How To Worldbuild Cities And Castles | 5 Worldbuilding Tips

Castles may be one of the most noticeable parts in a fantasy world. Vast cities behind mighty walls can offer interesting locations for your heroes to travel to, while also offering a great way to allow your reader to explore the history of your world.

But there are pitfalls a writer can fall into while designing these kinds of cities and fortresses, but worry not, for I’m going to give you three tips to get you started!

Worldbuilding Cities, Castles, And Other Fantasy Locations

Table Of Contents

Creating Unique Locations

We all remember the Red Keep, city of Minas Tirith, and Barad-dûr. These are some of the most unique locations and castles in all of fantasy. They all have an interesting history, are a vital part of the story they are in and are instantly recognizable.

These are the things you want for your fantasy location. They must be memorable.

Of course, not every small village or city can or should be a unique piece of art, but the most important places in your world should definitely get extra care.

So, how do you actually achieve this?

A good way to start is to think about the outlook of your city or castle. There should be something unique about it, maybe the architecture is vastly different from all the other places in your world?

Minas Tirith is a good example. It’s instantly recognizable by anyone who has even heard about the Lord of the Rings movies. It has an interesting look to it that makes it vastly different from other fantasy castles, but it also has a huge part in the actual story.

This is the goal we should be aiming towards when creating our castles. It’s not just a castle, it’s a gateway to the history of your world, a path to countless interesting plot points.

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Creating An Interesting History

Like I mentioned earlier, the location, may it be a city or a fortress, should have an interesting history, a backstory that can open a new and interesting level to your worldbuilding.

Think about the Red Keep from Game of Thrones. It has an interesting history, hailing from the times when the Targaryens came and conquered the Westeros.

The Red Keep without any story attached to it would just be a cool looking keep, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we as storytellers are here to tell stories, not just creating cool architecture.

Thus, I encourage you to think about the following questions:

  • Have there been any conflicts connected to this specific location?
  • Who built/established it?
  • What is the purpose of this particular location? (Think about the Wall that held back the wildlings and the white walkers)

These questions are just some you can use to get your worldbuilding started. Just remember that the possibilities are endless and that it’s alright if your location changes the worldbuilding a bit.

I’ve redesigned entire kingdoms simply because I created a new and interesting location that held a tremendeous amount of interesting history and opportunities for storytelling.

Do not fear and keep writing. The story will unfold itself to you for sure.

Making The Location Practical

This is where you can really connect your location to your actual story.

Think about how this location can offer a new challenge for your heroes, maybe it’s a dangerous bridge that they must cross at one point in the story? This crossing could lead to character conflict and even character death. The possibilities are endless when you start looking for them.

A good example of this would be the Mines of Moria in the Lord of the Rings. It’s a place filled with history, but it also stands as a place where one of the most important events in the first book happens.

There’s little use in creating dozens of epic castles and vast cities that never appear in your story, thus, try to incorporate your creations into your story.

Though a thing to note is that forcing something to work usually never leads to it actually working. Create the things that come naturally to you and let your inner creator guide you.


Thus, we reach the end of this article.

Create an interesting history, add unique architecture, and allow your heroes to seek out this new location during their adventures.

Creating these kinds of locations is a task that cannot be completed quickly. It takes time and a lot of thinking, but the results are worth it.

If you really put your mind into what you’re doing, your marvellous castle might become the next fantasy symbol that everyone instantly recognizes.

Castles and cities are just one part of worldbuilding. They work with all the other elements of your world, thus, as long as they are consistent with your established laws and logic, you’re on your way to greatness.

If you want to learn more about worldbuilding, check out the articles below:

Worldbuilding Language | How To Create A Fantasy Language

How To Name Fictional Characters | Create Memorable And Interesting Names For Your Characters

How To Make Great Fantasy Maps, Even If You Can’t Draw

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