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This article is about the castle. For the special feature, see: The Red Keep

"Aegon built his castle of red rock to remind people of the fire he roasted his enemies in, so whenever King's Landing looked up they'd see the price of defiance."
―Joffrey Baratheon[src]

The Red Keep is the residence of the King of the Andals and the First Men, his family and his court, located within King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. It dominates the skyline of the city and serves as the city's primary fortress and redoubt. It also houses the small council, the royal privy council and government.

Located in the southeastern corner of King's Landing, the Red Keep overlooks Blackwater Bay and the Narrow Sea. It is currently the seat of King Bran Stark. Before this, it was briefly held by Queen Daenerys Targaryen, after she took it back from Queen Cersei Lannister following the Battle of King's Landing. It was the former seat of King Tommen Baratheon, King Joffrey Baratheon, King Robert Baratheon, and before him the seat of the Targaryen kings.

The Red Keep took three reigns to build, starting with Aegon the Conqueror and ending with Maegor the Cruel. It started as a primitive fort, then named the "Aegonfort," that Aegon used as his seat during the War of Conquest[1] and would come to house the Iron Throne. Sometime after the Conquest, he ordered that the fort be torn down and began construction on the ambitious Red Keep.[2] When King Maegor finished it, he executed all of its builders to ensure that only the Targaryens knew of the hidden passageways within.[3]

Following the Battle of King's Landing, the Red Keep has sustained severe damage after Drogon set fire to many parts of the castle and its base, and collapsed many of its towers. However, it was also one of the few buildings left somewhat intact. Following Daenerys's death, certain areas of the castle, including Maegor's Holdfast and the White Sword Tower have been refurbished or rebuilt to house the new government. However, several parts of the castle, including the great hall and several towers remain in ruin.

Specific locations

The Great Hall

The Great Hall is the massive throne room of the Red Keep and is where the Iron Throne was situated. The King (or his Hand, in the event of the King's absence), holds court and receives petitioners within the Great Hall. It is also employed for official ceremonies.

Maegor's Holdfast

Maegor's Holdfast is a strut tower in the centre of the Red Keep. It was named after King Maegor Targaryen, who built the Red Keep. It serves as a redoubt when the city is attacked. The royal apartments are also located in Maegor's Holdfast.

Maegor's Holdfast served as a refuge for Queen Cersei and the highborn ladies of the Red Keep during the Battle of the Blackwater.

When Cersei declares herself Queen and the Lannisters engage in a war with Daenerys Targaryen and her allies, Cersei has the floor of a courtyard at the top of the Holdfast painted with a battle map of Westeros, replacing the previous plants and ivories there, essentially becoming a Lannister version of the Chamber of the Painted Table.

The Tower of the Hand

The Tower of the Hand was the location of the quarters and offices of the Hand of the King. The Hand's family, household and guards also live and work in the Tower of the Hand.

When Tywin Lannister assumes his Hand duties for King Joffrey he arranges for the meetings of the small council to be held in the Tower of the Hand to assert his authority. He is later killed by his son, Tyrion Lannister, whilst in the privy by a crossbow.

The White Sword Tower

The White Sword Tower houses the chambers of the Kingsguard.

The Maidenvault

The Maidenvault was built under orders of King Baelor Targaryen to imprison his sisters Daena, Rhaena, and Elaena to prevent them from inciting any carnal thought in the pious king.

The Godswood

The Red Keep's Godswood overlooks the Blackwater Rush. It has no weirwood as the Red Keep is not an ancient castle from the time the Old Gods of the Forest held sway south of the Neck.[4][5]

The Traitor's Walk

The Traitor's Walk is an outer corridor on one of the sides of the Red Keep with a view to one of its outer walls. The heads of criminals and traitors are placed on spikes over the said wall, visible both to the exterior of the Red Keep and whoever passes through the corridor.

Following the arrest and execution of Eddard Stark, his head and those of his entire household were placed on the wall beside the Traitor's Walk.[6]

The dungeons

The dungeons of the Red Keep are divided into four levels:

  • On the upper level are cells with high narrow windows where common criminals are confined together.
  • The second level has smaller, personal cells without windows for highborn captives and valuable hostages.
  • The Black Cells are at the third level. Prisoners accused of treason and other high crimes are kept within the Black Cells, as was the case of Ned Stark. Varys has access to the Black Cells, though he dons the disguise of a gaoler when entering.
  • The fourth level is spoken of only in rumors. Once a man is taken here, he never sees the light of day again and is subjected to the most painful torments.

Secret passages

The Red Keep, according to rumors, is full of miles of secret passages running behind the walls and below the floors. Maegor the Cruel had the builders of the Red Keep executed after the castle was completed to keep the secret of the passageways.

Notable current residents of the Keep


Behind the scenes

Production Designer Gemma Jackson said that the look of the floor in the Red Keep is based on the Pantheon in Rome.[7]

In the books

In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Red Keep is a major castle complex located at the south-eastern corner of the city of King's Landing, directly overlooking the Blackwater Rush and Blackwater Bay. It is built atop Aegon's High Hill, the tallest hill of the city, and affords a panoramic view of the rest of the city. It consists of several interconnected buildings, such as the main keep, a secondary castle called Maegor's Holdfast and the Tower of the Hand, the seat of the Hand of the King. White Sword Tower is the base of operations for the Kingsguard. The Red Keep is so-named due to the Redstone bricks used to build it.

The Red Keep was built approximately three centuries before the events of the series and replaced an earlier wooden fort called "Aegonfort", built by King Aegon I Targaryen where he first set foot on the continent and used as his base of operations in his conquest of Westeros. After Aegon deemed the fort unsuitable for the rule, he took the royal court to Dragonstone and ruled there for many years until his death. The construction of the Keep was an immense undertaking, spanning the reign of the first few Targaryen kings, although modifications and additions to the castle have been made ever since.

See also