Astapor is in the southernmost region of Slaver’s Bay, known for its massive slave trade. The city is close to Yunkai and Meereen; though it was once a great city, its population has dwindled. Because of its dealings with slaves, many free cities traded with it. Besides being a slave hub, the city has a deep dark history that stipulates that its walls got built with the blood of slaves; this rumor is backed by red bricks and red dust everywhere.
- Name: Astapor.
- Continent: Essos.
- Region: Slaver’s Bay.
- Emblem: A variation of the harpy of Old Ghis featuring a woman’s torso, a bat’s wings, a scorpion’s tail, and an eagle’s legs. A chain hangs from the harpy’s talons with open manacles on each end.
- Year Founded: Thousands of Years Ago by the Ghiscari Empire.
- Government in Charge: Ruling Council of Astapor and the Good Masters.
- Notable Organizations: Graces
Astapor is a port city in Slaver’s Bay and a noted stopping point for ships traveling from Qarth to the Free Cities and Westeros. Atop its harbor gate is a statue portraying Astapor’s sigil, the Astapori Harpy. On the bay shore of the city, there are many great stepped pyramids. The city has big red walls made from bricks claimed to be mixed with the blood of slaves. Inside the city are fighting pits, plazas, and fountains.
Though the walls are big, they are all deserted, as the city’s population has been reducing over the years. In Astapor, an old saying says: ‘Bricks and blood built Astapor, and bricks and blood, her people.’ The rhyme stresses the rumor that the red bricks of the city got made with the blood of slaves.
The Plaza of Pride and Plaza of Punishment
Many places of attraction and plazas scattered throughout Astapor are perfect for trade and exploration. One of the most popular plazas in the city is the plaza of pride. It is an open market where slavers take their customers to see what they purchased. In the center of the plaza is a red brick fountain with a hammered bronze version of the Astapori Harpy. A second popular plaza in the city is the plaza of punishment, where new slaves get sold. At the plaza’s gate, executed or punished slaves are displayed to show what happens when one disobeys.
Just like Meereen, there are fighting pits in Astapor. They are used for entertainment and are dug deep into the ground with layered seats like rings. The fighting arenas get named after their owners, and many nefarious activities, like children getting pitted against wild animals, take place.
People and Economy
Though Astapor is an ancient city, its population is significantly smaller than cities like Pentos, Lys, and Qarth. There are many mixed ethnic groups in the city. However, the two most used languages are High Valyrian and Old Ghiscari.
Because most people in the city are descendants of the Old Ghiscari empire, they have the same features of amber skin, dark eyes, black or red hair, and broad noses. Freeborn citizens wear tokars, and the fringes on the dresses represent one’s nobility. To keep the red dust of the city walls from their eyes, Astapori women wear veils.
Many Astapori guards dress in tunics made from linen and wear pleated linen skirts ad sandals. They shape their hair into many art forms depicting horns and blades and act like they are still rulers of the Old Empire of Ghis.
For its economy, Astapor heavily relies on slave trading. With more than one hundred slave traders, slaves of all kinds, including bed slaves, tutor slaves, and eunuch soldier slaves, traded daily. The Dothraki are responsible for many slaves sold in the city.
Astapor got founded thousands of years ago as a colony of the Old Empire of Ghis. When the Valyrians discovered dragons, they began building their empire and expanding throughout Essos. Though the Ghiscari Empire tried to stop them, they were no match for the dragonlords.
Soon, the Old Ghiscari Empire fell to the Valyrians. Though they took over as the dominant power, the Valyrians continued the slavery culture, and Astapor remained a hot spot for slave trading. When the Doom of Valyria destroyed the Freehold, Slaver’s Bay fell into the hands of the Ghisari. During the Century of Blood, the Dothraki tried to conquer the Red City. However, when three thousand Unsullied defeated the nomads, no one fought the city again.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
When an attempt on Daenerys Targaryen and her unborn son fails, her husband, Khal Drogo, promises her the Iron throne of Westeros. To get ships for sailing to Westeros, he destroys other Khalasars and takes their people as slaves. When Drogo conquers Khal Ogo’s khalasar, he gets wounded. The wound later festers, and he dies.
A Storm of Swords
After leaving Qarth, Ser Jorah Mormont convinces Daenerys to sail to Astapor, one of the great city-states of Slaver’s Bay, and get an army of unsullied soldiers. On getting to the city, she meets Kraznys mo Nakloz and asks for his unsullied in exchange for her dragons. When the slaver hands ownership to her, Daenerys orders the soldiers to sack the city. She asks the soldiers to choose their names and commander, and Grey Worm gets chosen. She then commands that the slaves get freed. On leaving the city, she puts a council of three men to govern. However, they get executed by Cleon, a butcher.
A Dance with Dragons
After leaving Astapor for its sister cities, Daenerys arrives at Meereen. She learns from Lord Ghael, an emissary, that Yunkai’i has attacked the city. He requests help, but she tells him the city has to defend itself without her help. A Civil War erupts in Astapor as Cleon and his rival, Cleon the Second, get killed. Though an army of unsullied tries to defeat the Yunkish forces, they are quickly defeated.
On gaining entry into the city, the Yunkish forces kill the remaining rivals in the Civil War and take over the city. Due to the intense bloodshed and corpses in the city, a disease called the bloodyflux begins spreading. The survivors from the war travel to Meereen, but Daenerys closes the gates to prevent the flux from entering the city. Later, a peace treaty gets made to restore Astapor to its former glory. In Meereen, the Sons of the Harpy begin terrorizing Daenerys, and she marries Hizdahr to stop the killings. She later flies away on Drogon, and Ser Barristan Selmy imprisons Hizdahr.
Relevance in Adaptations
In HBO’s Game of Thrones, Astapor was crucial to Daenerys’s rise to power. As one of the cities of Slaver’s Bay, she got her first large army, the Unsullied, from the city. The flag of Astapor featured the Ghiscari harpy. The Red City was notorious for its slave trading. However, when Daenerys arrived, she abolished slave trading and killed slavers.
Astapor: The City of Slaves
Astapor is a city that shows how unchangeable human nature is. When Daenerys arrived, she freed the slaves, thinking they would move forward and find a better way to grow. However, she realized that her conquest was useless as the slaves she freed began enslaving others; this shows that though one may believe human nature could change from bad to good, people rarely change on the inside.
What did Daenerys do in Astapor?
After visiting the House of the Undying in Qarth, Daenerys traveled to Astapor at the advice of Jorah Mormont. She got an army of Unsullied and used them to free all the slaves. She then traveled to Meereen.
Why was Astapor a slave trading hub?
Astapor is a port city crucial to the trade between Essos and Westeros. Because it was also a connector between Qarth and other Free Cities, it was essential for Essos’s economy. As Slaver’s Bay heavily dealt with trading slaves, Astapor connected slavers to potential buyers.
Why did Yunkai’i invade Astapor?
After Daenerys freed the slaves in Astapor, a Civil War erupted. Yunkai’s invaded to restore normalcy and reinstate the system that had kept Slaver’s Bay prosperous.
Which was worse, the Civil War of Astapor or Westeros?
When Quentyn Martell passed the horrific Astapor after the deaths and destruction, he claimed it was the closest thing to hell on Earth and hoped for nothing worse.