An Overview of Cyrodilic Geography

Tamriel Foundry member and contributor Potentate has submitted a nice overview of the geographical diversity of Cyrodiil, the central and objective province in The Elder Scrolls Online. Read his summary to learn about some of the tactical nuances that will face each of the game’s three alliances in ESO’s alliance war.

From the rocky mountains of High Rock to the swamps of the Black Marsh, Tamriel is home to many provinces but one stands above all others; Cyrodiil. Described by some as the heartland of Tamriel, others perceive it as the source of corruption throughout the continent.

The fighting in Cyrodiil is certain to be fierce.

The fighting in Cyrodiil is certain to be fierce.

Cyrodiil is the large central province which resides in the middle of Tamriel, sharing  borders with Skyrim, Hammerfell, Black Marsh, Morrowind, Elsweyr and Valenwood. The geographic proximity to the homelands of Tamriel’s many races, as well as its importance for politics and trade give the lands of Cyrodiil a tremendous significance to the continent. Sometimes the province has provided central unifying presence, while during other more turbulent eras Cyrodiil has provided the main source of strife and warfare, due to its advantageous location.

Cyrodiil is now ruled by the Empress Regent Clivia Tharn. The Tharns do not carry the blood of the dragons, which means that the agreement Akatosh had with Alessia is now broken and that Daedra are free to pass into Nirn. This raises an interesting question; do the leaders of the three alliances carry dragon blood? If not, who can turn back the hordes of Oblivion and protect Nirn from Daedric incursion?


A Brief History of Cyrodiil

Though now it is home to the Imperials, Cyrodiil used to be the homeland of the Ayleids, the heartland high elves. During the 1st Era a group of elves separated from their kinsmen in the Summerset Isles and resettled in Cyrodiil where they established the  the Ayleid Empire.

The Ayleid government made its seat on the main island on Lake Rumare, where the Imperial City now stands. During the golden days of the Ayleid Empire, they became known across the lands for their open dealings with Daedric princes, who favoured the Ayleids in return for their worship. The elves were granted an army of Daedric warriors to suppress their human slaves from uprising. In time a baseborn human female named Alessia prayed to the god of time, Akatosh, for salvation from the Ayleid Empire and their Daedric army. Akatosh responded by imparting Alessia with the bloodline of the dragon, vowing that as long as the blood of the dragon sat upon the throne the tides of Daedra and un-dead would be stemmed and locked away from helping their Ayleid masters. This intervention allowed the humans to rise up and wage war upon the Ayleids. Ultimately, the elves were defeated and retreated to their great castles built underground or fled from their homeland. In the end, the once great Ayleid Empire was never heard from again.

What secrets will we uncover amidst the war for the Ruby Throne?

What secrets will we uncover amidst the war for the Ruby Throne?

After the decline of the Ayleids, Alessia became known as the slave queen, starting the first Cyrodilic Empire. Upon her death she was proclaimed as the first human saint.


The Landscape of the Crown

Cyrodiil is a pastoral province with green lush grass and sturdy tress where lakes reflect the history of the land. Under this serene facade, there is also a dark presence in the land with the bones of Ayleid buildings rise from the earth like gravestones marking the failure of their empire.

The Major Landmarks and Regions of Cyrodiil

The Major Landmarks and Regions of Cyrodiil

The Nibenay Basin

The Nibenay Basin is a region which borders Morrowind to the east, separated by the rugged Valus Mountains. It is divided by two large rivers, the Silverfish and the Reed. The land itself is open and simple with farms dotting the area. Cheydinhal is the primary city of the region, towards the northern end of the Basin. The southern end of the Nibenay Basin extends into Blackwood, separating Blackmarsh from Elsweyr with the port city of Leyawiin.

The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is home to the mighty city of Anvil, which is one of the major port cities in Tamriel, and one of two ports in Cyrodiil. The region is predominately farmland, and the city of Kvatch presides inland from Anvil. To the northwest lurks the Garlas Malatar, an Ayleid stronghold that is sealed away, its underground complex left untouched by the world outside.

West Weald

The southern border of Cyrodiil with northeast Valenwood and northern Elsweyr is called The West Weald, an open country side with many farmers living in the area. The city of Skingrad is the primary stronghold of the region.

Colovian Highlands

The Colovian Highlands separate Cyrodiil from the Daggerfall province of Hammerfell, and is home to the iconic city of Chorrol.  The Highlands are a hilly region with mountains and forests dotting the landscape.Blackwood

Blackwood is a swampland which joins up with the Black Marsh home of the Argonians. As the land being much of a swamp and be connected to the Black Marsh the area itself is mostly left untouched by the Imperials.

The Great Forest and Heartlands

The Imperial City itself is surrounded to the northwest by the Great Forest which grows on the border between Elsweyr and Cyrodiil. These dense woods are home to caves, castles, and Daedric shrines. To the northeast likes the Heartlands, a pastoral treasure providing a considerable portion of Tamriel’s agricultural production.

The Jerall Mountains

The Jerall Mountains shield Cyrodiil from the freezing harsh winds of Skyrim. The mountain peaks and the danger they contain make these peaks ideal locations for the shrines of Azura, Hermaeus Mora and Namira which are hidden away from the eyes below. The primarily Nordic city of Bruma is stationed below the mountain peaks.


White Gold Tower

White Gold Tower is an iconic landmark throughout Tamriel.

White Gold Tower is an iconic landmark throughout Tamriel.

The White Gold Tower is arguably the most important structure on Nirn. The tower was originally constructed by the Aldmer, but it ultimately fell into possession of the Ayleids who used this as the epicenter and beacon of their power. It is located at the heart of the Imperial City, where this golden tower casts its shadow across the whole of Cyrodiil. During peacetime, the Emperor and the Elder Council rule from While Gold Tower. It is also home to several Elder Scrolls themselves, which are locked away and guarded by the blind Moth Priests are their caretakers.

Though never official sated, it is speculated that the tower itself might be more than just a structure but also a symbol of power required to keep Mundus from dissolving back into the darkness of Oblivion. Though we may never learn the true purpose of White Gold Tower we do know that blood will always be spilled to gain it’s possession.


The State of the Empire

At the time of Elder Scrolls Online the entirety of Cyrodiil is swept-up in a war between three political alliances, while simultaneously suffering under the invasion of Molag Bal. The Prince of Domination has transformed the once lush and Utopian landscape into a battlefield where the sky turns as dark as Coldharbour itself. Molag Bal’s dark anchors pull the land towards his grasp of Molag Bal while his agent Mannimarco transforms the corpses of  fallen soldiers, enslaving them for his undead army. Sensing weakness, evil, and opportunity the three alliances swarm towards Cyrodiil to protect, conquer, and seize power.

As players who travel to Cyrodiil, we will be put in to a hostile war-zone; at any time subject to attack from soldiers of the rival factions or the undead hordes of Mannimarco’s army and the invading Daedra that lead them. Of course if you are the unlucky sort you could simply be squashed by a Dark Anchor falling from the sky.

For self-interested players there is abundant opportunity of finding new areas and wealth in Cyrodiil, however while completing quests there it is likely that you will encounter resistance from enemy players intent on siezing new lands for their alliance.


The Alliance War

We know that Cyrodiil is the epicenter of conflict and the main setting for endgame PvP in The Elder Scrolls Online. In this ongoing war, each faction has established a foothold in its own portion of the province. The likely distribution of these footholds are the Aldmeri Dominion establishing a base of operations in the cities of Skingrad and Bravil, the Daggerfall Covenant claiming Chorrol and Anvil, while  The Ebonheart Pact might contest Bruma and Cheydinhal.

Who will become emperor?

Who will become emperor?

The Aldmeri Dominion enjoys a tactical advantage because the Niben River conveniently blocks any advance from the Ebonheart Pact. The Daggerfall Covenant shares a much smaller border with the central province, but this could be construed as an advantage, allowing them to better defend their homelands. Additionally, the Daggerfall Covenant are exposed on both sides to aggression from Ebonheart or Aldmeri foes without intervening geographical barriers restricting troop movement. One interesting possible advantage is the fact that the main thoroughfare into the Imperial City faces directly towards the heart of Daggerfall territory, perhaps giving them a more direct approach once the Imperial City becomes an active AvA objective. Lastly, the Ebonheart Pact seems to have the largest territorial advantage, as well as the tactical benefit of being separated from the Aldmeri dominion by the Niben Bay. It will certainly be interesting to see how the geographic diversity of Cyrodiil affects the tactical opportunities of each of the game’s three alliances.


Many thanks to Potentate for his informative article. Let’s hear what you all think about the prospects for Cyrodiil in ESO. How do you think the geography of the province will play into the tactics employed in AvA combat. Do you think any one alliance has an inherent geographic advantage? What do you think will be the key cities, fortresses  and ruins that we will fight over? Is there any landmark from Oblivion you specifically hope makes it into ESO? Let us know in the comments section below!

46 responses to “An Overview of Cyrodilic Geography”

  1. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 527

    Bosmer Templar

    This is a really nice article especially if you have not played Oblivion. As someone who just recently bought Oblivion it’s interesting to read about the lands I am just discovering.

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    Total Posts: 1771

    Breton Nightblade

    Great read. I’m curious to know how ZOS chooses to represent many of the natural barries and the effect these barries have on keep placement.

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    Total Posts: 1788

    Altmer Templar

    Entropy Rising

    Awesome article. Always love to see community members getting involved in such big ways. +10 internets for you today sir!


    EDIT: I would like to add that this really intrigues me to the possibilities of geographical advantages and how they could implement them in a fun but also fair way. Definitely can’t wait to find out how they do it but I highly suspect we will see the use of “realm gates” of some sort in the game (DAOC players will be familiar with this term). Basically it will be big walls with gates that only a certain alliance can pass through freely – thus limiting potential attack locations.

  4. Profile Photo
    Lord Dormak


    Total Posts: 32

    Breton Templar

    Knights of the Eight

    Perhaps the player is the one with dragon blood? Maby that’s why Molag Bal is keeping his/her soul..

    I don’t know, its just an idea.

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    Total Posts: 342

    Nord Templar

    Discover Eventide

    A wind of nostalgia swept over me when I saw that map of cyrodiil.
  6. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 36

    Breton Templar

    The Noore

    For people who think the daggerfall area is small, have you ever played skyrim? the map is huge, and the daggerfall area is bigger then skyrim. So even if it look’s small compared to the other area’s its still pretty big!

    Here is a challenge, Try finding one video on youtube that has over 10k view’s with no hater’s in the comment’s. Message me the link if you do :D 

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    Boromir WolfsBane


    Total Posts: 214

    Nord Templar


    Amazing article!!! :)


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    Total Posts: 60

    Khajiit Nightblade

    Wow this is pretty good it got better and better as you read on, the last part is the most interesting to me.

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    Total Posts: 5078

    Bosmer Dragonknight

    Even though the Aldmeri Dominion has a river “protecting” their flank from the Ebonheart Pact, one should note that the province it’s protected from is Black Marsh, known for the water-breathing Argonians.

    If you want to hide something evil, hide it in something boring.

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    Total Posts: 445

    Altmer Sorcerer

    That was a great article! Kudos! Quality read!

    – The Oprah Has Spoken

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    Total Posts: 68

    Orc Dragonknight

    Tamriel’s Finest

    just to think. that map is just the size if cyrodil. The Elder Scrolls Onlines will be ALL OF TAMRIEL. that’s really fricken big. this gets me so anxious to think about a=how much i have to do. i’ll never be able to finish this all!:D

    Tamriel’s Finest, the guild for real hero’s and kings!

    Join us today!

  12. Profile Photo
    The Human Floyd


    Total Posts: 53

    Argonian Sorcerer

    So cool to see a well-written article that appeals to both lore and PvP fans. Great work, man!

    “If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” – Tao Te Ching

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    Total Posts: 221

    Argonian Templar

    Can’t wait to get this game and go into cyrodil and start pvping





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    Total Posts: 10

    Nord Dragonknight

    This adds a whole knew aspect go the game. Mind blown…

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    Total Posts: 137

    Dunmer Sorcerer

    I’m not normally too interested in PvP but the way ESO has done it does interest me a great deal.

    Respect creates friendships, Loyalty binds them. Hlaevi Family motto. 

  16. Profile Photo
    last son of atmora


    Total Posts: 6

    Nord Dragonknight

    Looking forward to sieging the cities and the large scale battels

  17. Profile Photo
    Umaril the Unfeathered


    Total Posts: 3414

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Hah, I knew I’d get a mention in this article somewhere!

    Thanks for the excellent article, @Potentate

    *Formerly known by the username ”GarlasMalatar”*

    ”What is better? To be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?”Paarthurnax

    ”Shanta, ehlno.  Tyavoy balangua!” ~ Umaril the Unfeathered

    ”Welcome, Nerevar. Together we shall speak for the Law and the Land and shall drive the mongrel dogs of the Empire from Morrowind.” ~ Dagoth Ur

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    Total Posts: 180

    Redguard Dragonknight


    ESO’s Daggerfall Brovenant Cross-Platform Guild (Click sig above for more details)

    Respect will be earned or taken; It’s that simple.

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    Total Posts: 575

    Argonian Templar


    Nice article!

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    Total Posts: 2841

    Breton Templar


    Thanks in bunches for taking the time to put this valuable information together.

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