From A Wiki of Ice and Fire - A Song of Ice and Fire & Game of Thrones
Jump to: navigation, search
City state, one of the Free Cities
Free Cities.png
Location Essos, Free Cities, mouth of Rhoyne
Government Triarchy , Freehold.
Religion Mixed religions
Founded Over 1,000 years ago
Notable places Black Wall, Long Bridge, Temple of the Lord of Light, Merchant's House
Organizations Tiger and elephant parties, tiger cloaks

Volantis, sometimes called Old Volantis,[1] 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.[2]


Volantis is the southeastern-most of the Free Cities, located east of the Disputed Lands at the Rhoyne delta. It is said that Volantis sprawls along a bay so vast that it could contain the entirety of Braavos. To the north is the river Volaena. The city is hot and humid.

Volantis is the closest Free City to Slaver's Bay, lying approximately five hundred and fifty leagues from Meereen as the crow flies.[2]

The City

See also: Images of Volantis
  • The Harbor: The city sits on a very deep harbor. 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.[3]
  • The Black Wall: A great oval of fused black stone built two hundred feet high by the Valyrians when Volantis was no more than an outpost of their empire. 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. No outlander, freeman, or foreigner is allowed inside the Black Wall save at the invitation of those who dwell within. Only scions of the Old Blood who can trace their ancestry back to Valyria itself may live within the Black Wall.[3]
  • The Temple of the Lord of Light: An enormity of pillars, steps, buttresses, bridges, domes, and towers flowing into one another as if they had all been chiseled from one colossal rock. A hundred hues of red, yellow, gold, and orange meet and meld in the temple walls, dissolving one into the other like clouds at sunset. Its slender towers twist ever upward, frozen flames dancing as they reach for the sky. It is about three times the size of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. Before the construction of the temple, the site was a Great Plaza. The Temple is protected by a private army known as the Fiery Hand. It is located in the eastern half of Volantis.
  • The Merchant's House: The finest inn in Volantis. It is a four story monstrosity that dominates the docks, wharves, and storehouses surrounding it. It is located on Fishmonger's Square in western Volantis. Its common room, larger than the great halls of half the castles in Westeros, is a dim labyrinth of alcoves and grottoes built around a central courtyard with a trellia of flowering vines and a flagstone floor. Its rooms have very strong locks.
  • Long Bridge: This 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 strange beasts. The road is just 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 the hands of thieves and the heads of executed criminals are displayed.


Elephant transport in Volantis - by Marc Fishman ©

Volantis is ruled over by three triarchs, each of whom rules for a year. Each year the freeborn landholders of Volantis can elect a new triarch or reelect a current one. There are precious few voters west of the river Rhoyne. The elections are ten days of madness, with much campaigning and bribery.

Only those of Old Blood who can trace their ancestry back to Valyria can be a triarch. The triarchs belong to either the elephant or tiger political parties. The elephants are the party of the merchants and moneylenders, while the tigers are old aristocracy and warriors. The elephants advocate trade and the tigers advocate conquest.

Current Triarchs

Past Triarchs


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

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.[2]

Volantis use coins, called "honors", with a crown on one face and death's head on the other as part of their currency.[4] The honors are no bigger then a penny.

Volantenes are known for the red wine they make.[5] 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. [3]


Tattooing is very common among the populace. Slave owners tattoo their slaves to prevent theft and to show the slave's purpose. Tears are tattooed on the cheeks of pleasure slaves; flames on the cheeks of slaves of R'hllor; tiger stripes on the cheeks of the city guard; flies on the slaves who clean up dung; wheels on the drivers of hathays, a single tear beneath the right eye on prostitutes.[6] According to semi-canon sources the freeborn citizens tattoo themselves to show prowess in battle and as a record of their exploits.[7] The city is defended by slave guards known as the tiger cloaks.

Volantenes are fond of sweet beets, which they grown is profusion and serve in most major culinary dishes in the city.[3] They make a cold soup of the beets which is as thick and rich as purple honey. In addition, the board game cyvasse originated in Volantis and its pieces are sold from the city.


Many of the statues in Volantis lack heads - by Marc Fishman ©

Volantis is the oldest of the Free Cities. It was the first colony of the Valyrian Freehold - her “first daughter” [8]- and still maintains many of its traditions. After the Bleeding Years following the Doom, they considered themselves the heirs to the Freehold and rightful rulers of the world. They were divided on how to do this; the tiger party favored the sword and the elephant party favored trade. For a century the tigers held sway and their fleet took Lys while their army captured Myr.

The tigers tried to convince Aegon the Conqueror to aid them in reconquering the Freehold lands. Failing to do that, they tried to capture Tyrosh themselves. However, Pentos and the Storm King came into the war on the side of Tyrosh. Braavos lent a hundred warships to a Lyseni exile, Lys and Myr rose in rebellion, and Aegon came upon his dragon, Balerion the Black Dread, against them.

The war left the Disputed Lands a waste and freed Lys and Myr. At the same time, a Volantene fleet sent to recapture Valyria was lost in the Smoking Sea. Qohor and Norvos broke their power on the Rhoyne. The Dothraki came out of the east spreading destruction. At this time, the elephant party rose up and took control of the government and have been in control ever since. For the last three centuries, at least two of the three triarchs in power have been elephants.[9]

Prince Doran Martell met his future wife, Mellario of Norvos, here for the first time.[10] King Aerys II 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, who had no sisters to wed. One of the places Steffon is known to have visited is Volantis.[11] When Daenerys Targaryen was a girl she and her brother, Viserys, spent some time in Volantis when they were wandering from place to place.[12] After leaving his wife behind 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]

Recent Events

A Dance with Dragons

© Fantasy Flight Games
Volantis has launched its fleet against Daenerys Targaryen - by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

The Golden Company cancels its contract with Myr and makes its way towards Volantis. Quentyn Martell and his two remaining companions search for a ship in Volantis to take them to Meereen without any luck. They sign on with the Windblown, who are recruiting in the city, in order to get to Slaver's Bay.[3]

Qavo Nogarys tells Tyrion Lannister that Benerro preaches that Volantis will surely burn if the triarchs take up arms against the silver queen. He says the city thirsts for war. [13]

Ser Jorah Mormont captures Tyrion in Selhorys, makes him his prisoner and takes him to Volantis. On the way to the Merchant's House they pass the Red Temple. They stop to watch Benerro, who preaches that Daenerys Targaryen is an ancient hero reborn of the R'hllor faith and encourages many to support her.[8]

The next day Jorah takes Tyrion to meet the widow of the waterfront in the Merchant's House 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 get to Meereen. The Selaesori Qhoran sets sail.[14]

While stopping in Volantis, Victarion Greyjoy observed galleys heading to Slaver's Bay taking on provisions. The whole city seemed drunk. Sailors and soldiers and tinkers had been observed dancing in the streets with nobles and fat merchants, and in every inn and winesink cups were being raised to the new triarchs. All the talk had been of the gold and gems and slaves that would flood into Volantis once the dragon queen was dead.[15]

Victarion thinks to himself that the storms the Iron Fleet encountered will have scattered the Volantenes even as they had his own ships and if fortune smiled, many of their warships might have sunk or run aground. However, the green galleys that survived could well have sailed around Valyria. These great dromonds of war teeming with slave soldiers would be sweeping north toward Meereen and Yunkai. Victarion reckons if the Storm God has spared them, by now they could be in the Gulf of Grief with 300 ships, perhaps as many as 500.[15]

In Meereen the Shavepate gives Ser Barristan Selmy the dread news that Volantis has launched its fleet against Daenerys Targaryen, and that Hizdahr zo Loraq means to open Meereen's gates for them. [16]


I hate this city.[3]
Gerris Drinkwater

The city thirsts for war.[13]
Qavo Nogarys, to Tyrion Lannister

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

Chapters that take place at Volantis

References and Notes

Navigation menu