Braavos is one of nine free cities and the richest and most powerful of them. It is located on the northwestern tip of Essos, where the Narrow and Shivering Sea merge. Under the rule of Braavos is the so-called Braavosian seaside north of the Velvet Plains controlled by Pentos. Founded by slaves who fled Valyria, Braavos remained a hidden city for a long time, whose location for the outside world remained a mystery for a long time. However, after the fall of Valyria, Braavos became one of the world’s leading maritime powers. Merchant ships from Braavos can be found in any port of Westeros and Essos; Braavos owes all its wealth and power to the sea – trade, fishing, military fleet. Braavos is a republic with an elected ruler, bearing the title of sea lord.
Braavos was founded by runaway slaves and remained a hidden city for a long time. Once the Valyrians intended to build a colony in Sothoryos and for this purpose organized a large expeditionary fleet of slave ships loaded with slaves-colonists. Along the way, the slaves rebelled and slaughtered their masters. Fearing persecution, the rebels deployed ships and instead of the southern seas led the fleet along the Narrow Sea far north, where they built a new city hidden among the bays and rocks.
Among the founders of Braavos were representatives of all the people of Essos.
The first law of Braavos, carved into stone on the bridge over the Long Canal, was the categorical prohibition of slavery. The founders of the city, solemnly swore that no man, woman, or child in the city would ever be a slave. Since then, Braavos has supported the ideals of freedom, fought against all forms of slavery, fought many times with slave traders and their allies.
Braavos is located in a sea lagoon, in the southern part of which flows slowly flowing river with brown waters. The lagoon is filled with numerous islets, and the city is built on them.
It is the land of mists, muddy shoes, and brackish waters. The sea around Braavos is rich in fish and shellfish, and shale, iron, tin, and lead are mined nearby on the mainland. The city is not surrounded by walls, except for the natural rock ridge separating the lagoon from the sea; The Braavos people themselves say that their walls are wooden and painted with crimson paint – these are their warships.
Braavos itself has little space and no trees, so most of the local houses are stone, narrow, four to five floors, with tiled roofs. There are no reeds or straw roofs, usual for Westeros. Many houses stand directly in the water so that the channels between the islets turn into water corridors.
Unlike standing on the hills of King’s Landing, Braavos is almost flat – all its islands are not much towering over the sea. But there are many larger and tall buildings here than in King’s Landing: if there are only three really large buildings in the capital of the Seven Kingdoms (Red Castle, Great Sept of Baylor, and Dragon’s Lair), Braavos has about twenty temples, towers, and palaces of comparable size.
On the channels of Braavos gondolas in the form of sea snakes, with painted heads and raised tails; the rowers on them, dressed in cloaks of low-key colors – gray, brown, mossy-green – wield poles, not paddles. For freight transport large flat-bottom barges are used, where each side has twenty people with poles; sometimes on the canals, you can find whole houseboats with colored lanterns, velvet curtains, and copper statues.
Braavos has several banks dealing with financial transactions; the largest and most significant of them is, in fact, the largest bank in the world – the Iron Bank of Braavos. This bank is so influential that it is able to organize coups d’état and replace those who do not want to repay loans to the debtor rulers more compliant. The Treasury of the Seven Kingdoms, both under Robert Baratheon and under his successors, borrowed from the Iron Bank; after the war, Cersei Lannister, wanting to carve out money for the construction of the fleet, stopped interest payments to the Iron Bank. The bank then sent a representative to Stannis Baratheon.
The secret society of the so-called Faceless in Braavos is known for its assassins, effectiveness, and elusiveness; however, it costs a fortune to hire a Faceless. In fact, the Faceless is more of a religious cult that worships the god of death than a criminal organization. They know how to change their appearance with some magic. It is very likely that the city’s rulers and the Iron Bank are closely associated with the Faceless. Every Braavos, including sailors sailing to foreign countries, knows the password and feedback of the Faceless: “Valar Morghulis” (all men must die) – “Valar Dohaeris” (all men must serve).
The school of fencing
People in Braavos developed its own style of fencing – “water dance” that puts the focus on agility, mobility, rapid and sudden attacks. Experienced fencers of this school, combining not only technical techniques but also original philosophy, are called water dancers. The water dancer was Syrio Forel, who served for nine years as the sea lord’s first sword and then trained Arya Stark in fencing.
Bravo is young slackers and adventurers, which can often be found on the streets of Braavos. They dress in lush outfits of flashy colors and carry light pointed blades. These arrogant and pugnacious street warriors often fight each other: according to bravado, anyone who also carries a gun can be called to a duel. Bravo is found not only in Braavos, but also in other cities: for example, Illyrio Mopatis in his youth was also bravoed in Pentos.
The sea lord of Braavos has a menagerie, which brings outlandish animals from all over the world, where only the Braavos ships go – zebras, giraffes, tigers, even creepy lizards.