Author: Caerwyn Jolan Keye-ree-EHN
Cairhien is the capital city of the nation of Cairhien and is situated in western Cairhien on the River Alguenya, built on the site of what was Al'cair'rahienallen, Hill of the Golden Dawn in the Old Tongue (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 29). The Ogier Grove that stood outside the city was untended after the fall of Almoren in the Trolloc Wars and is now just pasture, though the Waygate remains, as part of what was Barthanes manor and is now the Academy.
The city is a major port on the Alguenya, which flows south to Aringill where it joins the longer Erinin and then to Tear and the Aryth Ocean. The river is to the west of the city and there are substantial walls, among the strongest of any large city in the world, surrounding the city.
The city has two major components, the walled city itself, and the surrounding less formally built area known as the Foregate, connected to the city itself through the Jangai Gate (TGH, Ch. 25). There are differences in style of dress and personality between residents of walled city itself and the Foregaters, which cause social conflict between the two groups. Cairhienin style is to build in very geometric patterns and roads and buildings are laid out in very rectangular or square patterns. The city itself is perfect square, with high walls, interrupted only by the gates, which are well guarded. This style is also picked up in the ornamentation in public buildings such as the palace complex.
- Topless Towers of Cairhien - the tallest towers in any major city.
- Previously, there had been a chapter house of the Illuminators situated just outside the city, but this burnt down (TGS, Ch. 27).
- The Royal Library: Second only to that of Tar Valon, and one of the few places spared during the Aiel War
The Sun Palace
The Royal Palace, also known as the Palace of the Rising Sun in Splendor (ACoS, Ch. 4) and seat of government, square and angular with a look of imposing strength (ToM, Ch. 52). The throne room is known as the Grand Hall of the Sun (TFoH, Ch. 46). The head servant is known as the Holder of the Keys (TPoD, Ch. 12).
Cairhien is also famous for its political intrigue, known as the Game of Houses Daes Dae'mar a game played for advantage by all its many major and minor Houses (families) and comprising the distinguishing feature of Cairhienin government. This game is played in many nations, but most intensely here.