The city sits on the northern bank of the White River and is an imposing sight with its massive, ice-covered stone walls. It also has a port, accessible via the city itself. Windhelm is located near the northern border of Eastmarch, near Winterhold and the Pale. It is also close to the border with Morrowind, which can be found by road a relatively short walk up the Velothi Mountains, located east of the city.
Being in the icy north of Skyrim, the city has very cold weather. However, travellers heading toward the Rift or Whiterun will see the landscape turn green and lush almost immediately south of the city limits. Travellers to the city are greeted by the majestic frozen bridge leading to the main gate, but it is the old Palace of Ysgramor (now known as the Palace of the Kings), towering over all other structures in the city, that truly takes the breath away. The palace is considered to be one of the only original First Empire buildings remaining.
The city slopes slightly northward and has different levels of elevation, with the Palace located at the city’s highest point, making it even more visible and striking. The streets have high thick walls around them and are packed with snow, giving the city something of a claustrophobic feel; the sky is always white or overcast, and fierce blizzards batter the city with alarming regularity. It is within these snow-strewn streets and icy alleys that Windhelm’s inhabitants live, usually with an overriding sense of tension.
During The Return, in the late Merethic Era, Ysgramor's son Yngol was separated from the rest of the fleet in a terrible storm. Ysgramor eventually found the shipwreck of Yngol's longboat, the Harakk, and discovered that his son and his crew had been slain by the Sea-Ghosts.
Ysgramor, in grief, decided to build a great city where the nearby river met the sea. It was built as a monument of mankind. The city was designed in Atmoran fashion and was constructed by elven captives. Ysgramor commanded for a great bridge to be constructed, forever striding the river so no elf might sneak through to avenge his devious cousins. As the bridge was built long, so too was the palace built high, spires reaching the sky to show dominion even over the very winds that had brought forth such grief.
Once Ysgramor and his men had settled in this new land, the reign of the Ysgramor Dynasty began, and Windhelm served as the capital city of Skyrim during the First Empire. It is said that a huge tomb was prepared for Ysgramor in the deep hallows beneath the city. However, Ysgramor chose to be buried at sea, facing his homeland, Atmora. Ysgramor's burial place is known as Ysgramor's Tomb.
During the Second Era, under the rule of Jarl Elgryr the Unminded, Windhelm was in an impoverished state. Basic necessities were scarce and the citizens lived in abject poverty. This eventually prompted the citizens to rebel against the Jarl and storm the palace, however it is unknown if the uprising was successful.
During the Oblivion Crisis in the Third Era, Windhelm was the only sizable city in the otherwise determinedly rural Hold of Eastmarch, and served as a base for Imperial troops guarding the Dunmeth Pass into Morrowind.
During the Fourth Era, citizens of Windhelm have much to worry about. Skyrim is now in the throes of Civil War, and Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak leads the rebellion against the Empire. The Dark Elves in the Gray Quarter (formerly known as the Snow Quarter) have grown increasingly disillusioned. Dragons have returned to the world and threaten to destroy Skyrim. And, as if all that weren't bad enough, a mysterious killer has been stalking the snowy streets of Windhelm at night and has already claimed two victims.
- ↑ Dunmer of Skyrim
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Pocket Guide to the Empire, First Edition: Skyrim
- ↑ Songs of the Return, Vol 2
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Songs of the Return, Vol 19
- ↑ Yngol And The Sea-Ghosts
- ↑ Scourge of the Gray Quarter
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Stories of Tamriel: Jorunn the Skald King
- ↑ The Windhelm Letters