Fortress, Regional Capitol
Sunspear by Ted Nasmith ©
|Government||House Nymeros Martell|
|Religion||Faith of the Seven|
|Named for||The sigil of House Nymeros Martell|
|Notable places||Old Palace, Sandship, Winding Walls, shadow city|
Sunspear, also known as the Old Palace, 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. The palace of the Water Gardens lies three leagues away on the coastal road.
Areo Hotah is the captain of guards for Doran Martell, while Caleotte and Myles are maesters serving House Martell. Ricasso is the castle's seneschal and Ser Manfrey Martell is its castellan. Alyse Ladybright is Sunspear's lord treasurer.
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.
One of Sunspear's chief structures is the original stronghold of House Martell, the Sandship, which is a large, ugly, dun-colored building that looks like a dromond. 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. The Spear Tower is a hundred and a half feet high, and can house noble prisoners; 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. These two towers are the first things visitors see when they arrive at Sunspear, whether by land or by sea.
The closest thing to a true city that the Dornishmen have, the shadow city is no more than a queer, dusty town. 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.
Around 400 BC, the three Winding Walls were raised,[N 1] 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. If need be, these gates can be heavily defended.
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,[N 2] 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 around 400 BC.[N 1]
During Aegon's Conquest, Queen Rhaenys Targaryen confronted Princess Meria Martell at Sunspear, where the Dornish Princess defied the Targaryen invasion. 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.
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. 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. Daeron's successor, King Baelor I Targaryen, walked barefoot from King's Landing to Sunspear to forge a peace with Dorne.
A Feast for Crows
Following the death of his brother, Prince Oberyn, at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane in King's Landing, Prince Doran Martell orders Areo Hotah to round up the Sand Snakes, with the older sisters confined in the Spear Tower and the younger ones at the Water Gardens. Sarella remains outside of Dorne, however.
A Dance with Dragons
Chapters that take place at Sunspear
- A Feast for Crows: 2. The Captain of Guards
- A Feast for Crows: 13. The Soiled Knight
- A Feast for Crows: 40. The Princess in the Tower
- A Dance with Dragons: 38. The Watcher
- The Winding Walls were raised some 700 years prior to 300 AC (The World of Ice and Fire, Dorne: Sunspear)
- The Dornish joined "[...] a thousand years ago [...]" with the Rhoynar (The World of Ice and Fire, Dorne: Queer Customs of the South) following Nymeria's flight after the end of the Rhoynish Wars, which "[...] reached a bloody climax a thousand years ago in the Second Spice War [...]" (The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: Ten Thousand Ships). After the Second Spice War, the city Chroyane was destroyed, and has been known as the Palace of Sorrow ever since ("[...] but for a thousand years this has been the Palace of Sorrow." (A Dance with Dragons, Tyrion V))
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Sunspear.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Sunspear.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
- A Dance with Dragons, Appendix.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Ten Thousand Ships.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Targaryens: The Conquest.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragons.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Lords of Winterfell.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 38, Jaime VI.