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Mercantile, Port, city-state
Qarth HBO.jpg
Location Essos
Government Pureborn , Oligarchy.
Religion Mixed religions
Founded in ancient times.
Notable places House of the Undying, Hall of a Thousand Thrones, Temple of Memory, The triple walls of Qarth
Organizations Thirteen, Tourmaline Brotherhood, Ancient Guild of Spicers, Sorrowful Men, Warlocks

Qarth is the greatest city that ever was or ever will be.[1]

Pyat Pree

Qarth is an ancient port city located on the southern coast of Essos. Situated on the Jade Gates in a central location between the Summer and Jade Seas, Qarth is a gateway of commerce and culture between the east and west, and the north and south.[1] Brimming with wealth, the city's architecture makes a grand display. It is home to warlocks and merchant princes, and nominally ruled by the Pureborn. However, the powerful guilds of the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood and the Ancient Guild of Spicers all attempt to play a role in the governance of the city. It has been referred to as the Queen of Cities.[2] Qarth was never part of the Valyrian Freehold.

About the City

See also: Images of Qarth


Qarth is located to the southeast of Lhazar and the red waste and southwest of the Bone Mountains. Just east of Qarth is the small island of Qal, while the large island Great Moraq is to the south. The great slaver cities Meereen, Astapor, and Yunkai are further to the west of Qarth.

Qarth is on the Jade Gates, which link the Summer Sea to the fabled Jade Sea. The Sand Road connects Qarth north to Bayasabhad, while other routes lead east to Asabhad and west to Qarkash.[3] Qarth's prime position makes it the gateway between the lands of Westeros, Free Cities and Slaver's Bay, and more eastern lands such as Asshai, the Shadow Lands, and Yi Ti. Qarth has been described as the center of the world.[1]

The power of Qarth extends west to Qarkash and Port Yhos and at least as far east as Qal. Several Qartheen colonies to the north were destroyed by the Dothraki during the Century of Blood, however. These include the ruins of Vaes Orvik, Vaes Shirosi, Vaes Qosar, and possibly Vaes Tolorro.[4]

Vast Wealth

Having managed to successfully remain the crucial commerce point for centuries, Qarth is absolutely brimming with wealth; the city's architecture makes a grand display. Its buildings painted in shades of rose, violet, and umber. Its streets are lined with bronze statues, its fountains carved to form the shapes of fantastic creatures, and its thoroughfares lined with arches of bronze decorated in precious stones.


Qarth is nominally ruled by the Pureborn, who are seated in the Hall of a Thousand Thrones. They deal with all matters of civic importance, commanding the 'Civic Guard' and the fleet of ornate war galleys which rule the straits between the seas. However, the powerful guilds of the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood and the Ancient Guild of Spicers all attempt and jostle to play a role in the governance and political machinations of the city.


Buildings in Qarth crowd about as a fever dream in shades of rose, violet, and umber. Decoration includes a bronze arch fashioned in the likeness of two snakes mating, their scales are delicate flakes of jade, obsidian and lapis lazuli. Slim towers stand tall, and elaborate fountains fill every square, wrought in the shapes of griffins and dragons and manticores.

There is a great arcade where the heroes of the city stand three times as large as they did in life atop columns of green and white marble.[1] There is a cavernous building whose latticework ceiling is home to a thousand gaily coloured birds. Trees and flowers bloom on the terrace walls above the bazaar’s stalls, while below it seems as if everything the gods have put into the world is for sale.

  • Hall of a Thousand Thrones, the seat of government in Qarth. The Pureborn rule from this place, sitting atop their wooden chairs, rising in curved tiers. It has marble floors and a high-domed ceiling painted with past events from Qarth's history. The chairs are large, carved and gilded with goldwork, lapis, onyx, jade and amber. No two are the same.[5]
  • Temple of Memory, the site of traditional sacrifices.[5]
  • House of the Undying, the center of power for the warlocks of Qarth. It is also known colloquially as the Palace of Dust.[6]


The city possesses one of the greatest ports in the world. It is a sheltered harbor full of colours, with large stone quays reserved for the ships of the various trade guilds and at the far end of the harbor are the quays left for the ships that come from a far.[7]

Winesinks, warehouses, gaming dens, cheap brothels, and temples to peculiar gods all cluster together. All manner of people from cutpurses and cutthroats to spellsellers and moneychangers mingle amongst folk hawking their wares at the waterfront that acts like a massive never-closing marketplace where goods (usually stolen) can be had at a fraction of what they cost at a bazaar.[6]

Qarth city walls


Qarth is surrounded by three thick walls of thirty, forty, and fifty feet in height, respectively engraved with portraits of animals, war, and lovemaking. [1] The triple walls of Qarth is one of the nine wonders made by man reported in the book, Wonders Made by Man, by Lomas Longstrider[8]

  • Outer wall - the outer wall is made of red sandstone, 30 feet high and decorated with animals; snakes slithering, kites flying, fish swimming, intermingled with wolves of the red waste and striped zorses and monstrous elephants .
  • Middle wall - the middle wall of grey granite, 40 feet high, it is alive with scenes of war: the clash of sword and shield and spear, arrows in flight, heroes at battle and babes being butchered, pyres of the dead.
  • Innermost wall – the innermost wall is made black marble 50 feet high, it is carved with scenes of lovemaking which make Dany blush.

The cities outer gates are banded with copper, the middle with iron and the innermost gates studded with golden eyes. All opened at Daenerys Targaryen’s approach.

The three walls of Qarth have not been used for defense in centuries, but they still stand, representing the power of the city.


The Qartheen trade in slaves and practice slavery in the city. They consider slavery very essential to their civilization and have no qualms about its existence, as Xaro Xhoan Daxos said to Daenerys,

...the magnificence that is the Queen of Cities [Qarth] rests upon the backs of slaves. Ask yourself, if all men must grub in the dirt for food, how shall any man lift his eyes to contemplate the stars? If each of us must break his back to build a hovel, who shall raise the temples to glorify the gods? For some men to be great, others must be enslaved.[2]


Qartheen spice ships can be as big as palaces.[9]

The Qartheen camelry riders wear scaled copper armour and snouted helms with copper tusks and long black silk plumes. They sit high on saddles inlaid with rubies and garnets. Their camels are dressed in blankets of a hundred different hues. [1] A column of camelry emerge from the city as Daenerys’s honour guards upon her arrival.

While traveling in her palanquin after being refused by the Pureborn Dany notices that outside the great city murmurs and thrums and seethes, all its myriad voices blending into one low sound like the surge of the sea. [5]

When Khal Drogo was alive he dreamt of the day when he might sack the great cities of the east – Qarth included.

People of Qarth

General Populace

The Qartheen are a tall and pale people, called the 'Milk Men' by the Dothraki for their complexion. [1] They 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. Warriors of Qarth wear scaled, copper armor and snouted-helms with copper tusks and long, black silk plumes and some of its guards ride camels.[1]

They seat themselves on cushions on the floor.[1] Wealthy merchant of Qarth sometimes place jewels in their nose.[7]

The Undying of Qarth

Qarth is most famous for its warlocks, known as the Undying of Qarth, who are feared and respected throughout the East. Like the Alchemists' Guild of the Seven Kingdoms, however, the warlocks' power and prestige have waned over the years. Most warlocks have blue lips. They drink shade-of-the-evening, which makes their lips turn blue.[1] The warlocks stronghold and seat of power is the House of the Undying, which house the Undying Ones, the most mysterious and likely the most ancient and powerful of all warlocks.[1]

There is a saying in Qarth concerning the warlocks:

A warlock's house is built of bones and lies.[1]

Sorrowful Men

Qarth is also home to a guild of assassins known as the Sorrowful Men, who whisper, "I am so sorry," just before they kill their victims.[5] The Qartheen are nothing if not polite.



Husbands and wives retain their possessions after marriage, however there is a marriage custom on the day of the wedding. A groom may ask for any one item from his bride’s possessions and the bride may ask for any one item of the groom’s possessions. Whatever is asked by either cannot be refused and is considered to now belong to the other. This is seen as a gift of devotion by the bride and groom to each other. [5]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Samwell Tarly mentions the city to Jon Snow, telling Jon that in one of his efforts to cure him of his timidity Sam’s father once brought two warlocks from Qarth to his castle at Horn Hill.

A Clash of Kings

Three representatives of Qarth - Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Quaithe - accompany Jhogo back to Vaes Tolorro after he is sent by Daenerys Targaryen to discover what lies near the abandoned city.[7] The emissaries escort Daenerys and her khalasar to Qarth. On entering Qarth, Daenerys thinks the magnificence of the city cannot be denied.[1] Her three young dragons are a marvel in the ancient city. [7][1][5]

Queen Daenerys Targaryen returns to Xaro's palace after her audience with the Pureborn - by Mustamirri ©

Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a member of the Thirteen, offers her the hospitality of his palace while she and her khalasar are in Qarth which she accepts. Under his guidance Daenerys seeks an audience with the Pureborn to plea with them in the Hall of a Thousand Thrones for their fleet of galleys, or part of it and some of their soldiers.[5] The Pureborn refuse her, however.

As the rumor of living dragons spreads through the east seekers come to learn if the tale is true. Xaro sees to it that the great and the humble alike offer some token to Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons. The trickle he starts soon swells to a flood.[10]

  • Trader captains bring lace from Myr, chests of saffron from Yi Ti, amber and dragonglass out of Asshai.
  • Merchants offer bags of coin, silversmiths rings and chains.
  • Pipers pipe for her, tumblers tumble, and jugglers juggle, while dyers drape her in colors she did not know exist.
  • A pair of Jogos Nhai present her with one of their striped zorses, black and white and fierce.
  • A widow brings the dried corpse of her husband, covered with a crust of silvered leaves; such remnants are believed to have great power, especially if the deceased had been a sorcerer, as this one had.
  • The Tourmaline Brotherhood press on her a crown wrought in the shape of a three-headed dragon; the coils are yellow gold, the wings silver, the heads carved from jade, ivory, and onyx.

The crown is the only offering Daenerys keeps. The rest she sells, to gather the wealth she ends up wasting on the Pureborn. Xaro would have sold the crown too—the Thirteen would see that she has a much finer one, he swears—but Daenerys forbids it, telling him:

Viserys sold my mother’s crown, and men called him a beggar. I shall keep this one, so men will call me a queen.[10]

After having been refused by the Pureborn Daenerys agrees to go with Pyat Pree to visit the House of the Undying.[1] While inside Drogon destroys the building when Daenerys is attacked by the Undying Ones. After its destruction, ghost grass is found growing in the Garden of Gehane and phantom tortoises are seen carrying messages between the windowless houses on Warlock's Way.[6]

Daenerys is soon forced to flee Qarth after the Tourmaline Brotherhood, the Ancient Guild of Spicers and the Pureborn trade guilds demand her expulsion and possible assassination after the destruction of the House of the Undying.[6] Only Xaro's influence prevents the Thirteen from adding their voices to that of the other trade guilds.

A Storm of Swords

In Meereen Ser Jorah Mormont admits to Daenerys that the last report that he made to Varys was one from Qarth. She is taken aback as she hoped his spying had ended much earlier.[11]

A Dance with Dragons

Xaro Xhoan Daxos arrives in Meereen as a representative of Qarth to visit Queen Daenerys Targaryen in order to try and convince her to sail for Westeros. Her presence has disrupted the slave trade which many Essosi cities, including Qarth, depend on for their economies. He brings forth a gift of thirteen ships, stating that they are hers on the condition she sails from Slaver's Bay to Westeros.

Daenerys has the thirteen ships Xaro brought inspected, but later refuses the offer. Xaro's reply is to leave a bloodstained glove on a satin pillow - indicating Qarth has declared war on her.[2]

The Winds of Winter

As the Second Siege of Meereen is starting Tyrion can hear the sounds of the warships crashing and clashing on Slaver's Bay and can hear the queer high whistles of Qarth being made by the Qartheen fleet. The Qartheen camel corps may be taking part in the battle being fought beneath the city.


How savage we must seem to these Qartheen.[1]

Daenerys Targaryen's thoughts as she and her khalasar enter Qarth

These are strange times in Qarth. And strange times are bad for trade.[6]

Xaro Xhoan Daxos, to Daenerys Targaryen

In Qarth I was a beggar.[12]

Daenerys Targaryen, to Quaithe

Qarth is a city of merchants, and they love the clink of silver coins, the gleam of yellow gold.[13]

Hizdahr zo Loraq, to Daenerys Targaryen

Qartheen have milk in their veins.[13]

Daario Naharis, to Daenerys Targaryen

References and Notes