Everyone knows about the cities of Westeros in Game a Thrones (or a Song of Fire and Ice series for those fans of just the books). Westeros is primarily where the series of books and show take place, what with the white walkers impending doom, five kings fighting for supremacy, and every lord and lady plotting their own plots. However across the Narrow Sea lies the continent of Essos, which we only primarily see through Daenerys Targaryen and some other characters in later books.
There is a lot of history and events that occur in Essos, however it is often overshadowed in the books by what is going on in Westeros. George R.R. Martin, however, has created a rich and detailed history for each city.
Part Two contains the following cities:
For other cities, visit Cities of Essos Part One
Spoilers present below, mostly in regards to the leadership and dealings of Meereen and Yunkai
Meereen is sister city to Astapor and Yunkai. Like those cities, it is also a slave trading city ruled over by the Great Masters until Daenaerys Targaryen's arrival, after which she becomes queen of the city. Meereen is larger than Yunkai and Astapor put together, however unlike its sister cities, they do not have a slave specialty. They sell slaves for every use, from guards like Astapor's Unsullied, bed slaves like Yunkai, and general use slaves.
Meereen used to have great cedar grown along the coast, however they were either all chopped down or burned in the war between Valyria and Ghis. The trees will no longer grow and now the ground blows away in great red clouds. In the old days when bronze was still a valuable metal for warfare, Meereen prospered due to the large amount of copper nearby. However, now copper has little worth. It is believed that without slaves, Meereen does not have much to offer.
Myr is one of the nine free cities and is located on the eastern mainland in a vast cove. The city of Myr is ruled by Magisters, which are rich merchants, similar to Pentos. The dark skinned and dark eyed inhabitants are known for being excellent craftsmen. They make the best glass in all the world as well as the best telescopes, which are known as far eyes or myrish eyes.
As well as glass, they also export fine carpets and lace. Readers of the book series will recognize Myr as many of the gowns are made from or lined with fine myrish lace.
They rose up in rebellion against their Volantis rulers with Lys when Aegon rode to conquer Westeros, however they do not have any sort of alliance with Lys. In the first Song of Fire and Ice book Game of Thrones they were being vied for as an ally by both Tyrosh and Lys who were on the verge of ware. however in A Feast of Crows, Myr was facing a war against both Lys and Tyrosh.
Norvos is one of the nine free cities, it is also the only one aside from Qohor to reside on the inland of the continent of Essos. The city sits on the hills next to the tributary Noyne, fed by the massive river Royne. It is a popular city for trade caravans travelling from west to east with their wares. There are many farms surrounding Norvos in its rolling hills.
Norvos is ruled by a High magister and a council. The men in Norvos his long mustaches in which they style and dye various colors. They are masters at creating vibrant tapestries, which are seen as the best in the world. This city is also home to a sparsely mentioned militant order known as the Bearded Priests. These priests take unwanted or orphaned boys and train them to wield a long axe and join their order. After training, they wed their long axes and swear to "Serve. Obey. Protect." They are also branded on the chest with the shape of the axe to always remember to keep their long axes sharp.
Pentos is one of the nine free cities located on the east coast of Essos, north of Myr but south of Braavos. Pentos is considered one of the most populated cities in Essos and has a large trade industry. Pentos is a city where wealth truly equates to power. Pentos is ruled by a Prince who is elected by the fourty families of Pentos. However, the Princes position is mostly ceremonial, the council of wealthy Magisters do most of the ruling.. Many of the rich in Pentos earned their wealth from their expansive spice trade. The people of Pentos often fashion themselves with oiled, dyed and forked beards.
While slavery is banned in Pentos, many of the families have 'servants' which are slave save for the name.
Qarth is considered the center of the world and to their locals the greatest city there ever was and ever will be. It is located to the west of Astapor, Meereen, and Yunkai and southeast of the Red Waste.
Qarth is ruled over by the Pureborn who handle civic manners. However the various merchant guild like the Thirteen, Tourmaline Brotherhood, and Ancient Guild of Spicers all play a role in politics of the city. With the large merchant guild, Qarth has been a large center for commerce for hundreds of years. this has allowed the city to amass an impressive amount of wealth. This wealth is shown off by the brightly colored buildings and ornate statues and other decor. The wealth also funded the three layers of walls that serve as Qarth's protection.
The guards in Qarth wear scaled bronze armor and some of them ride camels layered in colorful blankets and gem encrusted saddles. the Qartheen are tall and pale people that often cry in times of high emotion, as it is a sign of civilization. A unique fashion in Qarth is for the women to wear gowns with one breast exposed.
Qohor is one of the nine free cities and is located furthest inland next to the Dothraki Sea. The city lies by the Forest of Qohor where the wood is greatly sought after, causing their economy to thrive. Like Myr, the Qohorik are great craftsmen. Their blacksmiths have the ability to meld paint onto metals and some have boasted the ability to reproduce Valyrian steel.
Unlike the other cities, Qohor worships a God known as the Black Goat, which is just one of the faces of the Many faced God.
This city is entirely guarded by the Unsullied ever since the Battle of Qohor where three thousand Unsullied defeated fifty thousand Dothraki riders. The Dothraki who surrendered were forced to cut off their braids in defeat. to this day, the Unsullied who guard Qohor still have those braids tied to their spears.
Tyrosh is one of the nine free cities. They are known for being loud and boisterous, constantly starting wars and battling for the various lands around them. They are ruled over my a high magistrate known as an Archon, who is described in the books as having a green beard. The Tyroshi people love to dress in bright colors and color their hair bright colors as well.
Tyrosh is home to many sellswords as it is the city in Essos closest to Westeros, many of them are hired there. They are renowned for pear brandy and their armorsmiths who can make inventive animal helmets and ingenious torture devices.
Vaes Dothrak is the only city of the Dorthraki people which is located far east in the middle of the Dothraki Sea, a sea of tall green grass. While the people of the Dothraki follow the strongest leaders in hordes called Khalasars, the feuding raiders must not shed blood within Vaes Dothrak nor carry their weapons. The city is ruled over by the Dosh Khaleen, who are wives of dead Khals.
There are few houses made of stone, most are made from wood or animal hide. this is due to the fact that the city does not often hold a large population and the city is made from the materials raided from foreign lands.
To greet the returning Khals, they pass through the horse gate that is no gate at all. The horse gate is named for the two fighting stallion statues that serve as an archway. From a distance, the horse gate frames a great purple mountain known as the Mother of Mountains where only men can set foot.
Near Vaes Dothrak lies the Womb of the World, which is a deep lake rumored to have no bottom. As legend says, the first man emerged from that lake thousands of years ago astride the first horse.
Valyria is a ruined city on the southern peninsula of Essos. This city once controled a vast empire all throughout Essos until is was hit by an unspecified Doom. People believe that George R.R. martin was inspired by the lost city of Atlantis for this city. It was said to be an advanced city wielding an advanced knowledge of the arcane arts. When the city was destroyed, many of the secrets were lost including how to produce Valyrian steel swords.
This is the ancestral home of the Targaryen's, however their house was not considered a powerful house in Valyria. Though, like the Targaryen's, the people shared the characteristics of pale skin, silver blonde hair, and purple eyes.
The Doom of Valyria broke apart the peninsula into small islands surrounded by a boiling sea. This suggests that it may have been destroyed by a large earthquake or perhaps a volcano. It is said that anyone who travels to Valyria never returns as the island is haunted or ruled by The Doom still. Sailors believe that anyone that has even seen the peaks of the continent is doomed to die.
Volantis is the last of the nine free cities. It lies at the delta of the massive river of Rhoyne and practices a form of government more similar to democracy compared to the other free cities which are more of a republic.
Each year the freeborn citizens of Volantis elect a new Triarch or reelect a current one. these candidates may only run if they can trace their ancestry back to Valyria. The candidates split themselves into two parties--The tiger and the elephant. The elephants are merchants and bankers while the tigers are old aristocracy and warriors. Elections span ten days in which the city delves into madness. There are speeches, minstrels, activities. Bravos from Braavos fight in honor of their candidate and some Triarch even hire slaves to bed potential voters for their votes.
In Volantis, their slaves wear facial tattoos which pair with their jobs. Bed slaves have tears, dung collectors have flies, fishermen have fish, ect.
Yunkai is the sister city of Astapor and Meereen. Like its sister cities, it flourishes through the slave trade. the city is ruled by the Wise Masters and their slave specialty is bed slaves. Their bed slaves are trained in the ways of the seven sighs and the sixteen seats of pleasure. Unlike Astapor and Meereen, Yunkai is built from yellow bricks, not red.
This was the only one of the sister cities not to be sacked and raided by Daenaerys Targaryen. She decimated their army and Yunkai gave into her demands to release every slave in the city. Yunkai prepared for future conflicts by hiring companies of sellswords and attacking a free Astapor to reclaim it.