"Game of Thrones" History: Essos and Its Cities

Essos, that other continent in Game of Thrones you hear about and see once in awhile. It also happens to be the LARGEST one that we know about in that known world. Home to the Free Cities, Dothraki Sea, Slaver's Bay, Qarth, and everything else Daenerys Targaryen has been up to. 

Ever wonder which city is which? Where it is? And what they do there? Down below, we've compiled some of the major locations in Essos and what it's all about. Now, when you're watching Game of Thrones and want to sound really smart, click away and gain some serious GOT knowledge and history facts. 


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    The Free Cities

    - The Free Cities are nine separate, independent, city-states located on the western coast of Eastern Essos. Seven of the nine are coastal cities on the narrow sea (Braavos, Volantis, Myr, and Pentos) with three being on islands (Lorath, Lys, and Tyrosh) and the other two (Norvos and Qohor) are located more inland. With each of the cities so spread apart, the geography of each city is different. The mountains to the east separate the coastal cities from the Dothraki and the plains of the Dothraki sea. The only access is through gaps in the mountain range which allows limited access to the Free Cities. In the north are Ibben and the Shivering Sea and to the south are Slaver's Bay and areas which lead to the Jade Sea deep in the east. 

    - Each of the cities, aside from Braavos, were once colonies of the empire of Valyria and only gained independence after the Doom. 

    - All nine Free cities speak Valyrian, but because their dialects have changed so much throughout each city, it almost sounds like nine completely different languages. 

    - The cities are Mercantile city-states

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    Notable characters from Braavos:
     Jaqen H'ghar, a member of the Faceless men. 
     Syrio Forel, now resident in Kings Landing, a former first sword of Braavos

    - Braavos is one of the Free cities.

    - The city is 800 years old.

    - It is located in a lagoon spanning across hundreds of tiny islands all connected by smaller stone bridges on the northwestern end of Essos at the point where the narrow sea and the Shivering Sea meet. Braavos has also claimed the stretch of land to the south now called the Braavosian Coastland.

    - Braavos is arguable the most rich and most powerful of the free cities. 

    - A giant statue erect at the entrance of Braavos is the Titan of Braavos. It serves as a lighthouse, landmark, and as a defense fortification for the city.

    - The people of Braavos are known as Braavosi. 

    - The ruler of Braavos is known as the Sealord and Braavosi are known as swordsman and seafarers. It is from the sea that their wealth and power flows. 

    - The only city that was not a former colony of the Valyrian Freehold and is sometimes referred to as the Bastard Son of Valyria. 

    - The city was founded by galley slaves after they stagesd a mutiny and killed their Valyrian overseer. Because of the way the city came to be, the city does not keep slaves and dislikes doing business with those who continue to keep slaves. Braavos is known to use its military and economic power to help encourage other city-states to give up slavery.  

    - Due to its origin, Braavos is culturally and ethnically very diverse. There is no one religion in the city nor is there a set "Braavosi look" or set of features. 

    - The city is home to the largest and most powerful banking institution, the Iron Bank, in both Essos and Westeros. It holds debts of many governments which only furthers Braavosi power and influence.  

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    Notable characters from Lys:
    Varys, also known to Westeros as "The Spider," serves on the Small Council as the Master of Whispers.
    Doreah, once a bedslave turned handmaiden by Daenerys.
    Irogenia of Lys, (see below).
    Salladhor Saan, a pirate lord and the commander of a large mercenary fleet. 

    - Lys is one of the Free Cities.

    - Located across a series of islands in the Summer Sea, it is a small city clinging to the rocks surrounded by stormy seas. It lies off of the southern coast. 

    - People of Lys are known as Lysene.

    - Their coins are oval shaped and have the image of a naked woman stamped on it. 

    - The people of Lys curl and perfume their hair. 

    - Lys's navy is one of the most powerful on the Narrow and Summer Seas and their freesails can be found in many ports around the world. 

    - Slaves are legal and many in Lys. 

    - Lys is known to have the best pleasure houses in the world full of trained courtesans and prostitutes. One of it's highest export is in bed-slaves. 

    - Lys are also known for their poisons. A famous poison in particular created in Lys is known as the Tears of Lys and is both rare and difficult to detect. 

    - Lys was a direct colony of the Valyrian Freehold founded from scratch. Because of this, Lysene still have Valyrian feature which includes bright light-colored eyes, skin and hair. Most of Lysene are fair-skinned. 

    - Irogenia of Lys was a famous courtesan whose beauty is said to have been the most attractive and the most skilled courtesan to have ever lived. She's a legendary Lysene.  

    - Lys has been in frequent feuds with the neighboring city, Myr.  

    - One of the greatest temples of R'hllor stands in Lys. The Lord of Light is the main religion along with the love goddess. 
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    Photo: HBO / Amazon / Fair Use

    Notable character from Pentos:
    Illyrio Mopatis, a widely known wealthy Magister of Pentos. 

    - Pentos is one of the free cities. 

    - It is located on the western coastline of Essos and is surrounded by fertile coastal plains also called the Flatlands. The city is a large seaport consisting of squat brick buildings and a few large palaces. 

    - The people of Pentos are known as the Pentoshi.

    - Pentos is a rich city based mostly on commerce and trade of products like cheese. Because of this, the traders of Pentos are sometimes referred to as "cheese-mongers."

    - They use some of this wealth to pay tribute to the Dorthraki to keep the peace and avoid being overthrown. 

    - Pentos is run by a prince chosen by the Magisters. The prince is selected from one of the noble Pentoshi families and remains as such until a war is lost or a crop dies, only then do the Magisters kill the prince and choose again. Which in power, though, the prince controls trade, justice, and war, and must deflower both the Maid of the Field and Sea to keep fortunes up

    - Because of an agreement with Braavos one hundred years ago, slavery is forbiddin in Pentos. it does not, however, stop wealthy families from keeping "servants."