Elder Scrolls

Windhelm (Skyrim)

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Windhelm Windhelm
Windhelmmapkey 03
Hold Eastmarch (Skyrim)
Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak
LocationID WindhelmOrigin
For this city in other games, see Windhelm.

Windhelm, also known as the City of Kings, is a city located in northeastern Skyrim. It serves as the capital of The Eastmarch Hold and is also one of the oldest cities in Skyrim, possibly the oldest city of man on Tamriel that's still standing, dating back to the Merethic Era.[1][2]


Windhelm Seal

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 the hold, 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 mountains east of the city.

The city has very cold weather, being in the icy north of Skyrim, however travelers heading toward the Rift or Whiterun will see the landscape turn green and lush almost immediately south of the city limits. Travelers 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.[3]

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.


Merethic Era

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.[4][5][6]

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 built in Atmoran fashion and was made by elven captives.[5] 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.[5]

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 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.[5]

First Era

During the third century of the First Era, Windhelm was sacked during the War of Succession. [3]

Second Era

It was attacked again in the Second Era, in 2E 546, by the Akaviri army of Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal.[3][7]. Only the Palace of the Kings was left undestroyed. [7]

During the Second Era, under the rule of Jarl Elgryr the Unminded, Windhelm was in an impoverished state. Basic necessities were scare 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.[8]

Third Era

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[3].

Each year on the 13th of Sun's Dawn, The Feast of the Dead festival is held in Windhelm to honor Ysgramor and his Five Hundred Companions.[3]

Fourth Era

There's a lot on the minds of the city's residents these days. 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 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.


After the eruption of Red Mountain, many Dunmer fled to Windhelm. Because of heightened suspicion generated by the ongoing Civil War, the strongly nationalist Nords of Windhelm sequestered the Dunmer from the other citizens in what came to be known as the "Gray Quarter," (previously known as the "Snow Quarter") in reference to the Dunmer skin color. Argonians are also segregated from the Nord population and are forced to live at the Argonian Assemblage at the city docks. Ulfric issued a decree forbidding the Argonians from living within the city's walls.

When Ulfric Stormcloak became Jarl, he separated the Dunmer and Argonian immigrants from the native Nord population and founded the militia that would become the Stormcloaks. However, this may have been to stop the Dunmer and Argonians from fighting each other, as in recent years there has been much conflict and hatred between the two peoples, or it may be a simple immigration cap due to the Stormcloaks fear of suspected Imperial spies.

It is suggested, through dialogue with Viola Giordano, that the Dunmer are taxed more heavily than the Nords, and that these taxes can be raised at the Jarl's whim.

Civil War

Palace of the Kings Insignia
The banner of Windhelm is depicted by a bear.
FlightmareAdded by Flightmare

During 4E 201, as civil war rages on, Skyrim becomes a nation divided, and Windhelm becomes the new capital of the Stormcloak Rebellion, the main center of the entire Nord revolution against the Empire.[9] Windhelm is governed by Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak, the leader of the Stormcloaks. Ulfric was chosen as the new Jarl of Windhelm after his father, the previous Jarl, died.[10]

Ulfric believes that Skyrim should secede from what he believes is a crumbling Empire. This stance came about due to the aftermath of the Great War and the introduction of the White-Gold Concordat by the Aldmeri Dominion. But it was not until the Markarth Incident that Ulfric's rebellion truly started.


Joining the Empire during the Main Quest will set Windhelm as the location of the last battle of the civil war.


Windhelm is composed of three quarters:

Stone Quarter

The Stone Quarter is Windhelm’s central district, the one visitors first enter when passing through the Main Gate into the city. It contains the marketplace and the most important shops and inn.

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Gray Quarter

The Gray Quarter was so named because of the large number of Dunmer that reside here. It was once named the “Snow Quarter,” but that was a long time ago. But to the elves, the name “Gray Quarter” is one of derision, cruelty, and discrimination. They believe the Nord people of Windhelm have always seen them as outsiders and hated them because of it.

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Translated from the ancient Nordic, Valunstrad means “Avenue of Valor.” It is the oldest section of Windhelm and has the largest buildings in the entire city, including the ancient and majestic Palace of the Kings and the purchasable property, Hjerim.

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Points of interest




Jarl's residence


Outside the city

Purchasable property

The house in Windhelm, Hjerim, costs 12,000 gold. See main article for how to obtain.





Hero of Skyrim (Achievement)
Hero of Skyrim
Capture Solitude or Windhelm
Points 30 Game points
Silver trophy



Start a Discussion Discussions about Windhelm (Skyrim)

  • Anyone else think

    19 messages
    • wrote: Too bad Ulfric wasn't be-headed in Helgen. I would have applauded right then and there, but I guess his escape was essent...
    • Alduin1996 wrote: Everyone would hate you and Nord would attack on sight And rightfully so of course.
  • Argonians in Windhelm

    7 messages
    • Maybe because the Dragonborn is new there and not a known criminal/skooma addict?
    • Yeah, no. They would not be given the benefit of the doubt

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