Palanthas, also called Palanthas the Ancient and Palanthas the Beautiful, is one of the largest cities in Ansalon. It lies nestled safely in the Bay of Branchala in the northwest corner of the Ansalon mainland, protected from the furious Turbidus Ocean. It is home to more than 32,000 citizens most of whom are humans, the rest a mix of other races such as elves, dwarves, gnomes, and the occasional minotaur and kender. The Cityhome has long been the pride of Solamnia, hailed as one of the major beacons of light in the world and with its white marble buildings and magnificent villas it is a beautiful sight indeed. The city relies heavily on trade with merchants from all over Ansalon. Even minotaur vessels are allowed through the Gates of Paladine.
Palanthas is arranged much like a wheel with roads forming a circular spiral and eight great avenues emerging from the Central Plaza serve as the spokes of this wheel. The third road is followed by an immense wall which divides the city in two – Old City and New City. Old City is the heart of the city. This is where the Lord Regent and the members of the City Senate reside and it is where most governmental buildings lie. On the other side of Old City Wall lies New City, covering the foothills of the Vingaard Mountains. The vast majority of Palanthas’ citizens live in New City.
A Long History
Millennia ago, a small group of settlers, tired of the constant threat of war, set out to find a new, peaceful land for them to settle. These settlers signed on to a ship named Bright Horizon, a ship captained by a man named Agril Stargazer. Captain Stargazer had heard wonderful things about a place called the Dragon Isles, a place where they could live in peace. The Bright Horizon never reached the Dragon Isles. Two days into the sea voyage, she was hit by a massive storm. This storm lasted for days, and cost the lives of nearly half the ship’s crew, before it dissipated. When all was calm, the crew and passengers finally looked around. What they saw was a hospitable beach followed by a grassy plain and surrounded by mountains. A mile or so from the waterline stood a single tower surrounded by a grove of trees.
The new colony would not have lasted long, however, because the only lumber they had was what they could salvage from the Bright Horizon. However, a strange encounter changed that. One year after the settlers had found what is now known as the Bay of Branchala, a pirate ship anchored just off-shore. These pirates, led by the infamous Firebrand, often used the bay as a hideout when the Ergothian navy was too close on their tail. The notorious half-elf pirate captain made a deal with the settlers of the colony. She would bring lumber and provisions and the settlers would build a proper town. In the years that followed the small colony grew into a respectable town that even the wizards living in the tower visited for provisions and it soon became known as a smuggler’s haven. The town was called Bright Horizon.
Bright Horizon’s reputation as a haven for pirates, smugglers, and other folk running from the law made it a feared place for the good people of the world. However, one man saw potential in the city – Vinas Solamnus. The founder of the nation of Solamnia had received a vision which inspired him to found the Knights of Solamnia. In addition, the vision showed him a place where Paladine himself walked in the dawn of time – the spot where Bright Horizon lay. He rallied the peoples of Solamnia and their dwarven and elven allies and together they transformed the town into a mighty city worthy of Paladine’s name.
Palanthas, as the city was renamed, had always been an independent city, not really part of the nation being formed around it. The citizens felt that they belonged more to the sea than any nation and this reflected in the first Lord of Palanthas, Kinnath Homestead, establishing the City Senate and giving merchants and landless nobles seats in the Senate. In an effort to appease the Knights of Solamnia Lord Kinnath also installed a Lord Knight in the city. However, this representative of the Solamnic Knights had no real power. The Lord of Palanthas and (to an extent) the Senate ruled the city.
The Cataclysm shook the continent of Ansalon, destroying the empire of Istar and killing thousands upon thousands. Cities depending on overseas trade were landlocked. Yet Palanthas not only survived the Cataclysm, it prospered, because it was the only deep water port still functioning.