Croatia: Game of Thrones, Game of Chess

Spoiler alert: “Game of Thrones” is not real. Though, I fully support using it as a way to make Croatia an interesting destination. Even I couldn’t resist to sit on THE Throne. Spoiler alert: It’s not so comfortable.


As a tour guide, I should be happy when any destination becomes popular, anywhere in the world and especially in my country. Dubrovnik didn’t quite need additional publicity to become a popular destination, but it happened anyway, with a certain HBO series that kills its characters and shows us *bewbs* on a regular basis.

To all travelers who plan to come to Dubrovnik only because of the TV series, I say: Come to see King’s Landing, but stay for Dubrovnik. Consider it like a click-bait – you will not find a naked Cersei (but I wish you good luck with that); what you will find is a city with rich history and culture. And no, the city walls were not built for a TV series, it’s a medieval fortification system older than all of my regular readers combined.


This whole introduction is actually one long click-bait. While I do admire Jon Snow and especially the Dragon-Princess-with-a-Complicated-Name, it’s simply a story that has nothing to do with Croatia. So again, just like with Dubrovnik, I’ve used the popular game, “Game of Thrones” to get you interested about another, forgotten game, crucial in one of the oldest Croatian legends. Now, just looking at the next photo – that of the Croatian flag, what do you think that game could be…?


Yes, it’s chess. You guessed it – Congratulations! (and it’s in the title of this post so if you guessed it from there – Congratulations! You have a good memory!) You just won… well, nothing much than an old legend.

And maybe it’s not even an interesting one, but it’s Croatian, authentic and I encourage you, wherever you travel, to find “real” legends and real stories about countries, cities and places you visit. So here it goes…

The Legendary Croatian Chess Game

Once upon a time, somewhere in the 10th century, Croatia was a medieval kingdom and one of the king was Stephen Držislav. He was fighting Venetians over the lands of Dalmatia, our coastal region and he was captured. He was immediately put in prison in Venice. However, the doge (“leader” of the Venetians) learned that Croatian king Držislav played chess very well and he decided to challenge him – they would play three parties and if he managed to win, he would be free. And, of course, they played, Držislav won and it granted him freedom and not only this – in some versions of the legend, the victory in these chess parties granted him rule all over Dalmatia, without Venetian interference. When he returned to Croatia he decided to make chessboard (or checkerboard) his coat of arms and symbol of his people.


In real life, Dalmatia did have a big Venetian presence, always fighting with Croatians for the dominance in the region. Dubrovnik always somehow managed to stay independent, but that’s a story for another time… Regarding the chessboard, it really is our symbol even today. Some link it to a time before the great migrations when Croatians were living in the area of today’s Iran. But that’s also a story that will be featured here in the future.

In the meantime, I hope that you’re already making preparations to come to Croatia this year and visit the mesmerizing city of Dubrovnik.IMG_20170814_202618115

Stories about Croatia continue every week in March, one to two posts a week.

Every Friday a different story, with random posts somewhere in between. In April, my longer tours start so I will not be so present here probably.

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10 replies

  1. I’m actually off to Zadar with my mates this year! I’m convincing them to go to Dubrovnik for a day for Game of Thrones!


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