Diocletian’s Palace as the Slave City of Meereen

Game of Thrones Croatia Split

Diocletian’s Palace is not only a place filled with history and one of the sites included on the UNESCO Heritage list. It is not only the palace of a former Roman emperor. And it is not only the main attraction in Split, the second largest city in Croatia. Thanks to Game of Thrones, Diocletian’s Palace is now also known as part of Meereen, one of the city states conquered by  Daenerys Targaryen.

The territory where Croatia is now located, used to be known during Roman times as Illyria. It was here that the Roman emperor Diocletian chose to build a palace for himself, a home where he could spend his retirement years.

Northern Wall of Diocletian's Palace from the outside

Diocletian Palace Tour

The palace was built at the end of the 3rd century AD on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Diocletian wanted a palace by the water because he wanted his ships to be able to enter it. Hence, the palace had a water entrance which can now be visited as part of the basement. The windows in the lower rooms of the palace were built really close to the ceiling to avoid water coming in if it would rise. Nowadays, however, the ruins of the palace are surrounded by buildings with different architectures from different eras. The water has receded considerably throughout the centuries and the palace has lost its water proximity. 

Game of Thrones Croatia Split

Nevertheless, the palace is still an imposing structure. The whole complex used to occupy an area of 30,000 square meters during Diocletian’s time. It included not only the palace, but also the buildings where  the military garrisons used to have their lodgings. 

Today, around 3000 people live on the territory that used to belong to the old Diocletian Palace. The fortress reinvented itself in time and became part of the old city of Split, with cafes, shops and restaurants occupying the old palace buildings.

Diocletian’s Palace Game of Thrones Basement

In Game of Thones, Diocletian’s Palace doubles as the city of Meereen. Several scenes in the show were filmed in the catacombs and underground hallways that are still intact and functional underneath the palace (they are used sometimes as marketplace). 

Diocletian's Palace Game of Thrones

It is here that Daenerys Targaryen’s grand-looking Meereen throne room was located. It is also here, in the catacombs underneath the Diocletian’s Palace, that we see Daenerys locking up her enemies, as well as two of her dragons (after receiving complaints from some Meereen villagers). 

An important scene in Game of Thrones that involved the underground hallways of Diocletian’s Palace is the one where in season 4, episode 4, the slaves of Meereen decide whether or not they should turn against their masters and join Daenerys.

In this episode, we see a group of Unsullied soldiers making their ways though the water filled catacombs to reach the room where the slaves were being kept. The scene contains a defining moment in the series because it marks the beginning of Daenerys Targaryen’s rule in Meereen. 

Diocletian’s Palace Entrance Fee

Diocletian’s Palace is integral part of Split now and you don’t have to pay any fee to visit it. As you walk on the streets of the city, you will be able to pass by and even go inside many of the buildings that were once part of the palace. A fee of 40 Kunas (about $6 or 5 Euros)  will be asked from you when you want to visit the excavated parts of the basement, including the big basement hall where the water entrance used to be in Diocletian’s time.

So, if you are passing through Croatia, do try to visit Split and Diocletian’s Palace. Feel free to imagine how life might have been there during emperor Diocletian’s times. Or, if you are not into history that much, you can try to imagine that you are the powerful ruler of a fantasy city and the parent of three extinct, mythological, winged creatures… That should do the trick…

From Split, head to Trogir City of Qarth or Sibenik for more Game of Thrones experiences.

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