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City state, one of the Free Cities
Free Cities.png
Location Essos, Free Cities, mouth of Rhoyne
Government Triarchy, Freehold
Religion Mixed religions
Founded before 1536 BC[1]
Notable places Black Wall, Long Bridge, Temple of the Lord of Light, Merchant's House
Organizations Tiger and elephant parties, tiger cloaks

Volantis, often called Old Volantis[2][3][4] and the First Daughter,[5][6] is a city in southwestern Essos. Located at the mouth of the Rhoyne on the Summer Sea, it is the oldest and the proudest of the Nine Free Cities.[7] Volantis is one of the greatest, richest, and most powerful of these city-states,[6] and despite depopulation by ancient wars it is still the most populous.[8]



Volantis is the southeastern-most of the Free Cities, located east of the Disputed Lands. Volantis sprawls across one of the four mouths of the Rhoyne, where the river flows into the Summer Sea.[6] To the north is the river Volaena.[9] The cities Volon Therys, Valysar, and Selhorys are located directly northeast of the city,[9] and are ruled by Volantis.[6] Volantis also controls the Rhoyne as far as the tributary river Selhoru, and holds sway over the Orange Shore, west of the city.[6] The ruins of Sar Mell lie northeast as well.[9]

Volantis is the closest Free City to Slaver's Bay, lying approximately five hundred and fifty leagues from Meereen.[7] Between Volantis and Slaver's Bay lies the Demon Road.[10]


The climate of Volantis is hot and humid,[8] the air is hot and heavy.[11] Beyond the waterfront and its breezes the streets and alleys of Volantis are enough to drown a man in his own sweat, as least on the eastern side of the river.[11] Heat shimmers off the streets, giving a dreamlike quality to the surroundings. Quentyn Martell finds that the sullen wet heat of the city saps his strength and leaves him feeling dirty.[11] There is also a smell that hangs in the air, rich, rank and pervasive. There is fish in it, flowers and some elephant dung, also something sweet and something earthy and something dead and rotten. According to Tyrion Lannister the city smells like an old whore.[8] In Volantis the nights are almost as hot as the days.[11]


See also: Images of Volantis
Many of the statues in Volantis lack heads - by Marc Fishman ©

Volantis is a port city. Its large, deep harbor is ideally placed. Volantenes claim that the hundred isles of Braavos could be dropped into the harbor and disappear. Volantis spreads across the mouth of the Rhoyne and across the hills and marshes on both sides of the river.[11] The older districts of the city lie upon the eastern banks, while the newer districts are located on the west. These two halves are connected by the Long Bridge.[6]

The Black Walls of eastern Volantis protect a large labyrinth of palaces, courtyards, towers, temples, cloisters, bridges, and cellars. The Black Walls are a great oval of fused black dragonstone, harder than steel or diamond, built two hundred feet high by the Valyrian Freehold. It protects the oldest part of the city on the eastern shore, often called Old Volantis. It is wide enough for six four-horse chariots to race around its top abreast, as is done each year to celebrate the founding of the city.[6][11] Many inside the Black Walls keep the old gods of Valyria, but R'hllor is favored outside the Black Walls, both by slaves and freedmen.[6] The Temple of the Lord of Light is located in the eastern half of Volantis, and according to Archmaester Gramyon, it is about three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing.[6]

The Long Bridge joins the two halves of Volantis across the mouth of the Rhoyne. It is a great span with a road supported by massive piers that the Valyrians built at the height of their glory. Its gateway is an arch of black stone carved with sphinxes, manticores, dragons, and other beasts. The road is wide enough for two carts to pass abreast. Buildings rise on either side of the roadway. One can buy almost anything in the shops on the Long Bridge. In the center of the bridge are displayed the hands of thieves and the heads of executed criminals.[6][8]

Fishermonger's Square is a bustling square in western Volantis congested with traffic where fishmongers sell their catches.[11] The Merchant's House, located on Fishmonger's Square, is the finest inn in Volantis.[8][11]


Elephant transport in Volantis - by Marc Fishman ©

Volantis despite depopulation by ancient wars is still the most populous of the Free Cities.[8] Doran Martell considers the Volantenes to be “strange and subtle”.[12]

The Volantenes feel that people of quality should not travel afoot, but instead by palanquin or in a hathay. Travelling afoot can taint a person in the eyes of both the native-born Volantenes and the foreign captains in the city.[11] According to semi-canon sources the freeborn citizens tattoo themselves to show prowess in battle and as a record of their exploits. [13]

The Old Blood refers to some of the population in Volantis, noble families who can prove unbroken descent from old Valyria itself. Only those of the Old Blood are allowed to live within the Black Walls of eastern Volantis, and only they can invite slaves, freedmen, or foreigners to enter.[6][11] Freeborn Volantenes with enough property can vote. There are precious few voters on the western side of Volantis, over the river.[8]


There are five slaves for each freedman in Volantis.[6][11] It is custom in Volantis to have the faces of slaves tattooed, to mark their status.[6][11][14] This custom is similarly practised in the cities under the control of Volantis, like Selhorys.[15]

Known slave tattoos of Volantis include:

  • Squares of motley, from neck to scalp: fools and jesters.[6][14]
  • A wheel tattooed upon one cheek: driver of an hathay.[6][11]
  • A mask of blue feathers.[6]
  • A lightning bolt that ran from jaw to brow.[6]
  • A coin upon the cheek.[6]
  • A leopard's spots.[6]
  • A skull.[6]
  • A jug.[6]
  • Flies on the cheeks: slaves collecting elephant and horse dung.[6][8]
  • Flames across the cheeks: members of the Fiery Hand.[16]
  • Flames across the cheeks, chin and forehead: priests of the faith of R'hllor.[8][17][18][19]
  • A horsehead on the cheek: workers in stables.[8]
  • Tiger stripes, green as jade, across the cheeks: slave soldiers.[6][8][15]
  • A single tear beneath the right eye: prostitutes.[6][8][15]
  • A cog's figurehead upon one cheek: slaves bound to a ship.[17]


A triarch being transported by elephant - by Marc Fishman ©

Volantis is ruled by three triarchs, chosen annually through festive and tumultuous elections. While foreigners might see the elections as chaotic, they are usually peaceful. All freeborn who own land, regardless of gender, are allowed to vote.[6][8][11] They are chosen from amongst the noble families who can prove unbroken descent from old Valyria, and will serve until the first day of the new year. The triarchs of Volantis are considered so elevated that they are not allowed to have their feet touch the ground during their year of service.[11] The elections last ten days, with much campaigning and bribery.[6][8]

The triarchs belong to one of two political parties, the elephants and the tigers. The elephants are the party of the merchants and moneylenders advocating trade, while the tigers are old aristocracy and warriors interested in conquest.[10] At no time since the Century of Blood has more than one tiger been named triarch.[5] Some of the first elephants were women, one of whom, Trianna, was returned four times. Volantis has not had a female triarch for three hundred years.[8]

The current triarchs are the tiger Malaquo Maegyr and the elephants Doniphos Paenymion and Nyessos Vhassar.[5][20]

A coin, or honor, of Volantis (front and back), as depicted by Nutchapol Thitinunthakorn in The World of Ice & Fire


While Volantis was, at the time of the Doom of Valyria, the mightiest of the Free Cities,[10] in the centuries that followed Braavos cought up and rivals Volantis for power now.[21]

Volantis is key to the slave market, trading heavily with the cities of Slaver's Bay to the east. It is said there are five slaves to every free man in the city.[7]

Volantis use coins, called "honors", with a crown on one face and death's head on the other as part of their currency.[22] The honors are no bigger than a penny.[23]

Volantenes are fond of sweet beets, which they grow in profusion and serve in most major culinary dishes in the city. They make a cold soup of the beets which is as thick and rich as purple honey.[11] The Volantenes are known for their sweet red wine.[11][24]

Few ships from Westeros come as far as Volantis, and those who do fill their holds with silk and spice from the Jade Sea, then bend their oars for home.[11]

The board game cyvasse originates from Volantis,[16][25][26] and its pieces are sold in the city.[11]



Volantis in supplemental Blu-ray content from Game of Thrones.

Volantis is the oldest of the Free Cities, founded at some point after the destruction of the Old Empire of Ghis.[27] It was the first colony of the Valyrian Freehold, her "first daughter".[8] Established to protect the borders of the Freehold, Volantis was little more than a garrison protected by the Black Walls for a hundred years.[6] Wealthy Valyrians used this military outpost to take advantage of trade along the Rhoyne,[27] however, and settlements quickly grew on both sides of the river. Construction of the Long Bridge to cross the Rhoyne began under Triarch Vhalaso the Munificent.[6]

Rhoynish Wars

Volantis grew powerful trading with Valyria and the Rhoynar, although the nearby Rhoynish city Sarhoy declined. This led to the lengthy Rhoynish Wars.[6]

In the Second Spice War, the last of these wars, Volantis and three Valyrian dragonlords destroyed Sarhoy and sowed the ruins with salt to prevent the Rhoynish city from rising again.[28] Prince Garin of Chroyane declared war and marched at the head of the biggest army Essos had seen. He won victories at Selhorys, Valysar, and Volon Therys, where he faced a hundred thousand enemies, a hundred elephants, and three dragonlords. After Volon Therys, the Volantenes behind the Black Walls asked the Freehold for help. The alliance between Volantis and the Freehold shattered Garin's host, and it is said the blood of the Rhoynar turned the great harbor of Volantis red as far as one could see.[28]

Century of Blood

After the Doom of Valyria, the Volantenes considered themselves the heirs to the Freehold and rightful rulers of the world. They sent a fleet to claim the Valyrian peninsula, but it vanished in the Smoking Sea.[10]

Tommen II Lannister, King of the Rock, stayed at Volantis on his way to Old Valyria during the Century of Blood. According to The Glory of Volantis, Tommen promised half of what he would find to the triarchs of Volantis in return for their generosity and potential aid from their fleet. Triarch Marqelo Tagaros sent ships after Tommen the following year, but no sign of the king was found.[29]

Those in Volantis were divided on how to achieve conquest against the other Free Cities. Those of the Old Blood favored war, whilst the moneylenders and merchants favored trade. These two factions became known as the tigers and the elephants, respectively. The tigers held sway for almost a century, and Volantis called for war upon the other cities, with the tigers leading the city into a great conflict with the other daughters. They were successful at first, taking control of Lys and Myr. When they tried to take Tyrosh, however, Pentos joined the Tyroshi, and Lys and Myr rebelled. The Sealord of Braavos provided ships to aid Lys, and Argilac Durrandon, the Westerosi Storm King, joined the conflict and led a host into the Disputed Lands. It was Argilac's host who defeated a Volantene host which had been attempting to retake Myr.[5][10]

Aegon Targaryen, Lord of Dragonstone, accepted an alliance with Pentos and Tyrosh against Volantis, flew to Lys, and set ablaze a Volantene fleet preparing to invade the city. Volantis was further defeated at Dagger Lake, where galleys from Qohor and Norvos destroyed much of the Volantene fleet which had been on the Rhoyne. Even Dothraki entered the conflict, falling upon the weakened Volantis.[10]

In the end, the Volantene faction favoring peace, the elephants, took power from the tigers, and the fighting was at an end.[10][30]

Recent History

The execution of Triarch Horonno, by Jordi Gonzalez Escamilla, as depicted in The World of Ice & Fire

For the last three centuries, at least two of the three triarchs in power have been elephants.[5][31] Triarch Horonno, who had been returned as triarch for forty years, declared himself as triarch for life. In response, he was seized by rioters soon after, tied between two elephant animals, and torn apart.[6][15]

Volantis fought against the combined power of Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh, in the Battle of the Borderland. The victory of the three smaller cities over Volantis led to the start of the Triarchy, in 96 AC.[32]

Princess Saera Targaryen, a younger daughter of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen and Queen Alysanne, ended her days in Volantis as the proprietor of a famous pleasure house.[33] Basilisk Isles pirates captured highborn maidens from the city sailing to Westeros to attend King Aegon III Targaryen's Maiden's Day Cattle Show.[34] During the reign of King Aerys II Targaryen, Volantis was involved in a trade war against Myr and Tyrosh. Gold and arms were provided to them by the Targaryen kings.[35]

Harwyn Hoare, visited Volantis before becoming King of the Isles and the Rivers.[36] Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne, visited Volantis in his youth, while on his way to Norvos.[12] His younger brother, Prince Oberyn, fathered a bastard daughter, Nymeria Sand, on a Volantene noblewoman of the old blood.[37] King Aerys II Targaryen sent his first cousin, Lord Steffon Baratheon, on an ultimately fruitless mission to seek a bride across the narrow sea for his son, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. One of the places Steffon is known to have visited is Volantis, where he found the jester Patchface, whose freedom he bought so he could bring him to Storm's End.[38][39]

When Daenerys Targaryen was a girl she and her brother, Viserys, spent some time in Volantis when they were wandering from place to place.[40] After leaving behind his wife, Lynesse Hightower, and fleeing Lys, Ser Jorah Mormont ended up in Volantis for the best part of a year, owning nothing but his sword and the clothes upon his back.[8] Hizdahr zo Loraq has also visited Volantis.[3]

Recent Events

Mystique of the East - Illustrated by Martina Pilcerova. © Fantasy Flight Games.
Volantis has launched its fleet against Daenerys Targaryen - by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

A Storm of Swords

After Melisandre and Selyse Florent burn Lord Guncer Sunglass at Dragonstone, his brother and heir, the new Lord Sunglass, flees for Volantis.[41]

The Wise Masters of Yunkai send envoys to the great slaving city of Volantis seeking aid against Daenerys Targaryen, the new Queen of Meereen who has been liberating slaves in Slaver's Bay.[42]

A Dance with Dragons

The Golden Company cancels its contract with Myr and makes its way towards Volantis. Prince Quentyn Martell and his two companions, Ser Gerris Drinkwater and Ser Archibald Yronwood, search for a ship in Volantis to take them to Meereen, but have no luck. They sign on with the Windblown, who are recruiting in the city, in order to get to Slaver's Bay.[11]

In Selhorys, Qavo Nogarys tells Tyrion Lannister that the red priest Benerro preaches that Volantis will surely burn if the triarchs take up arms against Daenerys of Meereen. He states the city thirsts for war.[15]

Ser Jorah Mormont captures Tyrion in Selhorys and takes him to Volantis. On the way to the Merchant's House, they pass the Temple of the Lord of Light. They stop to watch Benerro, who preaches that Daenerys is an ancient hero reborn of the R'hllor faith and encourages many to support her. The next day Jorah takes Tyrion to meet the widow of the waterfront in the inn's common room to arrange passage to Meereen. While there, Penny attacks Tyrion.[8] On the widow's advice Jorah books passage for himself, Tyrion, and Penny on the Selaesori Qhoran, which the red priest Moqorro is taking to Meereen.[17]

While stopping in Volantis, Victarion Greyjoy, Lord Captain of the Iron Fleet, observes galleys heading to Slaver's Bay taking on provisions. The whole city seems drunk. Sailors and soldiers and tinkers are observed dancing in the streets with nobles and fat merchants, and in every inn and winesink cups are raised to the new triarchs. All the talk is of the gold and gems and slaves that will flood into Volantis once the dragon queen Daenerys is dead.[18]

In Meereen Skahaz mo Kandaq informs Ser Barristan Selmy that Volantis has launched its fleet against Daenerys Targaryen, and that Hizdahr zo Loraq means to open Meereen's gates for them.[43]

While at the Isle of Cedars, Victarion thinks that the storms encountered by his Iron Fleet would have scattered the Volantenes as they had his own ships. Many Volantene ships might have sunk or run aground, but there still could be as many as five hundred ships sailing for Slaver's Bay.[18]


A strange and subtle folk, the Volantenes.[12]

I hate this city.[11]

The Volantene apple had rolled a fair distance from the Valyrian tree.[11]

Quentyn Martell's thoughts

The city thirsts for war.[15]

Oh, these are dire days in Old Volantis, even for wrinkled old widows. But not half so dire as in Meereen.[8]

Chapters that take place at Volantis


  1. Lorath was uninhabited for a century before it was founded in 1,436 BC. Lorath's original inhabitants were at war with Norvos, already in existence. As Volantis was the first daughter of Valyria, she already existed before.
  2. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 2, Daenerys I.
  4. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 25, The Windblown.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 6.22 6.23 6.24 6.25 6.26 6.27 6.28 6.29 The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Volantis.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 8.17 8.18 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Lands of Ice and Fire, The Free Cities.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Doom of Valyria.
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 11.16 11.17 11.18 11.19 11.20 11.21 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
  13. A Game of Thrones: d20-based Open Gaming RPG.
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 47, Tyrion X.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
  19. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 63, Victarion I.
  20. A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
  21. The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Braavos.
  22. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
  23. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
  24. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 54, Daenerys VI.
  25. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  26. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 36, Cersei VIII.
  27. 27.0 27.1 The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Arrival of the Andals.
  28. 28.0 28.1 The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Ten Thousand Ships.
  29. The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands.
  30. The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Qohor.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.
  32. The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: The Quarrelsome Daughters: Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh.
  33. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  34. Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
  35. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  36. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
  37. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
  38. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  39. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 5, Arya II.
  40. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
  41. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  42. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71, Daenerys VI.
  43. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 55, The Queensguard.