Oldtown by Douglas Wheatley ©
|Location||the Reach, Westeros|
|Government||House Hightower, feudal lord|
|Religion||Faith of the Seven|
|Named for||oldest city in Westeros|
|Notable places||Hightower, Starry Sept, the Citadel|
|Organizations||Maesters, City Watch of Oldtown|
Oldtown is one of the largest and oldest cities in Westeros, built by the First Men before the Andal invasion. Oldtown was constructed around the Hightower, the seat of House Hightower in the center of the city. Oldtown is home to the Citadel and houses the Starry Sept, formerly the seat of the High Septon of the Faith of the Seven. The demonym used for its inhabitants is "Oldtowner".
Oldtown is located at the mouth of the Honeywine in the southwestern side of the Reach. North of the city are the castles Honeyholt and Brightwater Keep. To the east lies Uplands, and to the west Blackcrown and Three Towers. To enter the port of Oldtown from the Sunset Sea, one first needs to enter the Whispering Sound. The Roseroad travels from Oldtown to Highgarden, from where it continued on to King's Landing.
- See also: Images of Oldtown
Oldtown is a labyrinth of wynds, crisscrossing alleys, narrow crookback streets, and markets. These include the Thieves Market and Ragpicker's Wynd. Oldtown is built in stone, with all its streets cobbled, which can make them wet and slippery on a damp day. Most bridges are made of stone as well, although some wooden bridges can be found as well. The city itself is surrounded by massive, thick, high stone walls. Beautiful Oldtown is described as smelling as flowery as a perfumed dowager. During summer, it steams and swelters during daytime but comes alive at night. Foliage include melons, moonbloom, nightshade, peaches, and pomegranates.
Many small isles are located in Oldtown; The Quill and Tankard, an inn, stands on its own island in the Honeywine. The river road winds along beside the Honeywine through the heart of the city. West of the river, the Guildhalls line the river bank. Rat pits and black brothels are located in the undercity.
The Citadel is located upriver on both sides of the Honeywine. Boys and men gather there from all over Westeros to learn, study, and forge a maester's chain. The Citadel is considered to be the greatest seat of knowledge in the known world.
Downriver is the Starry Sept of the Faith of the Seven, which was raised on the command of Lord Triston Hightower. It became the seat of the High Septons for a thousand years, which made Oldtown the unquestioned center of the Faith for all of Westeros. Only following the construction of the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing during the second half of the second century after Aegon's Conquest, did the Starry Sept lose its status. Besides the Sept of Oldtown, at least seven more septs honoring the Seven, built on the command of Lord Damon Hightower, can be found nearby. These include the Sailor's Sept down by the harbor, the Lord's Sept, and the Seven Shrines in their gardens across the Honeywine. Oldtown is also home to a motherhouse. Down by the wharves can be found temples that cater to foreigners, such as Summer Islanders and red priests of the Lord of Light.
The mighty Hightower is a massive stepped lighthouse located on Battle Isle, where the Honeywine widens into Whispering Sound. The Hightower has a great beacon on top, which shows ships the way to port. The Hightower is located on Battle Isle in the center of Oldtown. The Hightower is the tallest tower in the world, higher than even the seven-hundred-foot Wall.
People and Economy
Oldtown is the richest city of Westeros and second in population only to King's Landing. Trade features heavily, as the city is home to the realm's second most important port. Trading ships from all the world, including the rest of Westeros, the nine Free Cities, the Summer Isles, and more, are known to call upon Oldtown's port.
Oldtown is ruled from the Hightower by House Hightower, who were originally Kings of the High Tower but later swore fealty to House Gardener, the Kings of the Reach. They became vassals of the Tyrells after the Conquest, and own the Bank of Oldtown. The city is protected by the City Watch of Oldtown, currently commanded by Ser Moryn Tyrell, an uncle of Lord Mace Tyrell of Highgarden.
The origins of Oldtown are lost to time. The oldest runic records of the First Men, as well as records from maesters that claim to have lived among the children of the forest, confirm men have lived at the mouth of the Honeywine since the Dawn Age. Maester Jellicoe suggested the settlement at Whispering Sound began as a trading post where ships from Valyria, Old Ghis, and the Summer Isles could resupply and trade with so-called "elder races".
In the Age of Heroes, what is now the Ravenry of the Citadel was supposedly the stronghold of a pirate lord who robbed ships as they came down the Honeywine. House Hightower lived within an ancient fortress of black stone on Battle Isle and subsequently built the Hightower above it.
Rival kings, pirates, and reavers coveted Oldtown's wealth as the city grew more powerful, but it was protected by only wooden palisades and ditches. In one century, the city was sacked by Samwell the Starfire, Qhored the Cruel, and Gyles the Woe. Three quarters of the city's inhabitants were reportedly sold into slavery by Gyles, but he failed to conquer the Hightower. Otho II, King of the High Tower, built massive stone walls to protect Oldtown.
Oldtown survived the Andal invasion by welcoming the Andals instead of resisting them. Lord Dorian Hightower married an Andal princess, while his grandson Damon converted to the Faith of the Seven.
At the time of Aegon's Conquest, Oldtown was the greatest city in Westeros. King Aegon I Targaryen's reign is dated from his entrance into the city and his acknowledgment as king by the High Septon, who had advised Lord Manfred Hightower to yield without conflict.
Oldtown contained a chapter of the Warrior's Sons during the Faith Militant uprising. Ser Joffrey Doggett gathered an army of two thousand during his journey to seek the blessing of the High Septon. Lord Martyn Hightower called his banners to resist King Maegor I Targaryen, but Oldtown submitted to the king and his mother, Dowager Queen Visenya Targaryen, after the High Septon suddenly died. Maegor held court in Oldtown for half a year, dismantling the Warrior's Sons chapter and reconciling with his first wife, Queen Ceryse Hightower.
During the Dance of the Dragons, Ser Tyland Lannister sent a third of the royal treasury to Oldtown for safekeeping. Lord Ormund Hightower and Prince Daeron Targaryen marched an army from Oldtown on behalf of the greens. Ormond and Ser Bryndon Hightower, the foremost knight of Oldtown, were slain by Lord Roderick Dustin in the First Battle of Tumbleton. After the collapse of the Rogare Bank, House Hightower—which had, unlike others in Westeros, not entrusted its wealth to it—founded the Bank of Oldtown and became even more wealthy.
During the Great Spring Sickness of 209 AC, Oldtown suffered badly, second only to King's Landing. Ser Duncan the Tall met Maester Aemon when he and Prince Aegon Targaryen visited the city while returning from Dorne via White Lady. The city steamed and sweltered during the summer of King Maekar I Targaryen's reign.
A generation later Oldtown was struck by the dreaded grey plague, a more deadly and fast-acting cousin of greyscale. The outbreak occurred when Grand Maester Pycelle was young, and it wiped out half the city and three-quarters of the Citadel during its run. To prevent its spread, Lord Quenton Hightower ordered the gates barred, all the ships in harbor burned, and anyone trying to leave killed. These orders made him extremely unpopular, but the measures were successful. The day he rescinded the orders, after the plague had burnt itself out, Quenton and his young son were pulled from their horses and had their throats slit by the survivors.
Around fifty years ago, Hother Umber disemboweled a whore in Oldtown, earning himself the nickname Whoresbane. Varys visited Oldtown, King's Landing, and the Free Cities while part of a troupe of mummers.
Prince Oberyn Martell and Princess Elia Martell visited Oldtown on their way to Casterly Rock where their mother was to broker their marriage to the Lannister twins, Cersei and Jaime. Oberyn later studied at the Citadel of Oldtown, where he forged six links. Oberyn fathered Obara Sand on an Oldtown whore.
Orland of Oldtown is a court musician for King Robert I Baratheon. Maester Pylos was sent from Oldtown to aid Maester Cressen at Dragonstone shortly before Stannis Baratheon closed the isle. Allard Seaworth has a relationship with an Oldtown girl.
Lord Baelor Blacktyde spent eight years as a hostage in Oldtown after Greyjoy's Rebellion. Before fleeing in exile from Lord Eddard Stark, Lord Jorah Mormont attended fairs and festivals in Oldtown with his wife, Lynesse Hightower. Archmaester Marwyn is known as Marwyn the Mage all across Oldtown. Lord Randyll Tarly is little loved in the city. Oldtown knows the father of Penny and Groat as Hop-Bean.
A Clash of Kings
The Myraham sails from Oldtown to Seagard. While at Oldtown, the Cinnamon Wind learns that King Robert I Baratheon has died. Satin, a former whore from Oldtown, arrives at Castle Black at the Wall and begins his training.
A Storm of Swords
Garth of Oldtown is killed by Garth of Greenaway during the mutiny at Craster's Keep. Maester Aemon sends ravens from Castle Black to Oldtown and the Citadel warning of Mance Rayder's host of wildlings. Satin, a former whore from Oldtown and a current recruit of the Night's Watch at Castle Black, participates in the defense of the Wall during the attack on Castle Black and the battle beneath the Wall.
A Feast for Crows
Garth Tyrell, the choice of the late Lord Tywin Lannister to become master of coin, travels to Oldtown to take ship for King's Landing. Queen Regent Cersei Lannister instead appoints Lord Gyles Rosby.
Euron Greyjoy, the new King of the Isles and the North, attacks the Reach, conquering the Shield Islands and parts of the Arbor before trying to blockade the mouth of the Honeywine. An ironborn attack on the harbor is repulsed by the city's defenders. Aboard Honor of Oldtown, Ser Gunthor Hightower commands a line of warships and a boom which protects the harbor.
Jon Snow, the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, sends Samwell Tarly south to Oldtown so that he might study there to become a maester for Castle Black. Maester Aemon dies en route, but Sam reaches Oldtown. At the Seneschal's Court he is approached by the acolyte Alleras, who introduces him to Archmaester Marwyn and Leo Tyrell. After Marwyn leaves, the novice Pate gives Sam a cell near Archmaester Walgrave's chamber.
A Dance with Dragons
Jon Snow sends from Castle Black to Oldtown for more maesters.
There are truths in this world that are not taught at Oldtown.
Oldtown was a veritable labyrinth of a city, all wynds and crisscrossing alleys and narrow crookback streets.—thoughts of Pate
Oldtown. Yes. I dreamt of Oldtown, Sam. I was young again and my brother Egg was with me, with that big knight he served. We were drinking in the old inn where they make the fearsomely strong cider.
Chapters that take place at Oldtown
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: Oldtown.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
- The Lands of Ice and Fire, Westeros.
- A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 22, Arya IV.
- So Spake Martin: The Arryns and the Hightower (May 9, 1999)
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Hightower.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
- Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
- The Mystery Knight.
- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: The Gardener Kings.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
- The Sons of the Dragon.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- The Sworn Sword.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion X.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 7, Jon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 5, Davos I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Prologue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 33, Samwell II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 55, Jon VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 11, The Kraken's Daughter.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
- A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell III.