Markarth, Markarth Side, Nchuand-Zel, or the City of Stone is one of the nine major cities in Skyrim and the capital of the Eastern Reach Hold. Markarth is unique in Skyrim in that it was originally built by the Dwemer in the Merethic Era.
Markarth is nestled in the Druadach Mountains and is hidden among the mountains in the Reach. Markarth has only one entrance located on the eastern end. Upon entering the town, you are greeted with the marketplace and the local inn. From here is where Markarth splits into three different elevated levels. The lower level has a sizable river and two waterfalls running through it. Places such as Cidhna Mine and the Warrens are located here. These places are where the poor and criminal aspect of Markarth reside and work. The local craftsmen are located here as well as the alchemy shop.
The middle level does not have much. It has part of the river going through it as well as a single house. This place directly leads to Understone Keep, the Jarl's home and where politics are usually talked about in Markarth. The upper level is where many of the wealthier residents stay as well as the bank, and the Temple of Dibella. Outside the city gates, you can find local farms that surprisingly benefit from the cold ridged mountains in the Reach. The primary resource Markarth produces is Silver Ore which the Cidhna Mine produces.
- Markarth Short Pig – Made with White Meat, Apples, Potato, and Frost Mirriam. Rotisserie Style Pork cooked to perfection and seasoned with the finest spices in the Reach.
- Markarth Mead – Made with Barley and Metheglin. This is signature Markarth Mead made from the Barley grown straight out of Salvius Farm.
Nchuand-Zel was the name of the Dwemer ruins modern-day Markarth was known as in the past. Oddly enough trees resembling Junipers are found within the city and seem to hold some significance, regardless, the Dwemer vanished out of the blue, and the Falmer eventually took refuge into the ruins as many did in Skyrim.
During the Alessian Reforms, Ryain Direnni of the Direnni Hegemony rebelled against the Alessian Empire along with other figures such as Kjoric the White and Rislav Larich. Ryain and his army conquered territories such as Markarth and Elinhir as well as sack Orsinium before the Siege of Orsinium with Daggerfall and Sentinel.
In 1E 2801, Emperor Kastav of the Second Empire used the Dragonguard to capture hostages from the cities of Markarth and Hroldan to ensure that the Jarls of Skyrim met with the conscription quotas made out by Kastav. The Master of the Dragonguard did not want to comply, but Kastav ignored the issue and had the Dragonguard take them away. Luckily, the hostages were housed with other acolytes of Sky Haven Temple, where the Dragonguard was stationed.
During the Alliance War, the kingdoms of Western Skyrim (Falkreath, Morthal, Solitude, and Whiterun) split from the Kingdoms of Eastern Skyrim (Dawnstar, Riften, Windhelm, Winterhold) when controversy over the next High King grew greatly. The Reach, as well as Markarth, was independent of both nations and as a result, neutral in the Alliance War. Markarth was under the leadership of someone known as the Despot of Markarth.[OOG 1]
The Despot of Markarth was a very cruel and he commanded an army of Reachman. Markarth's denizens worshiped Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt. At one point, the Despot made an allegiance with Mannimarco, the King of Worms and Javad Tharn of the Nibenay. In 2E 578, Vanus Galerion tracked down Mannimarco in Markarth at the Inner Nchuand-Zel ruins and battled furiously in ruins. Mannimarco escaped, and Galerion rescued an Imperial scribe named Flaccus Terentius. Both Vanus and Flaccus left Markarth and traveled eastward to Windhelm.
During the Imperial Simulacrum, the Markarth Side township existed in Skyrim in between the towns of Snowhawk and Dragon Bridge. At one point, the Eternal Champion had visited the town on their quest for a piece of the Staff of Chaos to defeat Jagar Tharn at the Imperial Palace.
In 4E 174, the Third Aldmeri Dominion attacked the Imperial Province of Cyrodiil in the efforts of installing order under the Thalmor. The Dominion besieged many cities across Cyrodiil and left the Imperial City open to attack. The Imperial Legion situated in the Reach had to leave Skyrim to help defend the Imperial Capital from the Elves. This gave the Forsworn Clan of Reachman the opportunity to capture Markarth and to reclaim the Reach under the leadership of Madanach, the King of Rags.
The rule under the Forsworn was drastically different than in the second era where the Despot of Markarth oppressed the citizens. In the two years that Madanach was in control, Markarth was a peaceful kingdom and tried to convince the Empire into making the Reach an independent nation separate from Skyrim. Before the Empire was able to make a decision, Ulfric Stormcloak of Windhelm created a militia of Nordic Soldiers and besieged the city of Markarth in an event infamously known as the Markarth Incident. Then Jarl Hrolfdir of Markarth was forced by the Thalmor (who became involved in Imperial politics after the Great War) to arrest Ulfric for war crimes. This event was one of the leading causes of the Skyrim Civil War.
In 4E 201, the city of Markarth was under the leadership of Jarl Igmund who, despite Ulfric Stormcloak's help in the Markarth Incident, believes firmly in the Mede Empire and that Ulfric's arrest was beneficial to Skyrim's safety. Around the same time, Ulfric Stormcloak destroys High King Torygg with the power of his Thu'um and initiated the Skyrim Civil War between the Old Holds and the Imperial Holds in Skyrim. The city of Markarth joined Solitude in its fight against the Old Holds of Skyrim.
- Evermore Palace in Bangkorai was built from the granite mined in Markarth. Since Cidhna Mine mines Silver, it can be assumed that Markarth also supplied Granite.
- Markarth replaced the city of Snowhawk as the 8th city of Skyrim around the same time as the release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and the Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition as seen in the provided map in the book.
- When translating the term City of Stone into Dunmeris and Dwemeris, you get the name Bal Fell. Stone is Bal in Dunmeris while City is Fell in Dwemeris.[OOG 2]
- The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls Online (Mentioned only)
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends (Mentioned only)