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Fortress, Regional Capitol
Sunspear by jonathanguzi-d89ziph.jpg
by jonathanguzi
Location Westeros, Dorne
Government House Nymeros Martell
Religion Faith of the Seven
Named for The sigil of House Nymeros Martell[1]
Notable places Old Palace, Sandship, Winding Walls, shadow city
Dorne and the location of Sunspear
Dorne and the location of Sunspear
Dorne and the location of Sunspear

Sunspear, also known as the Old Palace,[2] is the seat of House Nymeros Martell and the capital of Dorne. The castle is located on the Broken Arm, north of the Greenblood on the far southeastern coast of Westeros and is surrounded on three sides by the sea, and by the shadow city on the fourth side.[3][1] The palace of the Water Gardens lies three leagues away on the coastal road.[4]



Sunspear is a walled settlement, protected by three massive Winding Walls, encircling one another and containing miles of narrow alleys, hidden courts, and noisy bazaars. The Threefold Gate, where the gates are lined up one behind the other, avoids the labyrinth, instead allowing straight passage on a brick path to the Old Palace.[4]

One of Sunspear's chief structures is the original stronghold of House Martell, the Sandship,[1] which is a large, ugly, dun-colored building that looks like a dromond.[4] Over time, towers in Rhoynish fashion sprung up around the keep. Two other chief structures are the tall and slender Spear Tower and the great, domed Tower of the Sun.[4][2] The Spear Tower is a hundred and a half feet high, and can house noble prisoners;[4][5] In the Tower of the Sun, the high seats of the Prince of Dorne can be found: two twin seats, one with the Martell spear inlaid in gold upon its back, the other bearing the blazing Rhoynish sun.[4][5] These two towers are the first things visitors see when they arrive at Sunspear, whether by land or by sea.[1]

Shadow city

The closest thing to a true city that the Dornishmen have, the shadow city is no more than a queer, dusty town.[4][1] Built against a wall of Sunspear, the shadow city spreads westwards. Closest to Sunspear's walls, mud-brick shops and windowless hovels can be found. Stables, inns, winesinks and pillow houses are found west of those, with walls of their own. More hovels have been build against those walls, which in has led to the city becoming a labyrinth of narrow alleys, homes, and bazaars.[4][1]

Around ~400 BC, the three Winding Walls were raised,[6] running through the shadow city, forming a defensive curtain. Only the Threefold Gate provides a straight path to the Old Palace, allowing visitors to pass all three of the Winding Walls directly, without having to pass through the labyrinth of the shadow city.[4] If need be, these gates can be heavily defended.[1]


The Sandship was the ancient keep the House Martell, minor Dornish lords. When Rhoynish warrior-queen Nymeria arrived in Dorne with her ten thousand ships around 700 BC, Lord Mors Martell, the Lord of the Sandship, wed her, and this alliance of the Martells with the Rhoynar led to the unification of Dorne in Nymeria's War.

The seat of the ruling Princes and Princesses of Dorne became Sunspear, the new castle which developed around the Sandship. It was named after the union of the Martell spear with the sun of the Rhoynar. It contains beautiful towers built in the Rhoynish fashion, such as the Spear Tower and the Tower of the Sun of the Old Palace. The Winding Walls of the castle were built near 400 BC ago.[1]

During Aegon's Conquest, Queen Rhaenys Targaryen confronted Princess Meria Martell at Sunspear, where the Dornish Princess defied the Targaryen invasion.[7] During the First Dornish War, the Dornishmen abandoned their castles, allowing the Targaryens to take them without fighting. Amongst the castles taken in those early years was Sunspear. Lord Rosby was named Warden of the Sands and Castellan of Sunspear, but he was killed in the Defenestration of Sunspear after the Dornishmen swarmed back into the castle from the shadow city. Later on in the war, during the two years of the Dragon's Wroth, the Targaryens burned the Dornish castles with dragonfire, with the exception of Sunspear. Conjectures by Archmaester Timotty suggests the Targaryens did so to encourage the Martells' bannermen to turn against their overlords, although the Dornish remained loyal.[8]

Rickon Stark, the son of Lord Cregan Stark, was killed in battle outside of Sunspear in one of the final battles of the conquest of Dorne.[9] The Dornishmen surrendered to King Daeron I Targaryen, the Young Dragon, in the Submission of Sunspear in 158 AC, but they rebelled in the following years.[10] Daeron's successor, King Baelor I Targaryen, walked barefoot from King's Landing to Sunspear to forge a peace with Dorne.[11]

Recent Events

A Feast for Crows

Princess Myrcella Baratheon, ward of Prince Doran Martell and betrothed to Prince Trystane Martell, has quarters in the Tower of the Sun.[3]

Following the death of his brother, Prince Oberyn, at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane in King's Landing,[12] Prince Doran Martell orders Areo Hotah to round up the Sand Snakes,[4] with the older sisters confined in the Spear Tower and the younger ones at the Water Gardens.[5][13] Sarella remains outside of Dorne, however.[4]

After plotting to crown Myrcella as queen, Princess Arianne Martell is imprisoned for some time within the Spear Tower.[5]

A Dance with Dragons

Doran releases Arianne and the older Sand Snakes from the Spear Tower. Ser Balon Swann brings the skull of Gregor to the court of Doran in Sunspear.[14]

Chapters that take place at Sunspear

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 The World of Ice and Fire, Dorne: Sunspear.
  2. 2.0 2.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Sunspear.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
  6. The Winding Walls were raised some 700 years prior to 300 AC, as stated in The World of Ice and Fire, Dorne: Sunspear
  7. The World of Ice and Fire, The Reign of the Targaryens: The Conquest.
  8. The World of Ice and Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragons.
  9. The World of Ice and Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
  10. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron I.
  11. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
  12. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
  13. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
  14. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 38, Jaime VI.

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