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"Qarth did not become the greatest city that ever was or ever will be by letting Dothraki savages through its gates."
―The Spice King to Daenerys Targaryen[src]
Qarth map

A map showing the location of Qarth on the continent of Essos.

Qarth walls

A view of Qarth's imposing walls.


A view of Qarth through the city's main gate.

Qarth is a great trading city located on the southern coast of Essos, on the straits linking the Summer Sea to the Jade Sea. Ships from Westeros, the Free Cities, the Summer Islands, and Slaver's Bay all pass through the Straits of Qarth on their way to the great trading cities of the Jade Sea, such as Yi Ti and Asshai. Unlike most cities in Essos, it has no fear of the Dothraki, as the forbidding and vast Red Waste divides it from the Dothraki sea.[1] Nor was Qarth ever conquered by the old Valyrian Freehold.[2] The Red Waste also separates Qarth from land-based travel with other parts of Essos, though it is a major port that conducts brisk maritime trade with major cities from Westeros to Asshai. An oasis city surrounded by this desert, Qarth has a tropical coastal climate.

Qarth is defended by immense stone walls and strong gates. The Qartheen have been known to bar entry to the city to those who do not meet their approval. The bones of those who were denied entry can be found extending around its walls. This area is sometimes called the "garden of bones".

The people of Qarth are known as the Qartheen. The people of Qarth call their home "The greatest city that ever was or will be." Qarth is ruled by a council of nobles and merchants known as the Thirteen. Although they rule by consensus, a member of the Thirteen can overrule the decision of the rest by invoking sumai, pledging their life and their blood to back up their decision.[3]


Season 1

Doreah of Lys, a pleasure slave and handmaiden in the service of Daenerys Targaryen, relates a story she heard from a trader from Qarth who visited her brothel. The Qartheen man said that the moon was an egg, and that there used to be a second one, but it strayed too close to the heat of the sun and cracked open, releasing a thousand thousand dragons.[4]

Season 2

Daenerys Targaryen and her khalasar are dying of thirst in the Red Waste. She dispatches her three bloodriders in search of succor.[5] Kovarro finds his way to the city of Qarth, located three days to the east, and guides Daenerys there. Outside she is greeted by the Thirteen, but when she refuses to show them her dragons they attempt to bar her entry. Xaro Xhoan Daxos overrides the decision of the council and takes Daenerys and her people under his protection.[6]

Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Pyat Pree of the Warlocks of Qarth stage a coup in the city, assassinating the other members of the Thirteen and securing Daenerys's dragons for their own purpose, imprisoning them in the House of the Undying, the warlocks' tower.[7] Daenerys later rescues her dragons, apparently killing Pyat Pree with dragonfire, before sealing Xaro Xhoan Daxos in his own vault as revenge for his subterfuge.[8]

Notable residents of the city


Behind the scenes

At the Game of Thrones panel for San Diego Comic-Con 2012, actress Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) jokingly gave the explanation to author George R.R. Martin that she didn't wear the breast-exposing Qarth dresses as described in the books because it was a "warmth issue".[9] The real reason, as Clarke explained in a separate interview with, was that it was felt that having Daenerys spending entire scenes wearing a dress that left one breast exposed would detract from the integrity of the drama and of Daenerys as a character:

"I remember when I was filming in Croatia seeing a copy of book 2, and the front cover picture was of Dany in the ‘traditional Qartheen fashion’ and you could say that I was rather taken aback. There are lots of things to bear in mind when adapting a book for the screen, and yes we all agreed that if this was kept as a visual reference, it would take away from the drama and integrity of Dany’s storyline as she grows into such a strong Khalessi."[10]

According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, "Qarth" is pronounced "QUARTH". However, in "Garden of Bones" when Daenerys first pronounces it as "Kwarth" she is corrected by the Spice King that it is actually "KARTH", and this is the pronunciation used on-screen throughout the TV series.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Qarth is a great and immensely rich city which guards the Straits of Qarth (also called the Jade Gates), which connect the Summer Sea to the Jade Sea. Trade ships travel from Westeros to Asshai and back again via Qarth carrying varied cargoes. The city's landward side is protected by a parched desert known as the Red Waste, which even the Dothraki fear to cross. Dothraki refer to the Qartheen people, who are known for their pale skin, as "Milk Men"

The city is ruled by a council known as the Pureborn, though in practice the council has to balance its interests against those of three powerful guilds, the Thirteen, the Ancient Guild of Spicers, and the Tourmaline Brotherhood. Qarth is protected by the Civic Guard and a strong navy. The rulers of the city are advised by the highly enigmatic warlocks of Qarth, who dwell in the forbidding House of the Undying.

The Qartheen pride themselves on their sophistication and consider weeping in times of strong emotion to be a mark of civilization. The Qartheen fashion for women leaves one breast exposed, while men favor beaded silk skirts. They seat themselves on cushions on the floor. Daenerys Targaryen adopts Qartheen dress while she is the guest of Xaro Xhoan Daxos.


See also


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