by Ben McSweeney
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”Urithiru was said to be the center of the Silver Kingdoms, a city that held ten thrones, one for each king. It was the most majestic, most amazing, most important city in all the world.
- 1 Location
- 2 Appearance
- 3 Mechanisms
- 4 History
- 5 Culture
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Notes
Urithiru is located almost exactly in the middle of the Rosharan continent, in the mountains that comprise the border of Emul and Greater Hexi. The tower sits on the east side of one of those mountains, leaning against two slopes.
The plateau on which the tower is located is at a considerable altitude. The air is thin enough to make physical activity difficult.  The cliffs beneath it extend further than the eye can see. This location is high enough that both highstorms and the Everstorm pass beneath it, which makes it difficult for the tower's current occupants to obtain stormlight.
Historically, there was some disagreement as to whether or not Urithiru is accessible by means other than Oathgate travel or flight. Ancient chroniclers Varala and Sinbian both stated that it was impossible, but in Nohadon's eighth parable from The Way of Kings, he claims that he walked from Abamabar to Urithiru (which he confirms in Dalinar's dream, saying that he did not use an Oathgate, only a guide, which was akin to "taking a ferry across a river."). As is later revealed, there is an entrance at the bottom of the mountain which can be used to exit the tower on foot. 
There is an unnamed village in the foothills of the mountain to the south of the tower,  but it is apparently not visible from the tower, as all Dalinar can see is clouds and rocks. In addition, Urithiru sits relatively closely to the Valley of the Nightwatcher.
Urithiru is as wide as a city and as tall as a small mountain. It consists of 10 semi-circular levels, with each level being 18 stories tall, for a total of 180 floors.  Going down, each level is wider than the one above it, with the roofs of the wider levels having fields and gardens built on them. There are numerous balconies on the sides of the tower. The bottom level has wide sections jutting out at the perimeter, each the size of a plateau. These areas have grooves, which in the past were furrows for growing crops, and planter boxes around the edges. In front of the tower is a massive plaza surrounded by the ten Oathgate platforms.
The lower levels "meld" into the mountain on either side, but the center and the upper levels have a flat side on the stormward side. Rooms in this flat side have windows facing the Origin.  The glass windows miraculously survived thousands of years of abandonment utterly intact.
The center column of Urithiru is one solid window, also facing the Origin. This column has a footprint the size of a ballroom and is full of dozens of lifts, which look like the exterior balconies and crawl up and down vertical channels in the walls using Stormlight.
Because the tower is high enough to be above the highstorms, long chains with cages exist to lower gemstones down to renew Stormlight.
The interior of Urithiru is filled with tunnels that twist about in strange curves, which Dalinar hypothesizes was done to fool invaders. Navani's scholars have also found oddly shaped groups of rooms and murals of fanciful animals (including some that might be lions, though those do not exist on Roshar), along with gold and copper metals embedded in the walls, presumably fabrials that they have been unable to understand.
The tower is comprised of multiple rooms of different functionality, including sleeping quarters, meeting halls, libraries and bathhouses. Most of them have high ceilings.
Each tunnel in Urithiru has distinctive patterns of strata. Known strata colors include shades of brown, yellow, red, orange, and emerald green, though it would appear that only Surgebinders are capable of perceiving the various colours. The stone itself is smooth to the touch and hard enough that it can't be scratched with a knife. Notably, the same strata patterns can be seen on Kholinar windblades, indicating similar (perhaps shared) origin.
Shallan theorizes that the strata might be veins, though she's unsure of what they would be carrying.
Known strata descriptions:
- Third floor corridor where Sadeas's body is found: "twisted with lines—natural strata of alternating earthy colors, like those made by crem drying in layers."
- Bathhouse where Vedekar Perel's body is found: "spiraled, twisting around the floor, ceiling, and walls like the threads of a screw"; "curving, twisting medley of oranges, reds, and browns—ballooning out across the sides of this chamber in wide bands before coiling back into narrow stripes to continue down the hall that led out the other side"
- On the way to Dalinar's quarters: "wide reddish strata alternating with smaller yellow ones"; "sloping slightly upward"
- Shallan's quarters: "bright circular patterns"
- Room where Dalinar inspects the honor blade: "no strata"
- Sparring room: "grey and black"
- Sadeas' quarters, side room: "muted pattern of strata"; "oranges and reds that blended together so evenly you could almost pretend the wall was all one hue"
- Passageway to the theater: "emerald cast"
- Small chamber where Dalinar and Navani worked: "like the folds of a fan"
- While Shallan chased the Midnight Mother: "danced on the walls"
- Storage room near the top of the tower: "a line of red crystal embedded in the stone wall [...] started at the ceiling and wound all the way down the wall--within the pattern of the light green and grey strata--to the floor. It was smooth to the touch, distinct in texture from the rock around it [...] like the other strata lines ripple out from this one, getting wider as they move away from it"
The Breakaway is a large, cavernous hall as large as a small town within Urithiru's walls. While its previous function is unknown, after the Alethi arrive at the tower, it becomes their central market area, with stalls, food stands, and taverns. Many of the establishments are tents or simply roped-off areas, but an increasing number of permanent structures are being built there. Merchants from all ten highprincedoms mingle here and all kinds of goods can be purchased, including illicit ones like firemoss. The atmosphere is chaotic, busy, and varied. The Breakaway has a large, round well at its center, which, like all wells at Urithiru, never seems to run out of water no matter how much is taken from it. It is unclear where the water comes from.
The Oathgate platforms of Urithiru are arranged in a circle on the grand plateau in front of the tower. The platforms are 10 feet high, with ramps leading up to them. The small control buildings in the center of each platform have mosaics on the floor showing Dawnchant glyphs. In each control room, the keyhole is at the center of a ten-pointed star on a metal plate. At the present, the plateau in front of the Oathgates is used for storing lumber and training soldiers.
A room resembling a theater can be found on the tower's third level, near the Breakaway. It's a large chamber with round walls and rows of stone benches facing a raised platform that served as a stage. This stage can be reached both by stairs from the audience and by a separate entrance. The corridor leading to it is narrow enough to be touched on both sides, and goes by several smaller chambers, possibly dressing rooms. Past the theater's back door (the one which would be, presumably, used by the audience), there is a circular room with large vertical slits in the walls, some of which face Breakaway, although neither it, nor the theater itself can be reached directly from the market. It is there that Shallan puts on a Lightwoven play of The Girl Who Looked Up for Pattern, and where they first encounter Re-Shephir.
The Gem Archive and Re-Shephir's Chamber
The chamber in which the Unmade Re-Shephir hides until being banished by Shallan can be reached from the tower's ground floor, from a room where a large pit with a stone spiral staircase leads down several stories. Rust marks on the wall indicate that part of the stone once served as a secret door, though the hinges have long since decayed and Shallan has to cut her way in with a shardblade.
At the bottom of the staircase, a large archway of individually-placed stones — unusual in Urithiru — leads to a hallway, the ceiling of which has a large mosaic of the heralds. The walls are also covered in mosaics, depicting the ten spren of the Knights Radiant and other, more enigmatic imagery: a figure hovering above the ground embracing a blue disc, the Almighty as a cloud, and a woman in the shape of a tree reaching with her hands toward heavens. Two metal doors on opposite sides of the hall lead to two decayed libraries.
Navani's scholars catalog and remove the debris, turning the area into a meeting hall for those working on uncovering the city's mysteries. Henceforth, it's there that the assemblies concerning the city's functionality and fabrials are held. As is later discovered, the tiles on the walls are actually drawers, holding the Urithiru gem archive.
At the end of the hallway is a bowl-shaped room. At its center stands a twenty-foot-tall column of gemstones, around which Re-Shephir coiled when discovered. The column is comprised of thousands of gemstones of all ten types melted together. Though its appearance is unusual, its purpose — and whether there is a purpose to it beyond decoration — remains unknown. Renarin theorizes that it's a giant fabrial that does "being a city."
On the far side of the room, a tunnel with carved stone steps leads even further below the tower. The passage runs through a long string of caverns, eventually leading to an exit in the foothills of the Tu Fallia mountains. Re-Shephir uses this path to flee Urithiru after her confrontation with Shallan.
The Top Platform
The platform atop Urithiru is the smallest floor of the whole tower. It is open-air, allowing the viewer to observe their entire surroundings. It appears to be Dalinar's favourite spot in the tower to think, and has seen its fair share of notable events related to him, such as him swearing his First and Second Ideals as a Bondsmith and marrying Navani.
The Gallery of Maps
The Gallery of Maps is located near the top of the tower. From the moment the Alethi arrive in the city, it is used as their main meeting room, both for discussing strategy and when speaking with foreign dignitaries. Though it is initially barren, a table is brought in at some point, which Shallan and Dalinar use to create a real-time map of Roshar. It's named after a similar chamber back in the Pinnacle.
Urithiru displays a number of unusual properties that allow humans to survive despite its high altitude. Among those are heightened pressure; increased temperature; and general conditions encouraging plant growth. In addition, there is a number of fabrials, such as the elevators connecting Urithiru's floors and the gem archive capable of preserving recordings of human voices. There is also a strange column of gems in the tower's lower levels, although its current purpose is unclear.
Urithiru was once home of the spren Sibling. However, at some point it withdrew from mankind, and currently slumbers. This explains why many of Urithiru's systems are currently non-functional. At the present, only some elevators work when gemstones are inserted, and the gem archive appears to be the sole functional fabrial remaining. Of the life support system, only increased pressure remains maintained.
Urithiru was constructed at some point early on during the Silver Kingdoms era. Initially, many wished for it to be constructed in Alethela; however, it was eventually built elsewhere, in a place considered to be "closest to Honor". It's unclear whether it was created by Heralds, Surgebinders or Shards themselves.
Though it's unclear whether it was originally built for this purpose, Urithiru was the headquarters of the Knights Radiant orders, as well as the center of the Silver Kingdoms, holding ten thrones, one for each king. Even following the temporary end of the cycle of Desolations, it remained an important location as both the home of the Radiants and the Oathgate hub. During that time, Urithiru had a large population of not only Radiants, but also ordinary people - servants, traders, craftsmen and so on. At one point, the Unmade Re-Shephir invaded the tower, and was trapped and sealed by an unknown Lightweaver.
Eventually, the unknown systems that allowed people to inhabit Urithiru - most importantly, raising its temperature to allow people to live comfortably and grow foods - began to fail for unclear reasons. This forced the Knights Radiant to abandon the tower, leaving behind only the gem archive where they coded their last messages.
Era of Solitude
Though Urithiru had faded into myth by the Era of Solitude, Szeth was familiar with it, and would visit it often after becoming a Truthless. He had gone by the village at the bottom of the tower's mountain so many times that he mused that at some point, they had started thinking of him as some sort of god, leaving out tributes of spheres for him to use for stormlight.
Jasnah Kholin began an effort to rediscover the city after growing convinced that a new Desolation was coming. While she herself was unable to do so, her student, Shallan Davar, managed to complete her works and pinpoint the location of Stormseat, an ancient city that possessed an Oathgate, but was destroyed long before Urithiru was abandoned. She eventually lead the Alethi army to Stormseat--now a listener city called Narak--and, as the listeners summoned the Everstorm, transported them through its Oathgate, rediscovering Urithiru.
Following the arrival of the Everstorm, Urithiru became the centre of Alethi military power, with most highprinces, chief among them House Kholin, relocating there along with their armies. The Alethi began to reinhabit the tower, although they were unable to reactivate most of Urithiru's systems, such as the heating or the main elevator. Following a string of strange accidents, Re-Shephir was tracked down and banished from the tower by a team led by Shallan Davar Several Oathgates--those of Vedenar, Azimir and Thaylen City--were unlocked to reenable fast transportation across the continent.
As a prelude to the Battle of Thaylen Field, the Voidbringers attacked Urithiru through the subverted Kholinar Oathgate. Although initially somewhat successful, they were eventually pushed back and out of the city.
Though massively important in the past, prior to the coming of the Everstorm Urithiru was all but unknown to Vorins who didn't study the Knights Radiant, with Shallan being unfamiliar even with its name. This could be the result of the Hierocracy working to suppress all knowledge of Radiants, similar to how they discredited Surgebinding.
In contrast, Shinovar is familiar with Urithiru, at least insofar as the traditions surrounding it are concerned. According to the Shin, the stones in Urithiru are unhallowed, making them fine to walk on, as opposed to the rest of non-soil-covered Roshar. Szeth also has no problem recognizing Urithiru for what it is, and made it one of his first destinations after becoming Truthless, suggesting that the Shin - or at least their leaders - had known its location all along.
Back before the tower was abandoned, the Knights Radiant would extract payment for the use of Oathgates. Shortly before the Recreance, the tariffs began to increase to the degree that some of their contemporaries found unreasonable. After the Alethi arrive at Urithiru, Dalinar designates Sebarial as Highprince of Commerce there. As has been done before, Sebarial plans to tax passage through the Oathgates in order to provide revenue for the tower city, as it produces little else.
Most trade in Urithiru takes place at the Breakaway. Though Navani had plans for a carefully regulated market, Sebarial has instituted looser controls, resulting in a chaotic marketplace with several black markets and room for illicit goods.
The tower city's economy suffers from three main difficulties: a lack of labor, a lack of supplies, and a lack of infrastructure.
Following the healing of all parshmen during the first Everstorm, the Alethi have suffered from the loss of their menial labor class that carried over as they relocated to Urithiru. To alleviate that, darkeyes of low nahn, as well as soldiers and caravan workers, have been pressed into service doing tasks such as hauling water, to their dismay. In an effort to reduce labor tensions, Adolin encourages these men to form a water haulers' guild to bargain for wages. The lack of parshmen will no doubt result in increased consumer costs as slavery is replaced by payed labor, the wages of which are based on social rank and not very negotiable.
Since Urithiru's crop growing system is non-functional, the city depends on trade to provide supplies. At first, goods flowing into Urithiru through the Oathgates are mostly salvage from the warcamps abandoned during the flight from the Everstorm, harvested by enterprising merchants backed by the highprinces. Dalinar has considered trying to resettle the war camps, but the area has been quietly claimed by those highprinces who stayed behind. Though Sebarial has forests near the camps that could be used to supply the city, harvesting the lumber isn't economical without parshmen. Emeralds for Soulcasting food are also in short supply, despite continued hunting for gemhearts on the Shattered Plains. Later, after King Taravangian joins the alliance, regular shipments begin to come from Jah Keved. Still, there is not enough trade to support the city, leading Bethab to speculate that without a deal with Azir, Urithiru may not be able to support its current population.
Urithiru's non-functional mechanisms have left it with a lack of infrastructure. Waste management has been a particularly notable issue. Communal privies have been set up over former bathing rooms, but these are plagued with long lines. The plumbing of Urithiru keeps clogging, and Soulcasters are constantly working to eliminate the waste. Additionally, at this altitude, heating is a constant problem without magical enhancements.
Another minor issue affecting Urithiru's early economy was the lack of stormlight to infuse spheres. The need for stormlight to power the Oathgates meant that in the period immediately following Urithiru's discovery, when the highstorms disappeared, infused spheres were worth considerably more than face value. Now that the highstorms have returned, spheres can be re-infused by lowering them in large cages down into the storm.
- The stones of Urithiru being unhallowed is part of Shin culture rather than something magical.
- Brandon has confirmed that Urithiru is not a spaceship used to travel from Ashyn to Roshar.
- In similar vein, Brandon has stated that the Kholinar windblades do not power Urithiru. 
- The inspiration for the Breakaway was Korean night markets, street bazaars that typically operate only at night.
- Urithiru may provide passage to the cognitive realm.
- The Way of Kings chapter 45 #
- Map of Roshar
- It is on the east side of a mountain.
— Theoryland - Jan 8th, 2015#
- Oathbringer chapter 46 #
- Oathbringer chapter 58 #
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- The Way of Kings chapter 34 epigraph #
- Oathbringer chapter 103 #
- Words of Radiance interlude I-10 #
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- FanX 2018
— Arcanum - 2018-09-06#
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- JordanCon 2018
— Arcanum - 2018-04-21#
- Nohadon, who lived before the Knights Radiant were founded, visited it, so it had to be fairly early on.
- The Way of Kings chapter 35 epigraph #
- The Way of Kings chapter 46 epigraph #
- Oathbringer chapter 72 epigraph #
- Oathbringer chapter 65 epigraph #
- Oathbringer chapter 61 epigraph #
- Words of Radiance chapter 6 #
- Words of Radiance chapter 47 #
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- Words of Radiance Seattle signing
— Arcanum - 2014-03-08#
- Oathbringer Newcastle signing
— Arcanum - 2017-12-01#
- Oathbringer San Francisco signing
— Arcanum - 2017-11-15#
- Skyward Chicago signing
— Arcanum - 2018-11-16#