Braavos is one of the Free Cities that lies along the western shores of the continent of Essos, across the Narrow Sea from Westeros. It is the northern-most of the Free Cities and the most powerful, with a formidable fleet and immense economic power derived from its banking institutions and its many mercantile interests. The city is famed for its courtesans, its bank, its powerful ships and the massive statue that guards its entrance.
Braavos is located across the Narrow Sea from Westeros, on the north-western coast of Essos. It is located somewhere east of the Vale of Arryn or the Crownlands. Ships that sail up and down the Narrow Sea typically zigzag from Westeros to Essos and back again, with either Duskendale and King's Landing or Pentos as their next port of call after Braavos.
Braavos sprawls across a hundred small islands in a lagoon. It is geographically and culturally very similar to historical Venice. The lagoon is bordered by marshes, the mainland and several large islands which act as windbreaks and defensive ramparts. There is only one gap between two of the islands which is large enough for ocean-going vessels to traverse, and this gap is straddled by the immense Titan of Braavos, a huge statue which also acts as a defensive emplacement capable of raining fire down on any ship passing underneath as well as a lighthouse. Fresh water is carried into the city from the mainland via a triple-tiered aqueduct called the Sweetwater River. Another river, a large, slow and lazy one, empties into the lagoon from the south.
Just within this defensive perimeter lies the Arsenal of Braavos, an island consisting of defenses, armouries and acts as a berth for elements of the Braavosi fleet. There are also shipyards in the Arsenal which can reportedly assemble a galley in a day if required. Beyond the Arsenal lies the city proper.
Braavos itself comprises many dozens of small islands linked by bridges and walkways, divided by canals, channels and waterways of varying size. The Long Canal, which leads straight from the edge of the city to its heart, is the primary waterway and trade artery of the city, which becomes clogged with traffic during the day.
The Isle of the Gods lies near the centre of the city and is where many temples are located, such as the House of Black and White (honouring the Many-Faced God) and the Sept-Beyond-the-Sea (dedicated to the seven gods of Westeros. The largest temple on Braavos belongs to the Moonsingers, who founded the city eight centuries ago.
The Chequy Port is where ships submit to inspection by harbour officials. From there foreign ships are directed to the Ragman's Harbour on the western side of the city, whilst Braavosi vessels are directed to the Purple Harbour on the northern side of the city, near the Sealord's Palace.
Braavos' buildings are mostly constructed from grey stone, though larger and richer buildings also use marble. There is little in the way of wooden construction in the city, as there is no nearby source of wood.
Several hundreds thousand people live in Braavos, although the city's status as a mercantile and trade power means that a large proportion of the population is transitory. The permanant population of the city is currently unknown.
Braavos is defended by a formidable fleet consisting of hundreds of galleys, and is rich enough to hire thousands of sellswords if needed. Braavos' military is so powerful that even the might of the Seven Kingdoms would think twice before challenging it. Braavos' location at the centre of the lagoon renders it immune from land-based assault, whilst overcoming the Titan and Braavos' fleet would be extremely challenging. The only possible way to take the city would be to starve it out by surrounding it by land and sea cutting off the aqueduct bringing fresh water to the city. Such a task would be extremely challenging.
To attack Braavos would also be to earn the enmity of the Faceless Men, a society of assassins who are based in the city. Given the Faceless Men's formidable reputation and ability, not many would make such a decision lightly.
The city of Braavos is ruled by the Sealord, who commands from the Sealord's Palace on the northern edge of the city. The day-to-day bureaucracy of the city is handled by officials such as keyholders and justicars. The greatest warrior in the city at any one time is known as the First Sword of Braavos, and if he dies or leaves the Sealord usually attempts to find a replacement immediately from the warriors and braavos of the city.
Whilst the other eight Free Cities are called the children of Valyria, Braavos is called the bastard child of the Freehold instead. Eight centuries ago the Moonsingers led a motley band of refugees from the other cities northward along the coast of the continent until they found the mist-enshrouded lagoon, and founded the city there, calling it the 'Secret City'. Braavos' existence was kept secret even from the Valyrian dragons for a century and its location remained hidden for three more, until Valyria was destroyed in the Doom.
After the Doom, Braavos' existence and location became known and its mercantile power began to grow to its present levels.
Locations of noteEdit
- The Titan of Braavos
- The Arsenal of Braavos
- The Chequy Port
- The Purple Harbour
- The Ragman's Harbour
- The Inn of the Green Eel, the Black Bargeman, Moroggo's, the Foghouse, the Outcast Inn, the House of Seven Lamps and the Mummer's Ship (inns and taverns near the Ragman's Harbour)
- The Cattery and the Happy Port (brothels near the Ragman's Harbour)
- The Isle of the Gods
- The Long Canal
- The Sealord's Palace
- The Sweetwater River
- The Moon Pool
- The Silty Town
- The Drowned Town
- The Palace of Truth
- The Blue Lantern (an inn)