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Lino Drieghe Harrenhal.jpg
Harrenhal, on the north shore of the Gods Eye, by Lino Drieghe © Fantasy Flight Games
Location Riverlands, Westeros
Government House Hoare (extinct)
House Qoherys (extinct)
House Harroway (extinct)
House Towers (extinct)
House Strong (extinct)
House Lothston (extinct)
House Whent (dispossessed)
House Slynt (dispossessed)
House Baelish, feudal lord
Ruler Lady Shella Whent (AGOT)
Lord Petyr Baelish (ADWD)
Religion Faith of the Seven
Founded 2 BC
Named for King Harren Hoare, its founder
Notable places Kingspyre Tower, Tower of Dread, Tower of Ghosts, Wailing Tower, Widow's Tower, Hall of a Hundred Hearths
The riverlands and the location of Harrenhal
The riverlands and the location of Harrenhal
The riverlands and the location of Harrenhal

Harrenhal, the largest castle in the Seven Kingdoms, is the seat of House Whent in the riverlands, on the north shore of the Gods Eye. Since the burning of Harrenhal by dragonfire in Aegon's Conquest, however, the castle has become a dark and ruinous place.

Harrenhal's holdings are some of the richest in Westeros, claiming vast tracts of green fertile land[1][2] which reach as far as the hills of House Wode near the crownlands.[3] Harrentown is found near the castle.[4]


See also: Images of Harrenhal

According to a semi-canon source, Harrenhal is immensely strong.[5] The castle has five towers of dizzying size, with equally monstrous curtain walls. The walls are incredibly thick and its rooms are built on a scale that would be more comfortable for giants than humans.[6] Ser Jaime Lannister thinks of the castle as Black Harren's folly.[7]

Harrenhal has the largest chamber in Westeros, even larger than the throne room of the Red Keep.[8] The Crown chose Harrenhal as the location of the Great Council of 101 AC because it did not know how many would attend, and wanted space for at least five hundred lords and their entourages; more than a thousand came.[9] The castle covers three times as much ground as Winterfell and its buildings are so much larger that they can scarcely be compared. Its stables can house a thousand horses, its godswood covers twenty acres, and its kitchens are as large as the Great Hall of Winterfell.[6]

However, much of Harrenhal has far gone into decay. House Whent uses only the lower thirds of two of the five towers, letting the rest go to ruin, and many places in the castle have not been entered in decades. Bats infest the tops of some of the towers.[6]

Walls and Towers

Harrenhal, by Marc Simonetti ©

Harrenhal is built on a gigantic scale; its colossal curtain walls are sheer and high as mountain cliffs while atop the battlements the wood-and-iron scorpions seem as small as their namesakes when seen from the ground. Harrenhal's gatehouse is as large as Winterfell's Great Keep, and its stone is discolored and fissured. From outside the gatehouse, only the tops of five immense towers can be seen because the height of the walls obscure the view of them. Harrenhal's walls and towers are made of black stone.[6][3][10]

Of the castle's five towers, the shortest is half again as high as the tallest one in Winterfell, yet none of the towers are proper, being bent, lumped, and cracked from the melting of the stone during the burning of Harrenhal by Balerion, the dragon of King Aegon I Targaryen, three centuries earlier. Their original names were lost with the death of Harren the Black.[6]

The Five Towers:

Known Gates:

  • The main gate has walls so thick that no less than a dozen murder holes are passed before one reaches the yard on the other side.[3]
  • The east gate is smaller than the main gate[14] and is located near the Tower of Ghosts.[13]


Harrenhal in Game of Thrones
  • The Hall of a Hundred Hearths is the castle's great hall. It has only thirty-three or thirty-five hearths, but is said to be able to entertain an army.[6] Its floors are smooth slate and there are steps to two galleries above.[15]
  • The kitchens are located in a round stone building with a domed roof containing nothing but kitchens. The kitchens are as large as Winterfell's Great Hall.[6]
  • The Barracks Hall above the armory is where the men-at-arms take their meals.[6]
  • Adjoining the armory is the smithy, a long building in the shape of a tunnel. It has twenty forges, stone water troughs, and a high roof.[12]
  • Hunter's Hall is another hall of the castle.[3]
  • The mews are said to be haunted by the spirits of dead falcons.[11]
  • The long stables have slate roofs.[14]
  • Flowstone Yard is where men-at-arms exercise and drill and squires clean arms and armor. It has a lumpy surface and is located near the Wailing Tower. There is a covered gallery above the yard with arches looking towards it.[6][14]
  • The bear pit is ten yards across and five yards across, walled in stone, floored with sand, and encircled by six tiers of marble benches.[14] It is located in the middle ward.[11]
  • The bathhouse is a low-ceilinged room filled with great stone tubs large enough to hold six or seven after the fashion of the Free Cities.[15] The bathhouse is made of stone and timber, with only one entrance to the room.[17]


Servants at Harrenhal include the blacksmiths Lucan and Ben Blackthumb. Tuffleberry maintains the brewhouse, and Pia works in the buttery. Goodwives include Amabel and Harra, while Weese and Mebble are servants at the Wailing Tower. Tothmure may be the castle's maester.


House Hoare

The burning of Harrenhal, by Marc Simonetti

The seat of Halleck Hoare, King of the Isles and the Rivers, was a modest tower house at Fairmarket on the Blue Fork.[18] His son, Harren the Black, built Harrenhal along the Gods Eye as a monument to himself, intending it to be the greatest of all castles in Westeros and for it to dwarf any other.[19]

The construction of Harren's dream took forty years. Thousands of captives died in the quarries chained to sledges or laboring on the five huge towers. Men froze by winter and sweltered in summer. Weirwoods that had stood three thousand years were cut down to provide rafters and beams. Harren beggared the riverlands and the Iron Islands alike to ornament his dream.[19]

Upon its completion, Harren boasted that his new fortress was impregnable. However, he did not account for Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons invading Westeros. On the day Harren took up residence, Aegon came ashore at what would become King's Landing. Aegon flew his dragon Balerion, the Black Dread, above the high walls and forbidding towers and then roasted Harren alive in the tallest of the towers, now known as Kingspyre. Harren and all his line perished in the burning of Harrenhal. Due to the extreme heat of dragonflame, the castle took on a charred, melted appearance.[19]

Since Aegon's Conquest, the castle has become a white elephant. It is too big to garrison effectively and too expensive to maintain.[20] Harren allegedly mixed human blood into the mortar for the stonework;[17] some believe that the castle is cursed and haunted due to Harren's hubris and the horrors that have occurred within the castle's walls, with the early deaths of its many rulers as proof.[19] The curse is thought to prevent any lord from holding Harrenhal indefinitely.[21]

House Qoherys

Harrenhal, by Cris Urdiales ©

King Aegon I Targaryen granted Harrenhal to Quenton Qoherys, although Lord Edmyn Tully of Riverrun was named Lord Paramount of the Trident.[2] House Qoherys died out during the reign of King Aenys I Targaryen, however, when Lord Gargon the Guest was slain during Harren the Red's rebellion.[22]

House Harroway

Lord Lucas Harroway succeeded Gargon as Lord of Harrenhal, and House Harroway helped to defeat Prince Aegon Targaryen in the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye. The Harroways of Harrenhal and Lord Harroway's Town were extinguished by King Maegor I Targaryen in 44 AC, however.[23] It began to be said that the castle was cursed.[24]

House Towers

Ser Walton Towers was named the new Lord of Harrenhal after winning a melee announced by Maegor, though he died of his wounds within two weeks of the event. Jordan Towers received Harrenhal, though not all of the lands formerly belonging to House Harroway, as Lord Harroway's Town was granted to Lord Alton Butterwell and the rest of the Harroway holdings to Lord Darnold Darry.[24] House Towers became extinct when Lord Maegor Towers died without heirs in 61 AC.[2][25]

Rhaena Targaryen

Since the sickly and impoverished Lord Maegor only utilized one of Harrenhal's five towers, the Tower of Dread, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen settled his widowed sister, Queen Rhaena Targaryen in Harrenhal. Rhaena, who lived in the Widow's Tower, became friends with poor Maegor, and she took care of his household after their lord's passing. After Rhaena died at Harrenhal in 73 AC, the king had her remains burned and interred in the castle.[25]

House Strong

Caraxes and Vhagar leap into the sky as the Battle Above the Gods Eye begins, from Game of Thrones Season 5 Blu-ray

King Jaehaerys I Targaryen granted Harrenhal to Ser Bywin Strong after Rhaena's death.[25] The Great Council of 101 AC, in which Prince Viserys was chosen as the Old King's successor, was hosted by House Strong of Harrenhal.[9]

Lord Lyonel and his heir Harwin died in a fire at Harrenhal in 120 AC. It was blamed on the curse of Harrenhal, although non-mystical suspects included Prince Daemon Targaryen, Lord Corlys Velaryon, Lyonel's younger son Larys Strong, and even King Viserys I.[9]

Early in the Dance of the Dragons, Ser Simon Strong surrendered the castle to Prince Daemon Targaryen during his assault on Harrenhal. Daemon used it as a base for the blacks to launch attacks in the nearby area. Prince Aemond Targaryen and Ser Criston Cole led an army of greens to retake the great castle, but found it abandoned by the blacks when they arrived. Aemond killed Simon and his kin.[16]

After the Battle by the Lakeshore, Criston led his soldiers south along the Gods Eye. Aemond rode Vhagar and ravaged the riverlands, including burning all wooden structures in Harrenhal. Lady Sabitha Frey, who had occupied Harrenhal in the meantime, was forced to hide in a privy to survive the dragonflame.[16] Daemon and Aemond later fought in the Battle Above the Gods Eye, a duel which killed both princes and their dragons, Caraxes and Vhagar, although Daemon's body was never found.[16] Lord Larys Strong was executed during the Hour of the Wolf in 131 AC, ending House Strong.[26][2]

Alys Rivers

Alys Rivers was the so-called "witch queen" who ruled Harrenhal during the regency of Aegon III, following the Dance of the Dragons. She claimed to Ser Regis Groves and Ser Damon Darry that she was the widow of Prince Aemond Targaryen, and that their young son was trueborn and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Regis did not survive the encounter and Damon fled back to Darry. An ill-fated messenger sent to Darry claimed that he had seen a dragon inside Harrenhal. The regents in King's Landing planned to gather a large army to recover Harrenhal, but their plans were interrupted by the Winter Fever of 133 AC.[27]

House Lothston

King Aegon III Targaryen gave the ruined castle to Ser Lucas Lothston in 151 AC.[2] The Bastard of Harrenhal was defeated by Ser Arlan of Pennytree in a melee in 193 AC.[28]

Manfred Lothston was involved in the First Blackfyre Rebellion in 196 AC,[29] and Lady Danelle Lothston helped to suppress the Second Blackfyre Rebellion with the might of Harrenhal in 212 AC.[30] House Lothston was cast down during the reign of King Maekar I Targaryen (221233 AC), however, as Danelle descended into madness.[2]

House Whent

The tourney at Harrenhal, by M. Luisa Giliberti ©

House Whent, originally knights sworn to Harrenhal, became lords of the castle for their part in defeating the Lothstons.[2]

Lord Walter Whent hosted a great tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AC. The famous tournament resulted in the crowning of Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone, as its champion, and is also noted for the participation of the mysterious Knight of the Laughing Tree.[31] Ser Jaime Lannister was named to the Kingsguard of Aerys II Targaryen during the tourney.[32]

Prior to the outbreak of Robert's Rebellion, Rhaegar abducted Lyanna Stark less than ten leagues from Harrenhal.[32] The Whents have been noted for their own tragedies.[2]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Ser Willis Wode, a landed knight sworn to Lady Shella Whent of Harrenhal, supports Catelyn Stark when she arrests Tyrion Lannister at the crossroads inn.[33]

When war breaks out after the death of King Robert I Baratheon, Shella yields Harrenhal to Lord Tywin Lannister.[34]

Queen Cersei Lannister grants the castle to Janos Slynt, Commander of the City Watch of King's Landing, in return for his service against Lord Eddard Stark. Many nobles at the Red Keep are angered that the lowborn Janos has been named Lord of Harrenhal.[35] Tywin is also shocked when he hears of Janos receiving Harrenhal, and he returns to the castle from the crossroads inn after learning of the Battle of the Camps.[36]

A Clash of Kings

Arya Stark in Harrenhal, by Marc Simonetti © Fantasy Flight Games

Tyrion, acting as Hand in King's Landing as Tywin is still in the field during the War of the Five Kings, revokes Janos's title and sends him to the Wall.[20]

The Mountain's men capture Arya Stark, Gendry, and Hot Pie and bring the youths to Harrenhal.[17] Tywin's garrison include bannermen lead by Ser Amory Lorch and Ser Gregor Clegane, and they are bolstered by the Brave Companions. The men treat the smallfolk of the castle cruelly. Amory's men and the Brave Companions feud, resulting in more deaths. Three dozen prisoners from the battle on the Green Fork are kept prisoner in the Tower of Dread; six Freys are ransomed, but northern prisoners remain. The wounded Lord Medger Cerwyn dies in captivity.[6] Arya has Jaqen H'ghar assassinate Chiswyck and Weese, and some attribute the deaths to the ghost of Harren Hoare.[6][12]

Tywin departs Harrenhal, leaving Amory as castellan.[12] Ser Edmure Tully tasks Lord Roose Bolton and Ser Helman Tallhart with taking Harrenhal for Robb Stark, King in the North, so that Tywin can be blocked by Riverrun, the Red Fork, and Harrenhal.[37]

A new group of northern prisoners, including Robett Glover, are brought to Harrenhal by the Brave Companions. Arya convinces Jaqen to help her free the prisoners and revolt against Amory's Lannisters. At the same time, the Brave Companions butcher the Lannister bannermen and all who are loyal to them, then hand the castle to Lord Bolton. Amory is killed within the bear pit for entertainment after the fall of Harrenhal.[11] Arya serves Roose as his cupbearer.[13]

Following the Battle of the Blackwater, King Joffrey I Baratheon awards Harrenhal to Lord Petyr Baelish for his role in securing an alliance between the Lannisters and Tyrells through the engagement of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell. Petyr is also named Lord Paramount of the Trident, replacing Hoster Tully of Riverrun; Hoster is a supporter of Robb Stark, the King in the North.[38]

Harrenhal remains occupied by Roose Bolton's northmen and Ser Aenys Frey's rivermen. Roose punishes and executes some of the castle's servants for having served House Lannister.[13] Arya practices her water dance in the godswood of Harrenhal.[13] Arya thinks of herself as the ghost in Harrenhal,[11] but she flees with Gendry and Hot Pie from the castle when she learns Roose intends to grant it to Vargo Hoat, the leader of the Brave Companions.[13]

A Storm of Swords

Jaime Lannister fights the bear in Harrenhal, by Tomasz Jedruszek © Fantasy Flight Games

Vargo had changed his allegiance from House Lannister to House Stark in order to receive Harrenhal from Roose Bolton. After Ser Jaime Lannister escapes Riverrun, Vargo, fearing the vengeance of Jaime's father Tywin, desires to wed Lord Rickard Karstark's daughter, Alys, and claim the safer and more distant Karhold.[15] Vargo's Brave Companions capture Jaime near Maidenpool. Fearing that Roose will return Jaime to Ser Edmure Tully at Riverrun or even to Tywin in King's Landing, Vargo has Zollo maim Jaime by cutting off the knight's sword hand.[39] Lord Karstark is eventually executed by Robb Stark for his own treason.[40]

The Bloody Mummers bring Jaime and Brienne of Tarth to Harrenhal,[41] and within the castle's bathhouse Jaime reveals the wildfire plot to Brienne.[15] While departing Harrenhal for Edmure's wedding at the Twins, Lord Bolton sends Steelshanks Walton to escort Jaime to King's Landing. Brienne remains in Vargo's control.[15] After a dream during his journey to the capital, however, Jaime insists on returning to Harrenhal, arriving in time to rescue Brienne from a bear in the castle's bear pit. Jaime brings Brienne with him to safety in King's Landing.[14]

Following Robb's death in the Red Wedding, Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King for Joffrey I Baratheon, intends to be lenient toward any opponent who surrenders, with the exception of Vargo at Harrenhal.[42] Most Brave Companions flee the castle.[43] After the capture of Harrenhal,[44] Gregor departs to King's Landing to participate in the trial by combat of Tyrion Lannister.[45]

Though he has never set foot within Harrenhal's walls, Petyr Baelish remains its lord. The castle's large dominion elevates Petyr's social position enough to marry Lysa Arryn, the widowed-Lady Regent of the Vale of Arryn.[46][47]

A Feast for Crows

It is reported that Harrenhal's former lady, Shella Whent, has died,[21] as has Gregor Clegane.[48] Timeon informs Brienne that Gregor had mutilated and eventually killed Vargo Hoat before the Mountain departed for King's Landing.[49] The Lords Declarant try to convince Petyr Baelish to take possession of Harrenhal, but Littlefinger manipulates them and remains in the Vale.[21]

Sent to bring peace to the riverlands, Jaime Lannister returns to Harrenhal and learns it is leaderless. Gregor had appointed Polliver as its castellan, but Polliver was killed by Sandor Clegane at the inn at the crossroads.[45] Jaime clears out the Mountain's men and replaces the garrison with the pious regiment known as the Holy Hundred. Jaime appoints their leader, Ser Bonifer Hasty, as castellan until the time when Lord Baelish claims his castle.[3] Jaime releases Ser Wylis Manderly from imprisonment and has Ser Ilyn Payne execute one of the Mountain's men for having raped Pia.[3]


Harrenhal is said to be cursed, as many Houses and individuals who have held the castle have eventually come to bad ends.[24][2][36][19][4][50][1][38]

Rulers of Harrenhal

Individuals who have held Harrenhal since 298 AC


And King Harren learned that thick walls and high towers are small use against dragons. For dragons fly.[19]

Old Nan to Catelyn Stark's children

Tyrion: You're a bold man to take Harrenhal for your seat. Such a grim place, and huge ... costly to maintain. And some say cursed as well.
Janos: Should I fear a pile of stone?[20]

That is an ill place. Cursed, they say. Not that I am the sort to swallow such tales, but still, there it is.[50]

Sansa: The castle is yours.
Petyr: Ah, and what a castle it is. Cavernous halls and ruined towers, ghosts and draughts, ruinous to heat, impossible to garrison ... and there’s that small matter of a curse.[21]

Lothstons, Strongs, Harroways... Harrenhal has withered every hand to touch it.[21]

Across the pewter waters of the lake the towers of Black Harren's folly appeared at last, five twisted fingers of black, misshapen stone grasping for the sky.[3]

—thoughts of Jaime Lannister

Harrenhal had witnessed more horror in its three hundred years than Casterly Rock had witnessed in three thousand.[3]

—thoughts of Jaime Lannister

Jaime: This castle has an ill repute, and one that's well deserved. It's said that Harren and his sons still walk the halls by night, afire. Those who look upon them burst into flame.

Bonifer: I fear no shade, ser. It is written in The Seven-Pointed Star that spirits, wights, and revenants cannot harm a pious man, so long as he is armored in his faith.

Jaime: Then armor yourself in faith, by all means, but wear a suit of mail and plate as well. Every man who holds this castle seems to come to a bad end. The Mountain, the Goat, even my father ...[3]

Chapters that take place at Harrenhal

Behind the Scenes

In a 1993 draft of the map of Westeros, Harrenhal was located in the Vale, not the riverlands.[53]


  1. 1.0 1.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 The World of Ice & Fire, The Riverlands: House Tully.
  3. 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 27, Jaime III.
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 14, Arya IV.
  5. So Spake Martin: A Number of Question, May 12, 2001
  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 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
  7. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 27, Daenerys III.
  8. Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 38, Arya VIII.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya X.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 26, Arya VI.
  18. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
  22. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aenys I.
  23. A Forum of Ice and Fire: Inconsistency or Intentional?
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.
  26. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
  28. The Hedge Knight.
  29. The Sworn Sword.
  30. The Mystery Knight.
  31. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
  32. 32.0 32.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
  33. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 28, Bran IV.
  34. 34.0 34.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.
  35. 35.0 35.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
  36. 36.0 36.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
  37. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
  39. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 21, Jaime III.
  40. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 20, Catelyn III.
  41. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime IV.
  42. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  43. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
  44. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 74, Arya XIII.
  46. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  47. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
  48. 48.0 48.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  49. 49.0 49.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  50. 50.0 50.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
  51. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
  52. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 77, Tyrion XI.
  53. Clint Stevenson, Updated pic of the original map of Westeros, turned in to George RR Martin's editor in 1993 along with the first manuscript (Twitter.com), Oct 10, 2022

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