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port city
BtD Oldtown.png
Oldtown by Douglas Wheatley ©
Location the Reach, Westeros
Government House Hightower, feudal lord
Religion Faith of the Seven
Founded Unknown
Named for oldest city in Westeros
Notable places Hightower, Starry Sept, the Citadel
Organizations Maesters, City Watch of Oldtown
The Reach and the location of Oldtown
The Reach and the location of Oldtown
The Reach and the location of Oldtown

Oldtown is a city located on Whispering Sound on the southwestern coast of the Reach.[1] It was constructed around the Hightower, the seat of House Hightower on Battle Isle. The Citadel, home to maesters and their Conclave, is located in Oldtown, and the city also contains the Starry Sept, formerly the seat of the High Septon of the Faith of the Seven.[2]

Built by the First Men before the coming of the Andals, Oldtown is the largest and richest city in the Seven Kingdoms, although the capital, King's Landing, is now more populous.[2] The demonym used for its inhabitants is "Oldtowner".[3][4]



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.[5]


See also: Images of Oldtown

Oldtown is built in stone, with all its streets cobbled,[6] which can make them wet and slippery on a damp day.[4] Most bridges are made of stone, although some wooden bridges can be found as well.[6][4] The city itself is surrounded by massive, thick, high stone walls.[2]

Oldtown is a labyrinth of wynds, crisscrossing alleys, narrow crookback streets, and markets. These include the Thieves Market and Ragpicker's Wynd.[6]

Beautiful[6] Oldtown is described as smelling as flowery as a perfumed dowager.[7] During summer, it steams and swelters during daytime but comes alive at night. Foliage include melons, moonbloom, nightshade, peaches, and pomegranates.[8]

Many small isles are located in Oldtown; the Quill and Tankard, an inn, stands on its own island in the Honeywine, for instance.[6] The river road winds along beside the Honeywine through the heart of the city.[4] West of the river, the Guildhalls line the river bank.[6] Rat pits and black brothels are located in the undercity.[6]

The Citadel, by Folko Streese © Fantasy Flight Games

The Citadel is located upriver on both sides of the Honeywine, connected by stone bridges crowded with halls and houses.[6] 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.[2]

Downriver[6] 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.[6][2] 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.[2] These include the Sailor's Sept down by the harbor, the Lord's Sept, and the Seven Shrines in their gardens across the Honeywine.[6] Oldtown is also home to a motherhouse.[9] Down by the wharves can be found temples that cater to foreigners, such as Summer Islanders and red priests of the Lord of Light.[6]

The mighty Hightower is a massive stepped lighthouse located on Battle Isle, where the Honeywine widens into Whispering Sound.[6] The Hightower has a great beacon on top, which shows ships the way to port.[10] The Hightower is located on Battle Isle[6] in the center of Oldtown.[10] The Hightower is the tallest tower in the world,[11] higher than even the seven-hundred-foot Wall.[12]

People and Economy

Oldtown is the richest city of Westeros and second in population only to King's Landing.[2] Trade features heavily,[13] as the city is home to the realm's second most important port.[14] 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. Traders from the city often visit Qarth.[15]

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,[2] and own the Bank of Oldtown.[16] The city is protected by the City Watch of Oldtown,[17] currently commanded by Ser Moryn Tyrell, an uncle of Lord Mace Tyrell of Highgarden.[18]


Ancient History

Sphinxes at the Citadel, by Juan Carlos Barquet © Fantasy Flight Games

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".[2]

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.[4] House Hightower lived within an ancient fortress of black stone on Battle Isle and subsequently built the Hightower above it.[2]

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.[2]

Oldtown joined the Kingdom of the Reach when King Lymond Hightower and King Garland II Gardener agreed to marry each other's daughters.[19]

Oldtown survived the coming of the Andals by welcoming the newcomers instead of resisting them. Lord Dorian Hightower married an Andal princess, while his grandson Damon converted to the Faith of the Seven.[2]

Oldtown was besieged by a Dornish king in the late reign of Garth X.[20]

Wars of Conquest

At the time of Aegon's Conquest, Oldtown was the greatest city in Westeros.[2] The High Septon advised Lord Manfred Hightower to yield Oldtown without conflict, so the city was open to King Aegon I Targaryen when he marched south after the Field of Fire and the submission of King Torrhen Stark. Two years after Aegon's Landing, Aegon the Conqueror's reign is dated from his coronation by the High Septon in the Starry Sept. Hundreds of lords attended the event in the sept, and thousands of people cheered the new king as he flew through the city on Balerion.[21]

Oldtown's walls repelled an attack by Ser Joffrey Dayne during the First Dornish War, but the Dornishmen burned farmland and villages in the vicinity of the city before returning to the Red Mountains.[22]

King Aegon visited Oldtown many times during his royal progresses,[23] and he visited the Starry Sept during each visit.[24]

Faith Militant Uprising

Oldtown, by Franz Miklis © Fantasy Flight Games

After the death of Aegon the Conqueror, his elder son Aenys I Targaryen traveled by land for his coronation in Oldtown.[24] The High Septon objected to Aenys's polygamous younger brother, Prince Maegor I Targaryen, and to the incestual marriage of Aenys's children, Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaena, however.[24] Maegor later claimed the Iron Throne after Aenys's death.[24]

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 from Lannisport to Oldtown to seek the blessing of the High Septon.[24] Lord Martyn Hightower called his banners to resist King Maegor the Cruel, and thousands fled Oldtown out of fear of the dragons of House Targaryen. Oldtown submitted to Maegor and his mother, Dowager Queen Visenya Targaryen, however, 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.[24]

In 47 AC, Maegor sent Princess Rhaella Targaryen to Oldtown to be trained as a septa, while her twin sister Aera was named Maegor's heir and kept at court. After Rhaena fled King's Landing to join the cause of Prince Jaehaerys I Targaryen in opposition to Maegor the following year, the enraged king cause sent a rider to Oldtown, commanding Lord Hightower to behead Rhaella as punishment for Rhaena's betrayal. Lord Hightower instead imprisoned the messenger and declared for Jaehaerys.[24]

In 48 AC, Septon Moon led thousands of followers of the Faith across the Reach to pressure the "High Lickspittle" against Maegor. While encamped outside of Oldtown, his forces were joined by the armies of Lord Torgen Oakheart and Lord Rickard Rowan.[25][24] Although most of Moon's followers remained camped outside Oldtown after Maegor's death, the horde fell apart after the septon was assassinated. Lorcas the Learned led a group in attacking Oldtown's gates, but all were killed by the city's defenders. After Lords Oakheart and Rowan returned to their seats, Lord Donnel Hightower had his men slaughter Moon's stragglers who refused to depart from Oldtown. The defeat of Septon's Moon followers allowed for Jaehaerys to be crowned in Oldtown.[26]

Jaehaerys I

Lord Edwell Celtigar, Jaehaerys I's master of coin, imposed new taxes on the smallfolk of Oldtown, but the Hightowers refused to collect them.[27]

In 50 AC, Lord Rogar Baratheon sent his brother, Ser Orryn, to the motherhouse of the Starry Sept to demand that the High Septon turn over Rhaella, still a novice, so she could be taken to Storm's End. Rogar planned to force her to confess that she was the actual Princess Aerea, not Rhaella, and Rogar would crown her queen in opposition to Jaehaerys. Casper Straw led thirty armed septons in protecting Rhaella, however, and the Baratheon plot was foiled.[27]

As part of his royal reforms, Jaehaerys replaced the harbormaster of Oldtown.[13] The king's spouse, Queen Alysanne Targaryen brought to court a harpist from Oldtown.[13] After the High Septon died in 54 AC, Jaehaerys and Alysanne flew on their dragons, Vermithor and Silverwing, to ensure that the replacement would be a supporter of their Doctrine of Exceptionalism; Alfyn was eventually chosen.[28]

In 56 AC, Elissa Farman departed Oldtown on Sun Chaser to explore the Sunset Sea with Lady Meredith and Autumn Moon.[29]

Oldtown lost a quarter of its population to the Shivers during the winter of 5960 AC.[30] Jaehaerys visited his daughter, Septa Maegelle, in Oldtown in 89 AC.[30] Corlys Velaryon visited Oldtown in his youth, and Prince Daeron Targaryen squired in the city.[[[15]

Dance of the Dragons

At the start of the Dance of the Dragons, Ser Tyland Lannister, a supporter of King Aegon II Targaryen instead of his rival, Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen, sent a third of the royal treasury to Oldtown for safekeeping.[31] Lord Ormund Hightower and Aegon's younger brother, Prince Daeron, marched an army from Oldtown on behalf of Aegon's greens. Their host participated in the Battle of the Honeywine,[32] and they sent the children of Lady Caswell to captivity in Oldtown after the sack of Bitterbridge.[33] Ormond and Ser Bryndon Hightower, the foremost knight of Oldtown, were slain by Lord Roderick Dustin in the First Battle of Tumbleton,[33] however, and the remnants of their host fell to pieces after Second Tumbleton.[34]

The Hightowers were slow to reply to Aegon II's call for more men from Oldtown after the Battle of the Kingsroad, and the crippled king was soon after poisoned and succeeded by King Aegon III Targaryen, son of the late Rhaenyra.[35] Ormond's heir, Lyonel Hightower, was convinced by his paramour, Lady Samantha Tarly, to make peace.[36] The relationship between Lyonel and Sam outraged the High Septon, as Sam had briefly been married to Lord Ormond before his death in the war.[36]

Regency of Aegon III

Lord Alyn Velaryon stopped at Oldtown during his voyage west to confront Lord Dalton Greyjoy, and Lord Lyonel provided twenty war galleys under the command of Ser Leo Costayne in support of the Oakenfist.[37] Dalton, the Red Kraken, was killed at Faircastle before Alyn arrived in the west, and the Oakenfist spent more time with Lyonel and Lady Sam in Oldtown during his return journey.[37]

Trade expanded in Oldtown during the Rogare Ascendency. 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.[16]


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.[38] The city steamed and sweltered during the summer of King Maekar I Targaryen's reign.[8]

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.[39]

Later History

Around fifty years ago, Hother Umber disemboweled a whore in Oldtown, earning himself the nickname Whoresbane.[40] Varys visited Oldtown, King's Landing, and the Free Cities while part of a troupe of mummers.[41]

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.[42] Oberyn later studied at the Citadel of Oldtown, where he forged six links.[43] Oberyn fathered Obara Sand on an Oldtown whore.[44]

Ser Barristan Selmy defeated Blackshield in a tourney at Oldtown.[45]

Baratheon Era

Orland of Oldtown is a court musician for King Robert I Baratheon.[46] Maester Pylos was sent from Oldtown to aid Maester Cressen at Dragonstone shortly before Stannis Baratheon closed the isle.[47] Allard Seaworth has a relationship with an Oldtown girl.[48]

Lord Baelor Blacktyde spent eight years as a hostage in Oldtown after Greyjoy's Rebellion.[49] Before fleeing in exile from Lord Eddard Stark, Lord Jorah Mormont attended fairs and festivals in Oldtown with his wife, Lynesse Hightower.[50] Archmaester Marwyn is known as Marwyn the Mage all across Oldtown.[51] Lord Randyll Tarly is little loved in the city.[4] Oldtown knows the father of Penny and Groat as Hop-Bean.[52]

Although Oldtown remains the largest and richest city of Westeros, the newer capital city of King's Landing has since grown more populous.[2]

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

The Hightower at Oldtown, by Ted Nasmith ©

The Myraham sails from Oldtown to Seagard.[3] While at Oldtown, the Cinnamon Wind learns that King Robert I Baratheon has died.[53] Satin, a former whore from Oldtown, arrives at Castle Black at the Wall and begins his training.[54]

A Storm of Swords

Carellen Smallwood is sent from Acorn Hall to safety at a motherhouse in Oldtown during the War of the Five Kings.[9]

Garth of Oldtown is killed by Garth of Greenaway during the mutiny at Craster's Keep.[55] 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[56] and the battle beneath the Wall.[56]

A Feast for Crows

Pate, a novice of the Citadel, dies after meeting with an alchemist in the streets of Oldtown.[6]

In response to the death in King's Landing of her father, Oberyn Martell, Obara Sand desires to sack Oldtown.[44]

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.[57]

Hotho Harlaw brings Lord Rodrik Harlaw a copy of Book of Lost Books from Oldtown.[58]

Timeon informs Brienne of Tarth that Urswyck was heading towards Oldtown with a small band of his fellow former Brave Companions.[59]

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.[4]

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.[4]

A Dance with Dragons

Jon Snow sends from Castle Black to Oldtown for more maesters.[60]

Stories of Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons have reached Oldtown.[61]


There are truths in this world that are not taught at Oldtown.[47]

Oldtown was a veritable labyrinth of a city, all wynds and crisscrossing alleys and narrow crookback streets.[62]

—thoughts of Pate

The city was never more beautiful than at break of day.[62]

—thoughts of Pate

Doran: Obara would have me go to war.
Nymeria: Yes, she wants to set the torch to Oldtown. She hates that city as much as our little sister loves it.[44]

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.[63]

Chapters that take place at Oldtown


  1. A Dance with Dragons, Map of the South
  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 2.13 The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: Oldtown.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
  5. The Lands of Ice and Fire, Westeros.
  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 A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  7. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 22, Arya IV.
  10. 10.0 10.1 So Spake Martin: The Arryns and the Hightower, May 9, 1999
  11. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach.
  12. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Hightower.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Fire & Blood, A Time of Testing - The Realm Remade.
  14. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
  17. The Mystery Knight.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  19. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: The Gardener Kings.
  20. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: Andals in the Reach.
  21. Fire & Blood, Aegon's Conquest.
  22. Fire & Blood, Reign of the Dragon - The Wars of King Aegon I.
  23. Fire & Blood, Three Heads Had the Dragon - Governance Under King Aegon I.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 24.6 24.7 Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
  25. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
  26. Fire & Blood, Prince Into King - The Ascension of Jaehaerys I.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
  28. Fire & Blood, Birth, Death, and Betrayal Under King Jaehaerys I.
  29. Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
  31. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Blacks and the Greens.
  32. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Red Dragon and the Gold.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
  34. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
  35. Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - The Short, Sad Reign of Aegon II.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Fire & Blood, Aftermath - The Hour of the Wolf.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Voyage of Alyn Oakenfist.
  38. The Sworn Sword.
  39. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
  40. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
  41. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion X.
  42. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 70, Tyrion X.
  43. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
  45. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  46. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 7, Jon I.
  47. 47.0 47.1 A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  48. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 5, Davos I.
  49. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
  50. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
  51. A Dance with Dragons, Prologue.
  52. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII.
  53. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.
  54. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
  55. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 33, Samwell II.
  56. 56.0 56.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 55, Jon VII.
  57. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
  58. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 11, The Kraken's Daughter.
  59. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  60. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
  61. A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
  62. 62.0 62.1 A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  63. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell III.