What the title says.

Image of Ilirea from The Official Eragon Colouring Book Image of the city from The Official Eragon Colouring Book

Assuming that in the image the scales are a bit exaggerated, how high do the books say that the ceiling of Ilirea is over the level of the streets?

I say that the scales are exaggerated because the wall is suposedly 300 feet tall. That's 100 meters. To picture it better, it's like 33 3-meter-stories high. Also, the pyramid of Cheops is just 30 meters higher.

And the highest estimated wall on Earth has been the wall of the round city of Bagdad (30 meters, 90 feet).

To top it off, there are some roofs of human-built houses (no magic involved + medieval age technology) peeking a bit behind the wall, so unless they are 25 or 30 stories high, the scale is overinflated.

  • You're assuming the ground under the overhang is completely flat?
    – Valorum
    May 29, 2022 at 14:18
  • Not exactly, but also it would be very costly for it to be perfectly terraced. I suppose the deeper end is a bit higher than the outside to be able to build a citadel there without an exorbitant cost. May 29, 2022 at 16:43
  • @ Actually Herodotus wrote that the walls of ancient Babylon were about 300 feet tall, though archaeologists disagre. In real life some medieval secular and religious towers were higher than 300 feet tall. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towers_of_Bologna en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Gimignano en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_clock_towers en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_church_buildings Continued May 29, 2022 at 17:24
  • @ Continued en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Also the picture looks like there is a inner wall with towers far behind the outer wall. Unless the inner wall and its towers are at least 300 feet talll the only way they can show above the other wall and its towers is if the ground level rises up behind the outer wall toward the inner cliff. May 29, 2022 at 17:25
  • The towers are okay for points of interest, like the elven towers, but in a city in the middle ages, it's borderline impossible to build more than a handful of towers of that height. It is also impractical. Land prices would be so high that people would go away from the city. May 29, 2022 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


There are three canonical drawings of the city. These drawings should be considered "fairly accurate".

I asked Christopher about this while at NYCC this year. He told me the one in the coloring book is "fairly accurate" and also pointed to his drawing in the then upcoming Murtagh book. (Which is now out.)

Prior to the publication of the coloring book, Christopher had pointed to the illustration in Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia when asked for reference pictures for fan art.

Do you have any concept art of Urû'baen or Ilirea? We wouldn't find much and we want to do the capital city justice!
You can see the small painting of Ilirea/Urû'baen in this.
enter image description here

March 2016 twitter

How high over the ground level is the overhang in Urû'baen?
I don't think I can put an exact number on it.
There is an illustration of it in Murtagh. So you can...
And also there's one in the Coloring Book.
Yeah. I'd say that one's fairly accurate of what I had in mind. And there is obviously magic involved in keeping it from collapsing.
October 2023 interview

Let's look at the three official drawings that have been published.

Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia (2009) (Fred Gambino)

The first image we have was drawn by Fred Gambino for Eragon's Guide to Alagaesia. Unlike the other two, this image is from when the city was still bore it's original elvish city named Ilirea, with the elvish towers intact and without the big wall.

enter image description here

Before it was destroyed during their war with the dragons Ilirea was one of the elves' grandest cities. It was large and orderly, with soaring towers that were so thin and delicate, they looked as if a strong wind might blow them over but which were strong enough to withstand the fiercest gale. The buildings were made of wood, stone, glass, and other, stranger, materials. After the war, the elves abandoned Ilirea and later, gave it to the humans, who rebuilt it, incorporating what remained of the elves' structures. Later still, after the fall of the Riders, Galbatorix renamed the city Urû'baen.

The Official Eragon Coloring Book (2017) (Ciruelo Cabral and Christopher Paolini)

The second image we got is from the coloring book, and was drawn by Ciruelo Cabral. This image reflects Urû'baen as it looked like in the fourth book, prior to the battle. At this point many of the elf towers had been destroyed, and a big wall had been constructed. Christopher Paolini shaded in a copy of this drawing which he then shared on twitter, making this perhaps co-drawn by the author.

enter image description here
Roron's gut tightened. Their only option was to attack before the Empire did. Which meant a frontal assault on Urû'baen—a brazen fool's charge over open ground toward walls too thick to breach and too tall to climb while archers and war machines shot at them the whole time. Just imagining it made a sweat break out on his brow. They would die in droves.

Murtagh (2023) (Christopher Paolini)

The new Murtagh book features a two-page drawing of the city drawn by Christopher. This is from after the Nasuada renamed the city back to Ilirea. At this point the damage from the battle has been repaired, but there are even fewer of the elf towers still standing.

enter image description here

  • 2
    That strikes me as a non-sensible place to put a city
    – Valorum
    Dec 31, 2023 at 10:33
  • @Valorum - Right, it's buttressed with magic, very good, so it cannot collapse from its own weight. What happens when someone uses magic to undermine it? Although, perhaps the buttressing was accomplished by casting many spells over such a long period that no single magician or small group could have enough energy to collapse it on any reasonable time scale.
    – Adamant
    Dec 31, 2023 at 22:46
  • @Adamant - I'm assuming bits fall off it randomly from time to time.
    – Valorum
    Dec 31, 2023 at 22:53

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