- "Growing up at Winterfell, all I ever wanted was to escape, to come here, to the capital. To see the southern knights and their painted armor, and King's Landing after dark. All the candles burning in all those windows..."
- ―Sansa Stark
King's Landing is the capital, and largest city, of the Seven Kingdoms. Located on the east coast of Westeros in the Crownlands, just north of where the Blackwater Rush flows into Blackwater Bay and overlooking Blackwater Bay, King's Landing is the site of the Iron Throne and the Red Keep, the seat of the King of the Andals and the First Men (hence the name). It enjoys a warm climate and life there is luxurious for those that can afford it, although it is not without its slums such as Flea Bottom. The city is overpopulated and dangerous at the best of times, despite being policed by the City Watch.
King's Landing was founded by King Aegon I Targaryen, King of the Andals and the First Men. He established a small wooden fort atop the hill, named the Aegonfort in his honor, where his ships first landed from Dragonstone, and used this as a base for his campaign to conquer the continent. Having achieved his goal, he established the new capital on the site of his original fort. The city expanded rapidly under his descendants. By the time of Robert's Rebellion, the city had a population of approximately half a million people.
King's Landing has suffered occasional attacks during its existence, most notably during the civil war known as Robert's Rebellion, when Lord Tywin Lannister betrayed King Aerys II Targaryen and ordered his army to brutally sack the city before turning it over to Robert Baratheon as a sign of fealty.
During the War of the Five Kings, the problems in King's Landing have multiplied. The worst of these are the food shortages exacerbated by an influx of refugees into the city seeking the protection of the city walls from the war, this even led to a riot at one point early into the war during which the High Septon, and Aron Santagar perished, along with many other citizens. Despite its opulence and status as the capital, King's Landing is often referred to in a derisive manner by outsiders, likely due to corruption and poor standards of living such as water filtration. A recurring theme is the stench of human waste; the crowded population and sea breeze means such smells are particularly pungent.
Near the end of her war, Daenerys Targaryen, Drogon, and Daenerys's forces launched an attack on King's Landing. The defending army surrendered, but Daenerys proceeded to raze the city with Drogon, collapsing parts of the Red Keep and indiscriminately killing civilians and soldiers alike.
Following the assassination of Daenerys Targaryen and the election of Bran Stark as the new king, Tyrion Lannister is named Hand of the King once again and leads the effort to rebuild the city with the new small council. The new Hand has also pledged to make building a new water filtration system a top priority.
- 1 Notable locations within the city
- 2 Population
- 3 Notable current residents of the city
- 4 Quotes
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Behind the scenes
- 7 In the books
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Notable locations within the city
The Red Keep is the seat of the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. It is located on the easternmost side of the city, overlooking Blackwater Bay and the Narrow Sea. After Daenerys invaded King's Landing, the Red Keep was heavily damaged and is in the process of rebuilding.
Great Sept of Baelor
The Great Sept of Baelor was the center of the Faith of the Seven, the dominant religion in seven of the nine constituent regions of the realm, and the seat and residence of the High Septon, the topmost official within the Faith.
Located in the western side of the city, this sept was named after King Baelor Targaryen. It was destroyed on the orders of Cersei Lannister, using wildfire following Ser Loras Tyrell's trial, though the explosion also wiped out half the city surrounding the hill for a mile.
Guildhall of the Alchemists
The Guildhall of the Alchemists is the headquarters of the Alchemists' Guild, an ancient order of men known as "pyromancers". It is an underground structure located beneath Rhaenys's Hill. The Guildhall of the Alchemists is presumably in ruin along with the rest of King's Landing, following the Battle of King's Landing.
After escaping the Red Keep, Arya Stark hides in Flea Bottom. Margaery Tyrell visits an orphanage in the slum to give gifts as a goodwill gesture of herself as queen, and of House Tyrell as the saviors of King's Landing (in ending the capital's food shortages and combining the strength of the Reach to win the Battle of the Blackwater). It is also later said that Margaery did this to carry on her charitable work as she had previously done in Highgarden.
Littlefinger's brothel is a high-end establishment whose prostitutes cater to richest classes in the city. It has since been attacked and destroyed by the newly reinstated Faith Militant under leadership from the High Sparrow.
Streets, squares, and gates
- The Kingsroad - the Kingsroad actually runs through the city, entering on the southern side at the Mud Gate, and exiting on the northern side. South of the city the Kingsroad continues on to Storm's End, while to the north it extends to Winterfell and even all the way to Castle Black at the Wall.
- The Goldroad leads from the Westerlands to King's Landing, but does not extend within it.
- The Roseroad leads from the Reach in the southwest to King's Landing - though the road doesn't actually go all the way to the gates of King's Landing itself, but joins with the Kingsroad a short distance away from the city on the southern side of the Blackwater river.
- The Hook - the large road that branches off from the Kingsroad within the city, to run east directly from the Mud Gate to the Red Keep.
- Street of Sisters - a major road in the city, running between the Great Sept of Baelor and the Dragonpit, so-named because the former is located on Visenya's Hill, and the latter on Rhaenys's Hill (Visenya and Rhaenys were sisters). It crosses the Kingsroad as it makes its path through the city. While the Tourney of the Hand takes place outside of King's Landing, a drunken horse race takes place in the Street of Sisters.
- Street of Flour - where most bakers ply their trade.
- Street of Silk - a red light district where brothels are located, several of them high-end ones catering to the nobility and rich merchants. Littlefinger's brothel is located here.
- Street of Steel - where most smiths keep their forges and shops. Tobho Mott's shop, where Gendry was apprenticed, is located there.
- Street of Looms - where tailors and outfitters sow clothes.
- Street of Seeds - another street in the city.
King's Landing is the largest city in Westeros, with a population of 500,000.
- In Season 3's "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", Jaime Lannister states that the population of King's Landing at the time of Robert's Rebellion was "500,000" - which is consistent with the novels (Tyrion tells that to Oberyn Martell in the third novel, though he refers to the present). In the Season 7 finale ("The Dragon and the Wolf"), however, Tyrion tells Jon Snow that there are "a million" people living in the city. This was one of multiple points for which the Season 7 finale contradicted numbers already stated in on-screen dialogue in prior TV seasons (population sizes, army sizes, etc.). While the city's population could have swelled during the two decades that passed since Robert's Rebellion, it couldn't possibly double in population like that, even with the many refugees that flooded into the city during the recent war. As a result, Game of Thrones Wiki will consider Tyrion's contradictory line in the Season 7 finale to be simply a dialogue error.
- In Season 8 episode "The Bells", Tyrion asks Jaime to try to convince Cersei to escape, "if not for her, then for every one of the million people in that city, innocent or otherwise". Still, it does not mean there are about one million residents in the city; Tyrion might have spoken loosely.
- While the Targaryen army marched to take the city, thousands of civilians from the surrounding countryside were allowed to take refuge in the capital. A lot of the people in the city were killed during the Battle of King's Landing, in which Daenerys had the city burned, using Drogon, as well as having her Unsullied and Dothraki Bloodriders brutally sack the city.
Notable current residents of the city
- King Brandon I Stark
- Lord Tyrion Lannister, Hand of the King
- Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Master of Coin
- Ser Davos Seaworth, Master of Ships
- Ser Brienne of Tarth, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
- Ser Podrick Payne, member of the kingsguard
- Samwell Tarly, Grand Maester
- Wisdom Hallyne, head of the Alchemists' Guild
- Mhaegen, Armeca, Daisy, Mirelle, Marei, Genna, and Kayla, prostitutes
- Tobho Mott, a master armorer and blacksmith
- Olyvar, a spy and prostitute in the employ of Lord Petyr Baelish and in charge of his brothel, leading up to his death
- "I left this shit city cause I didn't wanna die it in. Am I gonna die in this shit city?"
- ―Sandor Clegane expresses his distaste for King's Landing
- "Oh! You can smell the shit from five miles away."
- ―Olenna Tyrell as she nears King's Landing.
Behind the scenes
Production Designer Gemma Jackson described the conception of the overall look for King's Landing by saying that, "When I was thinking about King's Landing, the whole red aspect of it, that immediately made me think of Rajasthan", which is the northwest region of India.
The exterior shots of King's Landing in Season 1 were filmed in Malta. In Season 2, new filming locations for King's Landing were found in Croatia, specifically in the seaside castle-town of Dubrovnik.
King's Landing has appeared in all but seven episodes of Game of Thrones so far. The seven exceptions are Season 1's "The Kingsroad", Season 3's "The Rains of Castamere", Season 4's "The Watchers on the Wall", Season 5's "Kill the Boy" and "The Dance of Dragons", and Season 6's "The Door" and "Battle of the Bastards".
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, King's Landing is the largest city in Westeros, with a population of roughly half a million. It is built around three tall hills: Visenya's Hill, Rhaenys's Hill and Aegon's Hill. The Red Keep is the primary fortress and redoubt of the city, located atop Aegon's Hill behind several inner walls.
King's Landing was rapidly constructed within the first century of rule by the Targaryen dynasty. This rapid expansion didn't keep pace with organized "city-planning", resulting in numerous slums forming such as the district known as Flea Bottom. Many of these slum districts are poorly organized, ugly, and filthy because their placement wasn't thought out during the rush to slap down new buildings. In contrast, the second largest city in Westeros, Oldtown in the Reach, is thousands of years old, but grew only in incremental steps which were well planned out beforehand, resulting in it being a much better organized and beautiful city without the squalid slums of King's Landing, while being only slightly smaller than the capital itself.
Aegon I fortified his initial landing point at the northern shore of the mouth of the Blackwater River, a strategically very defensible position protected to the east and south by water, and surrounded by open plains which would expose any attacking army long before it arrived. After the conquest, Aegon ruled for some time at the crude boomtown which sprang up there, known as Aegonfort. However, it remained a ramshackle pile of wood and earth, so after some time he moved his seat back to Dragonstone, until such time as a proper new capital city could be built in the former location of Aegonfort. He had Aegonfort razed, while planning and construction of King's Landing continued. By the time Aegon I died, however, only the foundations of the city and tunnels of the future Red Keep were finished (thus apparently Aegon continued to rule from Dragonstone for the rest of his life, though he always intended to move the royal seat back to the mainland some day). The city was only finished during the reign of Aegon's second son, Maegor the Cruel. The Iron Throne itself, however, was not taken to Dragonstone, because it was too big to move - keeping in mind that the Iron Throne in the books is a massive 30 foot tall construct literally made out of thousands of swords.
In the TV series, King's Landing is presented as having a warm, Mediterranean or even a sub-tropical climate, and outdoor scenes set in King's Landing are filmed in Mediterranean locations such as Malta and Croatia. Author George R.R. Martin has noted this isn't quite the same as in the books, where it has more of a temperate climate, saying: "King's Landing, that's the capital, is not quite so tropical - in the books it's more like medieval Paris or London." According to the production team in Season 1 behind-the-scenes featurettes, the change in climate was made because they wanted to emphasize how much more lush and abundant King's Landing is compared to Winterfell. It's quite possible that the TV city's climate is far less comfortable in winter.
King's Landing is located on the north bank of the mouth of the Blackwater Rush, and its outline is roughly shaped like a diamond, with a point in each cardinal direction (north, south, east, west). This is because the river mouth flows from southwest to northeast. Many maps simply tilt the viewing angle so that the river is drawn flowing straight across the bottom, with the southeast side of the city at the bottom and the northwest side at the top, and the overall city appears to have a simple square shape.
The city was built around three large hills, named for Aegon Targaryen and his sisters, who founded the city. The largest is Aegon's High Hill, located on the eastern corner, on which the Red Keep was built. Visenya's Hill is in the southern corner, and Rhaenys's Hill is in the northern corner (there is no hill in the western corner). King's Landing has seven gates, one in the middle of each of the four walls, and at three of the four corners (the eastern corner at Aegon's High Hill has no gate, because it is located directly on the coast, where the river meets the bay). The names of the gates are the River Gate (commonly known as the "Mud Gate", southeast wall), the King's Gate (south corner), the Lion Gate (southwest wall), the Gates of the Gods (west corner), the Old gate (northwest wall), the Dragon Gate (north corner), and the Iron Gate (northeast wall).
The Kingsroad begins at Storm's End to the south, and after passing over the Blackwater river, it enters the city through the Mud Gate in the southeast wall, eventually exiting the city through the Gate of the Gods in the western corner (though it soon curves north to head to Winterfell and Castle Black). The Goldroad exits through the Lion Gate on the southwestern wall, heading to Casterly Rock. The Roseroad, which leads to Highgarden, doesn't directly connect to King's Landing, but instead merges with the King's Road just a few miles south of the crossing over the Blackwater. The only other major road out of the city is the Rosby Road, which exits from the Iron Gate on the northeast side, leading to the towns of Rosby and later Duskendale, the Crownlands' secondary port. The Tourney of the Hand (seen in Season 1) was held on fair grounds outside of the King's Gate.
The city is dominated by two primary roads, each of them straight, which intersect in the central plaza of the city. One runs north and south to connect Rhaenys's Hill and Visenya's Hill, and is therefore known as the Street of Sisters. The southern end terminates at the Great Sept of Baelor at the top of Visenya's Hill, while the northern end terminates at the now-abandoned Dragonpit, atop Rhaenys's Hill. The other road runs from Aegon's High Hill in the east to the western corner of the city. While the central plaza is square-shaped, the four road entrances are in each of the corners, not in the middle of the sides.
The Kingsroad actually doesn't directly run to the Red Keep. After entering through the Mud Gate in the middle of the southeastern wall, it continues straight north through the city until it meets with the road from Aegon's High Hill, just east of the central plaza, joining it at a 45 degree angle (the portion of the Kingsroad running south of this juncture down to the river is nicknamed the "Muddy Way"). Only the portion of the east-west road located west of this juncture is considered to be part of the Kingsroad, running all the way to the Gate of the Gods at the western corner of the city. No name has yet been provided for the stretch of the same road which extends east from the point where it joins with the Kingsroad up to Aegon's High Hill. Royal family members and courtiers visiting the Great Sept of Baelor (as they frequently do in the TV series) would travel west on the road away from Aegon's High Hill, past the point where it merges with the Kingsroad, then into the central plaza, then turn left to travel south along the Street of Sisters. Also, there is another major square along the Kingsroad halfway between the central plaza and the Gate of the Gods, known as Cobbler's Square (while the western corner is the only one that doesn't have a hill, Cobber's Square is roughly where one would be if there was an equal hill in every corner).
A few other major roads and districts have been mentioned. The River Row runs along the inside of the southeastern wall, near the Blackwater river. A fishmarket actually extends outside of the city walls up to the river bank: being located outside of the walls, it was heavily damaged during Stannis Baratheon's siege of the city. The Mud Gate is located in the middle of this southeastern wall, and as the Kingsroad passes through this gate is crosses River Row, forming a plaza known as Fishmonger's Square. River Row's eastern end does not directly connect to the Red Keep, because Aegon's High Hill is too steep on its southern side. Someone in the Red Keep who wanted to travel to the Mud Gate wouldn't want to have to ride all the way down in a straight line to where it meets the Kingsroad near the central plaza. Therefore a shortcut exists known as "The Hook", beginning halfway up the Muddy Way and curving off east in a semicircle to reach the entrance to the Red Keep on the less steep western side of Aegon's High Hill. The Riot of King's Landing originated on the Hook, when after seeing off Myrcella at the docks, Joffrey and his royal party were traveling back up this street to the Red Keep (though the riot subsequently spread throughout the city).
The Street of Steel begins at the western corner of Fishmonger square, then curves up in a semicircle east-to-west over the outer shoulder of Visenya's Hill, slightly west of the Great Sept of Baelor at the top. It meets with the Kingsroad slightly west of the main plaza. The Street of Steel is a relatively well-to-do neighborhood where blacksmiths produce armor and swords to sell to knights. Tobho Mott's smithy, where Gendry was an apprentice, is located on the Street of Steel. The Guildhall of the Alchemists, meanwhile, is located on the Street of Sisters at the foot of Visenya's Hill, near the central plaza.
One other major road that runs through the city is the Rosby Road itself, which after entering through the Iron Gate (on the northeast side of the city) runs in a straight line southwest until it terminates at the central plaza - forming a 45 degree angle with the Street of Sisters.
The worst of King's Landing's slum districts, Flea Bottom, is located at the eastern base of Rhaenys's Hill, extending east to the Rosby Road. Also known as "the Bottom", it is physically located at the bottom of the valley between Rhaenys's Hill and Aegon's High Hill. The slum does not extend all the way up the eastern side of Rhaenys's Hill, but proceeding downwards from the summit, it begins below the Street of Flour, which is the location of many bakeries. When Arya is hiding in Flea Bottom after her father's arrest, she mentions having to walk down from the Street of Flour to enter Flea Bottom. In the TV series, the Street of Flour is seen in "Baelor" when Arya attempts to sell the meat from a pigeon she caught to a baker in exchange for a pie.
In Season 3's "Mhysa", Gendry asks where Davos lived in Flea Bottom, by asking how far he lived below the Street of Flour. Apparently the alleys lower down the hill were poorer, because all of the human waste poured into the streets flowed downhill. Davos explains that he came from the worst part of the slum, Gin Alley, which is located so far down Rhaenys's Hill that it is in the valley between it and Aegon's High Hill, so that all of the shit from the Red Keep poured out of sewage pipes at the bottom of the hill, then down Tanner's Row and past his front door. In Season 4, Karl Tanner says that he used to be a professional cutthroat and dagger-for-hire in the most dangerous part of Flea Bottom, Gin Alley. While Flea Bottom is very dangerous, no specific mention of a street named "Gin Alley" has been made so far in the books.
The Street of Silk is one of the major red light districts in King's Landing, if not the major one. It is located on the western side of Rhaenys's Hill, opposite Flea Bottom on the eastern side, and relatively close to the Old Gate. Many brothels are located here, some of variable quality, but several which are quite upscale and which cater to the wealthy nobility. In the books, the brothel here that features in the narrative is owned and run by Chataya, a woman from the Summer Islands. Robert's bastard baby girl Barra was born to one of Chataya's prostitutes (named Mhaegen in the TV series). Bronn also celebrated his new knighthood at Chataya's, and Oberyn Martell was also a customer. In the TV series, most of these events were condensed so that the brothel is actually owned by Littlefinger (who does own several other brothels in the books); it therefore stands to reason that in the TV continuity, Littlefinger's brothel is also located on the Street of Silk, on the northwest side of the city.
- According to Jaime ("The Bear and the Maiden Fair"). The number is out of date, though, since it refers to the population during Robert's Rebellion.
- HBO viewers guide, season 2 map, King's Landing entry
- "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"
- "Sons of the Harpy"
- "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"
- "King's Landing (Histories & Lore)"
- Gemma Jackson in The Daily Beast
- Bubonicon 45 GRRM live-read
- GRRM interview with The Denver Post