
Getting to Šibenik
Getting to Šibenik is fairly easy. You can take a bus from major cities like Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Split, Zadar and Zagreb and end up at Šibenik’s bus station, which is walking distance from the town’s center. Here are the prices, frequencies and cost of traveling by bus to the city.
- Dubrovnik to Šibenik: this trip, which runs at least twice daily, takes 6 ½ hours and costs around 148 Croatian Kuna
- Split to Šibenik: this trip, which runs 12 times daily, takes 1 ½ hours and costs around 48 Croatian Kuna
- Rijeka to Šibenik: this trip, which runs at least four times daily, takes 6 ½ hours and costs around 200 Croatian Kuna
- Zagreb to Šibenik: this trip, which runs at least once an hour every day, takes 5-7 hours and costs at least 132 Croatian Kuna
- Zadar to Šibenik: this trip, which runs at least hourly, takes 1 ½ hours and costs around 43 Croatian Kuna
If you’re trying to travel to Šibenik from Knin, you’ll have to take a train. The train runs four times daily, takes just under 2 hours and costs around 54 Croatian Kuna.
Seeing the Landmarks
Listed in this section are the sights you’ll want to see if you’re a true GOT fan. Each landmark will include history on the filming location, and will include prime travel information—so don’t just skim. You’ll want to really read!
St. James Cathedral as House of Black and White and Iron Bank
Braavos’ main square is the real-life main square of the UNESCO-listed St. James Cathedral, and where Arya Stark followed Bravoosi. The cathedral serves as the House of Black and White (Arya’s new home in season 5). It’s also used as the Iron Bank in episode 9. While many in the town were excited to have the hit TV show be shot in their city, others were less thrilled. Those who weren’t so keen on the filming included church officials, who were especially upset that sacral buildings, like St. James Cathedral, was being filmed for a show that they considered to be not in keeping with Christian belief. Regardless of the discontented grumblings, the filming obviously still happened. You’ll be able to visit this historical church between 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the price of 20 Croatian Kuna for adults and at no cost for children.
The church itself is said to be the world’s largest church build completely out of stone—and there aren’t any brick or wooden supports. The stone used for the church was quarried from the islands of Brač, Korčula, Rab and Krk. The master designer, Juraj Dalmatinac, of the renowned church also made sure that the church’s interior and exterior shape is exactly matching.
Construction on this masterpiece began in 1431, but the city didn’t appoint Dalmatinac until 10 years later, when he took over and increased the size of the building as well as changed the style into a Gothic-Renaissance style. The church’s domed-roof was completed after Dalmatinac died, by Nikola Firentinac, an architect who brought the building into true Renaissance style. Nearly 100 years after construction began on the church, it was finally completed in 1536.
Beyond its beautiful construction, the church holds many beautiful artifacts, portraits and architectural features that weren’t featured on the show—so you’re sure to get your money’s worth by paying a visit to St. James Cathedral.
St. Michael’s Fortress
Located at 70m above sea level, St. Michael’s Fortress offers you unreal views of the city of Šibenik (Braavos). It’s a hike, but if you climb all the way to the top of the fortress, you’ll be able to see beautiful views of the city, and it’s easy to transport yourself to the fictional city of Braavos. The fortress was first built in 998 as a means to protect the entrance to the bay. From inception until the 16th century, the fortress was expanded, destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. At that time, it was restored completely and transformed into the massive tourist icon it is today. The fortress is home to one of the region’s most prestigious open-air stages and hosts a variety of musical and theatrical events. Hours vary, so be sure to check online before you make plans to go visit the fortress. The admission fees are as follows: 50 Kuna for adults, 30 Kuna for children ages 5-18, 110 Kuna for families (parents and unlimited number of children under 18) and no cost for children under the age of 5. For an additional fee, you can reserve a guided tour of the fortress as well.
Your first views of Braavos are of the small fisherman’s port called Mandroc, as Arya Stark enters the fictional city-state. If you care to visit this port, be mindful that it is an actual fisherman’s port—so it will be pretty busy. Plan to make a brief stop and grab a meal or snack along the port. The views of the crystal-blue water and the interactions with local townspeople will be well worth the trip.
St. John’s Fortress
St. John’s Fortress was used in episode 7 of the season. An area at the top of St John’s fortress was set up as a fighting pit in the city of ‘Meereen’. ‘Meereen’ is the greatest of three City States in the Game of Thrones’ Bay of Dragons. The ‘Meereen fighting pits are where Jorah, as a slave, defeats a number of fighters, at the end of which he reveals his identity and presents her with a ‘gift’ (Tyrion). In real life, St. John’s fortress is located 115m above the town’s center on a hill. It was originally built in 1646 as a means to protect the town against Turkish attacks. Venetian military engineer, Atonio Leni, ordered construction to be in the form of a star. It’s rumored that construction lasted only six weeks, because the townspeople were so afraid of a Turkish attack that they helped build the fortress.
The fortress is currently undergoing much-needed restorations, as it’s definitely seen better days, but there are rumors that the fortress’s doors may be permanently closed. Prior to the doors closing, visitors could go inside the fortress to sightsee and grab a bite to eat at the café. While you can still walk around the outside of the fortress (and get great views of the city), if you’re dying to see the inside, you’re going to have to check with locals to find out when construction will be finished. The upside to the fortress’s doors closing is that you can visit the site at no cost, as you’ll just be looking on the outside of the fortress. Be mindful that it is a very steep hike to get up to the top.
Other GOT Views
Although GOT didn’t shoot at any other locations in Šibenik, the series did still take shots through the streets. That means that you can fully immerse yourself in GOT shots just by taking a walk throughout the town. And, since you’re already in town to view your GOT locations, you might as well check out a couple of Šibenik’s other top attractions:
- Šibenik City Museum: This museum is housed in the Rector’s Palace and contains artifacts from more than four different time periods. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sundays. It is closed on Monday. The cost of admission for adults is 30 Kuna and for children is 10 Kuna.
- Medieval Monastery Mediterranean Garden: If you’re on your way up to St. Michael’s Fortress, you should seriously consider making a pit stop at this garden. The recreated small medieval garden features a formal garden and café. In peak travel season, it’s open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., with group tours costing 15 Kuna for adults and 10 Kuna for children.
Šibenik is a beautiful Croatian city, so it’s no surprise that the GOT writers decided to feature the city in its series. Use this as your guide to seeking out the spots you’ve come to love just by watching the show, but don’t be afraid to immerse yourself with the locals—you’ll never know what you might find unless you try it!