In the eastern corners of Essos, the largest continent of the Game of Thrones universe, was where the greatest empire history was ever seen was founded. Valyria was the first ever kingdom to tame dragons, master the art of magic and reach new pinnacles in science and technology. It was the first Kingdom to be considered a true superpower in every sense of the word. The Valyrian Freehold stretched from the Kingdom of Ib in the North to the Basilisk Isles in the South and from the Step Stones in the west to the Bone Mountains in the east. The Valyrian Capital City was a wonder of magic and science working together in perfect harmony. It is now a ruined patch of wasteland infested by death and disease. While the Targaryens took it upon themselves to re-establish their might in Westeros and left the city of Valyria to fate, there are still secrets that the ruins of the once magnificent capital still hold within. Presenting – 10 incredible facts about the ruined City of Valyria – the Lost Empire of Game of Thrones!!
The largest treasure the world has ever seen is buried deep within its ruins
The Valyrian Freehold was built atop a series of volcanoes. The largest of the Volcanoes were called the Fourteen Flames. Underneath those volcanoes where underground shafts that were either man-made or natural. These shafts were very dangerous to undertake mining operations in but Valyria had a huge army of slaves at their command to be used as expendable workers. These slaves would work in the scorching hot underground shafts that were sometimes too small to even stand, and mine gold and silver for their masters, most of which was shipped back to Valyria. Valyria grew to become one of the richest kingdoms just on the backs of these mines. When the Doom of Valyria happened, most of the gold was left behind since there was not enough time to carry them all out. So, most of the royal treasure is still buried within the Valyrian ruins.
It was originally a land of shepherds
Back when Valyria was still just a group of well-knit villages, the Old Empire of Ghis was the dominant military power in the region. They were extremely aggressive and annexed whatever country they thought could add more value to their Empire. They left Valyria because they thought it was a useless patch of land. They could not be more wrong. Soon after, the Valyrian sheep herders discovered dragon nests near the Fourteen Flames and found a way to tame the fire breathing creatures. The rest is history. By the time the Ghiscari realized the error of their ways, it was already too late. The Valyrians soon defeated the Ghiscari Empire and several other Kingdoms to form the Valyrian Freehold.
Most of the Empire is under the water now
For such a great empire that was the zenith of medieval supremacy in the Game of Thrones Universe, it still could not stand strong against Mother Nature. The Doom of Valyria was an event that was exactly how it sounded like. It was the end of days for the Valyrian Freehold. The volcanic eruptions began with the Fourteen Flames bursting wide open followed by eruptions in several other volcanoes that riddled the Valyrian Freehold. But the chaos did not end there. The eruptions were followed by massive earthquakes that literally broke apart a continent in two. Most of the cities of Valyria sank into the bottom of the Ocean. Fortunately, Valyria survived the ordeal but the catastrophe had hit it too hard for it to regain back its former glory.
It is a glorified wasteland
The volcanic eruptions destroyed the city and turned it into a city of ruins but it also helped in conserving most of its architecture. The mysterious city of Valyria is said to be covered in ash and dust, which is how most of the architecture and structures have managed to survive the test of time. It is ironic to think that the very thing that destroyed Valyria also helped conserve it. But do not for a second think that it is safe for exploration. The City of Valyria is surrounded by the Smoking Sea, a sea that is known to barf out deadly toxic fumes that adore the water surface. The city itself is populated by Stonemen, a group of people that are affected by the Greyscale disease that has turned them into violent zombies. If you so much as touch one, you also get the same disease and turn into a mindless zombie yourself.
The Valyrian Empire’s end gave rise to new Kingdoms and City States
After the Valyrian Freehold lost its power, the enormous patches of land it controlled would then declare themselves independent. The Ghiscari Empire came back into existence but was only a shadow of its former self. The Free Cities were previously prominent Valyrian Cities that declared independence and became autonomous. The end of Valyria was also the reason the cities of Asshai and the Golden Empire of Yi Ti, gained more power and became major players in Essosi politics and culture.
It is now uninhabitable
Like we said, Valyria is surrounded by Smoking Sea, a sea that emanates deadly fumes that can kill a person in seconds if inhaled in fatal doses. The city is said to be infested with the Stone-Men, mindless beats men infected with the Greyscale disease that roam the ruins. The city is also said to be haunted by spirits. Another rumour claims that Valyria is now home to Wyverns, winged beats similar to dragons but smaller and way fiercer. Such factors make it nearly impossible for the city to again bustling with life anytime soon. The only life it will ever see is that of plants and animals, for humans would rather die than set foot back in Valyria.
The Doom of Valyria led to the rise of the Dothraki
The Dothraki are legendary horse riders that roam the great grasslands of Essos and are known to plunder and pillage whatever they feel like. The Dothraki Khalasars would not have come into existence had the Doom of Valyria did not happen. After the Valyrian Freehold was destroyed, the Dothraki initiated war on the surrounding kingdoms in thirst for power and wealth. This period of a hundred years of violence was called the Bleeding Years. The Dothraki hordes would siege and sack several cities, sometimes a single city would be sacked multiple times, just to quench Dothraki greed. It was a period of great hardship and relentless bloodshed.
The Valyrians used religion to control the masses
Probably the first ever Kingdom to realize the power of religion to keep a huge and hungry population divided and complacent, the noble lords and ladies of Valyria worshipped several Gods themselves like Syrax, Meraxes, Balerion, and Vhagar. They despised all other religions and thought them to be primitive and inferior to theirs. And yet they practiced religious tolerance. But their reasons were far more sinister. The reason they allowed the practice of other religions even though they hated them was to control the lower masses, by using the policy of divide and conquer to keep them from uniting against the noble houses.
They were experts of magic and sorcery
Since they had enormous resources and all the time in the world, the Valyrians found new and interesting ways to keep themselves busy. They also discovered magic and practiced a highly dangerous but effective form of dark magic called Blood Magic. They even dived deeper into the volcanic caverns to root out monsters and creatures to experiment on. The dreaded Chimera – was a dreadful experiment after the Valyrian Blood mages forced a goat, a lion, a serpent and a woman to mate together. Many claim that it was because of these inhumane experiments that the Gods struck down Valyria, which never found the strength to rise back again from the ashes as punishment for its crimes.
1. House Targaryen was not the ruling house of Valyria
While they certainly took it upon themselves to lead their people to their former glory when Aegon Targaryen conquered the Seven Kingdoms in the name of Valyria, the Targaryens were not even the ruling house in Valyria when the Doom of Valyria happened. What set the Targaryens apart was that they had a head start. One of their ancestors had predicted the Doom of Valyria and Aenar Targaryen decided to escape the Doom by shifting his fiefdom to Dragonstone. When the Doom of Valyria happened, they also had the last living dragon at their command – Balerion the Black. Two more dragon eggs were found in Dragonstone. Meraxes and Vhagar, now two fully grown Dragons, along with Balerion, helped Aegon Targaryen establish the greatest empire the seven Kingdoms of Westeros had ever seen.