|Location||Free Cities, Essos|
|Government||Sealord of Braavos|
|Religion||All gods are honored in Braavos|
|Founded||500 years before Aegon's Landing|
|Notable places|| Titan of Braavos, Drowned Town, |
House of Black and White,
Purple Harbor, Ragman's Harbor, Temple of the Moonsingers,
Patternmaker's Maze, Stones of the Silent God
|Organizations||Faceless Men, Iron Bank of Braavos, Moonsingers|
Braavos, known as Braavos of the Hundred Isles, is the greatest and most powerful of the Free Cities, located in a lagoon on the northwestern end of Essos, where the narrow sea and the Shivering Sea meet. There is a stretch of land to the south called the Braavosian Coastland that is claimed by Braavos. The ruler of Braavos is known as the Sealord and it is from the sea that the city’s power and wealth flows. The city is sometimes called the Bastard Son of Valyria.
Unlike the other Free Cities, Braavos was never part of the Valyrian Freehold, but was instead founded 500 years before Aegon's Landing by refugees fleeing Valyrian slavery after rising in rebellion and taking control of a large slaver convoy bound for a newly established colony in Sothoryos. Led by Moonsingers of the Jogos Nhai, they settled a a distant, fogged lagoon in behind a wall of pine-clad hills northwest of Essos.
Because they had risked their lives in the name of freedom, the founders of Braavos vowed that no man, woman, or child in the city should ever be a slave, thrall, or bondsman. This became the First Law of Braavos, engraved in stone on the arch that spans the Long Canal.
For centuries it was called the Secret City and remained relatively unknown to the rest of the world, with ships carrying false charts and practicing deceit when questioned about their home port, for more than a century, until Sealord Uthero Zalyne sent forth his ships to proclaim the existence and location of Braavos, inviting men to celebrate the 111th festival of the city's founding. This event became known as the Uncloaking or the Unmasking of Uthero. With both original slaves and masters dead the dragonlords of Valyria showed little interest in the fate of escaped slaves from a century before. Nevertheless the Iron Bank paid handsome settlements to the grandchildren of owners of the ships seized by the founders, whilst refusing to pay for the value of the slaves themselves.
Braavos sprawls across a hundred islands in a vast lagoon. The nearby mainland is mostly marshland, whilst the seaward sides of the city are protected by tall, mountainous islands which form a semi-circle around the city. Firewood is brought in by barge, while pines on the islands surrounding the city are left to act as windbreaks to protect the harbors, and are illegal to cut down. There is only one channel large and deep enough to accommodate ocean-going ships. This channel is defended by a massive statue called the Titan of Braavos, which serves as landmark, lighthouse and defensive fortification. Just beyond the Titan lies the citadel and the vast shipyard called the Arsenal. The city proper lies beyond, a great sprawl of domes and towers and bridges in hues of grey, gold, and red.
The city is comprised of a hundred islands linked together by small stone bridges spanning the many canals throughout the city. There are no trees to be found within the city (except in the courts and gardens of the mighty), making Braavos a city of stone architecture and granite monuments. The streets are lined with houses made of grey stone, built so close that they lean upon one another. Some houses are built above waterways. They are usually slim buildings with peaked tile roofs, raised four to five stories tall. Above the houses and canals there is an aqueduct, called the sweetwater river, that brings fresh water from the mainland as the water from the lagoon is brackish, briny and unfit for drinking.
Braavos is served by two main harbors. The Purple Harbor, in the north, is used by locals only, while the Ragman's Harbor in the west is where foreign ships are moored. All ships have to submit to inspection by the Sealord's customs officers at the Chequy Port. Scattered throughout the city are small wharves and landings for the fishermen and ferries.
All gods are honored in Braavos. Most of the temples are located on the isle in the center of the city, known as the 'Isle of the Gods'. Among them is the Temple of the Moonsingers who led the original Braavosi refugees to the islands. Another temple of note is the temple to the Father of Waters which is rebuilt whenever he takes a new bride, as well as temples to the Many-Faced God and R'hllor, and a sept for the Seven named the Sept-Beyond-the-Sea. Other sites include the shrine of the Weeping Lady of Lys, the Gardens of Gelenei, the wooden hall of the Lord of Harmony, the house of the Great Shepherd, a three-turreted tower honoring Trios, the Stones of the Silent God, the Patternmaker's Maze, the temple of Aquan the Red Bull, and twin temples honoring Semosh and Selloso. Even gods that have no more followers are honored in a temple called the Holy Refuge or, colloquially, the Warren.
Below the Drowned Town, there are a series of wharves. Among the areas where one can pause in Braavos is the Moon Pool. The bravos often duel at the Moon Pool by night. Healers for hire are found at the House of the Red Hands. The best inns and brothels lie near the Purple Harbor or the Moon Pool. Nearer to the Ragman's Harbor, one can find the Inn of the Green Eel, the Black Bargeman, Moroggo's, the Outcast Inn, the House of Seven Lamps and a brothel called the Cattery. Beneath the second arch of Nabbo's Bridge lies the Foghouse, a small, cramped, dirty establishment with barely enough space to fit ten people. Among other establishments are the Mummer's Ship and the Happy Port. There are eel fights in the Spotted Cellar, which lies near the gates to the Drowned Town.
Statues of former Sealords stand along the main canal. They are mostly carved wearing long bronze robes, and hold various items in their hands, such as books, daggers, or hammers. One holds a golden star and another is upending a stone flagon from which fresh water flows.
A broad waterway known as the Long Canal leads south to the fishmarket. Along the Long Canal sits the Hall of Truth, a building with green copper domes. The tall square towers of the Prestayns and the Antaryons also sit along the canal. After those towers, one must pass beneath the large grey aqueduct of the Sweetwater River that demarcates the beginning of the district known as the Silty Town. In the Salty Town, the buildings are smaller and less grand. The Long Canal is a main thoroughfare that is usually full of barge and serpent boat traffic.
The water from the lagoon is brackish and briny and the canal water is not drinkable without first boiling it. Towards or beyond the heart of the city, above the houses and canals there is an aqueduct -- a grey stone roadway supported by three tiers of arches traveling southwards. It looms above the canals and houses. Called the Sweetwater River, it brings fresh water from the mainland across the mudflats and the briny shallows. Rich men pipe it directly into their homes, while commoners fill buckets at public fountains.
In the Braavosi lagoon there are a plethora of fish and shellfish which constitute the main diet of the Braavosi. Their islands are devoid of trees. Firewood is brought in by barge, while pines on the islands surrounding the city are left to act as windbreaks to protect the harbors, and are illegal to cut down.
- Purple Harbor, which serves only locals, is located on the north side of Braavos, beneath the domes and towers of the Sealord's Palace.
- Ragman's Harbor, which is open to all foreign ships, is located in the west. It is poorer, dirtier, and and noisier than the Purple Harbor. Many people make their living around Ragman's Harbor, including porters, mummers, ropemakers, sailmenders, taverners, brewers, bakers, beggars, and whores.
- Chequy Port is where the Sealord's customs officers board merchant galleys to inspect their holds. The inspection can take as much as half a day.
Isle of the Gods
All gods are honored in Braavos.
- House of Black and White, temple to the Many-Faced God and the headquarters of the Faceless Men.
- Temple of the Moonsingers is the largest and most popular temple, built of white marble capped with a silvered dome and milk glass windows that show all the phases of the moon. A pair of marble maidens flanks its gates.
- The Temple of R'hllor is made of red stone. It has a great square tower with a fire in an iron brazier twenty feet across located atop it. Each door is flanked by a fire.
- A carved stone bridge decorated with half a hundred kinds of fish and crabs and squids
- A bridge carved with lacy leafy vines
- A painted bridge with a thousand painted eyes
- A great canal, of green-hued water, which runs through the heart of the city
- Lesser canals which link to the great canal
- Many smaller ones with tightly packed houses
The location of the city affects its weather. The weather mainly consists of fog, rain and freezing rain. On the occasion, it is clear and sunny.
Braavos has a seafaring trade culture. Braavosi ships paint their hulls purple and their merchant ships sail to many distant lands and bring their trade and wealth back home. One hears of purple sails as far away as Asshai and the islands of the Jade Sea.
The city is also renowned worldwide for its courtesans. Every courtesan has her own barge and servants to work them. The beauty of famed courtesans has inspired many a song. They are showered with gifts from goldsmiths and craftsmen beg for their custom. Nobility and rich merchants pay the courtesans large amounts of money to appear alongside them at events, and bravos are known to kill each other in their names.
Braavosi culture has created a unique form of sword fighting, called Water Dancing. The style is a refined form of fencing in which the practitioner stands sideways and wields a slender blade. Pugnacious bravos fill the city, frequently dueling to display their skill.
Bravos dress in flambouyant colors, contrary to wealthy Braavosi, who "dressed in charcoal grey and purple, blues that were almost black and blacks as dark as a moonless night". Officials of Braavos, such as the keyholders of the Iron Bank and justiciars, wear drab coats of brown and grey.
The anniversary of the Uncloaking is also celebrated every year with ten days of feasting and masked revelry, culminating in the midnight of the tenth day, when the Titan roars and tens of thousands of revelers and celebrants remove their masks at once.
There are several mummers' playhouses in Braavos, such as the Gate, the the Blue Lantern, the Dome and the Ship. Unlike the rest of the Free Cities, or Westeros, mummers can mock and ridicule authorities such as the Sealord openly during their plays without fear of reprisals, even if the Sealord himself is attending the play.
Chapters that take place at Braavos
- A Feast for Crows: 6. Arya I
- A Feast for Crows: 22. Arya II
- A Feast for Crows: 26. Samwell III
- A Feast for Crows: 34. Cat of the Canals
- A Dance with Dragons: 45. The Blind Girl
- A Dance with Dragons: 64. The Ugly Little Girl
|“||Braavos is the odd duck among the Nine Free Cities, but still more Valyrian than Andal in its origins.||”|
|“||We Braavosi are descended from those who fled Valyria and the wroth of its dragonlords. We do not jape of dragons.||”|
References and Notes
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 41, Tyrion IX.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Map of the Free Cities
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The World of Ice and Fire, Braavos.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 41, Jon V.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell III.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 6, Arya I.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 64, The Ugly Little Girl.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
- ↑ The Winds of Winter, Chapter , Mercy.
- ↑ So Spake Martin: Yet More Questions, July 22, 2001
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.