Trsteno Arboretum, located about 24 km (15 miles) from Dubrovnik, was used as the setting in the Game of Thrones Seasons 3&4. It is mostly associated with the scenes involving the powerful family from the Reach, the Tyrells which made it earn the famous nickname the “Tyrell (High)Garden”. Aside from its Game of Thrones appeal, the Arboretum is truly a hidden gem, well worth a visit in case you happen to be in Dubrovnik.
Spanning over 70 acres with over 450 species of plant life, the Trsteno Arboretum is the oldest and biggest monument of garden architecture in Croatia. The Arboretum, officially established in 1948, was originally a summer estate that used to belong to the Dubrovnik aristocratic family Gucetic-Gozze. Its founder Ivan M. Gucetic-Gozze was a wealthy Dubrovnik shipowner and a merchant who had a bold idea to build his summer residence in the secluded and sparsely populated part of Dubrovnik Riviera in the late 15th century.
The construction of the estate was a formidable engineering effort for its era as Gucetic-Gozze managed to transform the once barren and unattractive stoney piece of land into a vast complex of lush Renaissance gardens. In that time the roads to Dubrovnik were nonexistent so all the necessary material for the construction had to be transported by his merchant ships to the tiny port below the estate. The much needed fertile soil for the gardens was imported from all over the Mediterranean as he ordered his captains to load the empty ships with dirt after selling the cargo. Along with the dirt, the captains also brought the seeds of different plants from various places where they sailed which were later planted in the gardens, thus enriching the diversity of the plant life. This introduction of exotic species continued over centuries so now the Arboretum boasts myriads of Asian and American plants which are harmoniously interwoven with the characteristic Mediterranean cultures.
The soil was protected from the erosion through the construction of a carefully planned system of terrace gardens supported by dry limestone walls. In order to provide enough water for the gardens, a near-by stream was diverted into a 70-meter long aqueduct, thus creating an exotic oasis in the midst of rugged arid landscape. The whole estate was laid out in a single axis composition which ordered all the relevant architectonic elements one after another: the aqueduct leads to a fountain with a pond, which is then followed by a shady green loggia, the chapel, the villa and finally the iconic gazebo recognizable from the scenes with Lady Olenna. The gazebo boasts spectacular views of the Elaphiti archipelago and the turquoise expanse of the Adriatic Sea so it doesn’t surprise that Dame Diana Rigg enjoyed filming these scenes in the Arboretum:
The estate was damaged in the colossal earthquake in 1667 when the original Renaissance fountain had to be replaced by a Baroque Neptune’s fountain. The area around the fountain and the pond was also used during the filming, but the fountain with the Neptune’s grotto had to be covered with green screen for obvious reasons. Although the features of this beautiful fountain were obscured this part of Arboretum has been extremely popular with the producers and has appeared at least three times in the show.
Apart from the mentioned locations, there is also a number of other familiar points in the Arboretum that were used in the show, as well as some interesting points that depict the bygone days in the estate, such as the traditional old olive oil press. Therefore, if you’re staying in Dubrovnik for longer than one day, add a visit to Trsteno on your to do list, as The Game of Thrones tour is not really complete without the “Tyrell Garden”. 🙂