Qarth is an ancient port city on the southern coast of Essos. It got called the Queen of Cities, a self-proclaimed title it shared with Yunkai.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

After Daenerys’s husband died, she and her small Khalasar moved through the Red Waste and found an abandoned settlement called Vaes Tolorro. Dany sent some scouts and one return with three warlocks from Qarth. Though more civilized than the rest of its neighbors who thrive on slavery, it is a crucial link in the buying and selling of commodities between the lands of Westeros and the free cities of Essos. As a city-state, it had its government, heritage, and traditions, which included distinct fashion and religion.

Qarth Details

  • Name: Qarth.
  • Region: Slaver’s Bay, Essos.
  • Government: Oligarchy and Pureborn.
  • Notable Organizations: Thirteen, Ancient Guild of Spicers, Tourmaline Brotherhood, Warlocks, Sorrowful Men.
  • Important Places: House of the Undying, Temple of Memory, Triple Walls, Port of Qarth, Hall of a Thousand Thrones.


Qarth is on the Jade Gates, a narrow strait that connects the Summer Sea and Jade Sea, separating the island of Great Moraq from the rest of the region. Its strategic position makes it a connector between Westeros, the Free Cities, Slavers Bay, and far-eastern cities like Asshai, the Shadowlands, and Yi T. Its connectivity makes people call it the center of the world. It is southeast of the Red Waste and southwest of the Bone mountains. To the west are the prominent cities in Slaver’s Bay; these include Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen.

As a prominent port city, four primary routes begin from Qarth. The first is the northwestern route which leads to Vaes Qosar and Vaes Tolorro. The eastern road leads to Asabhad, a city on the Western boundary of Yi Ti. The western road leads to the town of Qarkash. Finally, the Sand Road leads to the market city of Tiqui, passing through the Bone Mountains and Bayasabhad.


Qarth is an ancient and magnificent city surrounded by three thick walls of successive heights. Its walls have portraits of animals, lovemaking, and war. Due to its magnificence, the famed traveler, Lomas Longstrider, placed the walls in his book Wonders Made by Man. Besides its magnificent walls, it is most famous for its port which is one of the greatest throughout Essos and Westeros.

Inside Qarth are beautiful colorful buildings decorated with many precious jewels. On the walls of houses, decorations with intertwined bronze snakes adorned with jade, lapis lazuli, and obsidian are common. In the city, many slim towers stand tall, and fountains get crafted in the shapes of animals like manticores, dragons, and griffins in every square. In the great arcade, the statues of heroes get erected and are three times taller than the average man.

Qarth also boasts many attractions like the Hall of a Thousand Thrones, where the Pureborn reside; the House of the Undying, where the warlocks govern from; the Temple of Memory, where sacrifices get made; the Warlock’s Way, and the Gardens of Gehane. Another massive attraction in the city is the palace of Xaro Xhoan Daxos. It is so big that most market towns in the city pale in comparison. The latticed palace roof has a massive thousand gaily colored birds.


Qarth is a mercantile city. Due to its strategic position between Westeros, the Free Cities, and the rest of Essos, it is crucial to the trade between continents and the far eastern cities of Essos. It grew in wealth because of its control over the Jade Gates. Because it is a city of merchants, it has three guilds of merchant princes who struggle for dominance. They are the Tourmaline Brotherhood, the Thirteen, and the Ancient Guild of Spicers. 

Qarth sells many things, including spices, silk, elephants, dreamwine, and liqueur. Its ships travel as far as Braavos, and adventurers seek gold, ivory, and precious metals along the easter coasts of the continent Sothoryos. Another crucial element of the Qartheen trade is slaves. Though slavery is necessary for the city’s governance, it does not buy slaves directly from the Dothraki as there is a disdain for the smell of Khalasars.

People and Governance

The Qartheen are tall and pale-skinned people. They get called Milk Men, and they pride themselves on their intellect. Descending from the Qaathi people, the Qartheen are polite and critical of their culture, including their music, art, trade, and magic. They are so polite that their assassins have apologized before making a hit on a target.

Qartheen fashion is unique as people from the city dress in tiger fur, linen, and samite. The women wear Qartheen gowns which leave one breast exposed. Qartheen men, on the other hand, wear beaded silk skirts, and it is customary for one to cry when exposed to strong emotions. After marriage, a woman and a man can have separate possessions. However, it is common for the couple to request one item from their spouse’s possessions as a gift of devotion. Qartheen people also use camels for transportation.

Qarth gets governed by the Pureborn, who constantly contend with the Tourmaline Brotherhood and the Ancient Guild of Spicers for power. There is also a slavery culture within the city, and it is common to come across different kinds of slaves.


The city of Qarth is the only city left of the Qaathi civilization. It was once part of an empire that began in the present-day Dothraki Sea. Before getting destroyed, the Qaathi people got ruled by Kings and Queens, who were the ancestors of the Pureborn. After some time, the lands of some Qaathi cities turned into Red Waste; this led to an evacuation. During the Century of Blood, the Dothraki went on a campaign that destroyed the remaining Qaathi cities. With only Qarth left, the Pureborn built a fleet and took control of the Jade Gates; this led to a boom in the economy.

Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Clash of Kings

After losing her husband, Daenerys reminisces on how Khal Drogo had dreamed of sacking the eastern lands and the great cities of the east. After entering the Red Waste, Daenerys sends her bloodriders to scout for any settlements. Jhogo returns with three representatives from Qarth, Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and Quaithe, a mysterious woman. The representatives convince Daenerys to come to their city. When she arrives, Dany gets welcomed by the Qartheen, who marvel at her dragons. With advice from Xaro, she asks the Pureborn for their ships, but they deny her.

After getting rejected, Pyat convinces Dany to go to the House of the Undying. However, after having hallucinations and almost getting killed, Drogon burns the House of the Undying; this makes the Ancient Guild of Spicers furious. Daenerys flees the city, and on getting to the port, she gets saved by Arstan Whitebeard.

A Storm of Swords

After sacking Astapor, Daenerys heads to Meereen. She then learns that Ser Jorah Mormont, one of her trusted confidants, had been spying on her for the Iron Throne in Westeros. On confronting him, Jorah reveals he had been spying on her until Qarth for Lord Varys. Angry at his actions, Dany sends Jorah away.

A Feast for Crows

In Oldtown, word starts spreading of Daenerys’s dragons as the sailors who visited the city return with the tale. Meanwhile, the warlocks of Qarth swear vengeance on Dany and set sail. However, their galleas get captured by Euron Greyjoy, Balon Greyjoy’s younger brother.

A Dance with Dragons

After taking over Meereen and ending slavery in Slaver’s Bay, Xaro sails from Qarth as an emissary and negotiates with Dany. He gifts her thirteen ships and admonishes her to sail for Westeros to end the embargo on slavery. When Daenerys refuses his terms, he gives her a bloodstain glove on a satin pillow, declaring war against her. With war declared against Meereen, three Qartheen ships closed the crucial trade route for Meereen.

Qarth: The Magnificent City

Unlike its sister cities that relied on slavery, Qarth is a much more intellectual city that thrives on the complexity of trade between Westeros and Essos. The Qartheen people were so intelligent that they built an empire for themselves from a strait that connected Essos to Westeros; this made the city one of the most organized states in A Song of Ice and Fire.


Why did Daenerys almost get killed in Qarth?

When the merchants of Qarth realized Daenerys had three dragons, they coveted them; this caused them to invite her to their city. Later, they got angry when Drogon burned the House of the Undying.

Who is Quaithe?

Quaithe is a shadowbinder from Asshai. She is one of the representatives who accompanies Jhogo to meet Daenerys. When Dany reaches Qarth, she meets Quaithe many times as the shadowbinder repeatedly tells her to pass beneath the shadow.

Who are the rulers of Qarth?

There are many merchant organizations in Qarth struggling to gain control over the city’s governance. However, the current leaders are the Pureborn.

What is Qarth?

Qarth is a city-state located in Slaver’s Bay. It is a merchant state that deals with spices, elephants, and silk. Though slavery is crucial to its governance, it is not a slave-centered city like the rest of its neighbors.

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap