Some cities are just places where a lot of people live and work. Some are seats of worldly authorities, elevating them above others. And then there is the Holy City, a site so intrinsically tied to a [[TheChurch particular religion]] that it became a symbol of faith all by itself. In peacetime, it will result in thousands to millions of devoted pilgrims visiting it every day. In wartime, [[HoldTheLine expect it to be defended to the last breath]], even more so than a national capital (unless it ''is'' the [[UsefulNotes/{{Rome}} national capital]]), and the consequences if it is ever sacked by an invader are either [[DespairEventHorizon a lot graver]] or [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge a lot worse for the other side]].

Holy cities come in two flavors:

* UsefulNotes/{{Vatican|City}}-style: The seat of the HighPriest, ThePope, or the head of TheChurch by any other name.
* UsefulNotes/{{Jerusalem}}-style: A city historically important to religion but not directly under its influence.

See also HolyGround.
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!!Examples

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Rabona in ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'', by the virtue of being at the center of all known lands.
* Northen District of Mid-Childa in ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'', governed by the Saint Church.
* ''Manga/SailorMoon'': The ruins of the Moon Kingdom on the moon. In the manga, Sailor Moon's power-up came from praying to the crystal tower.
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[[folder:Film]]
* The Hometree in ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' serves as both a city and a sacred site for the Na'vi, though not as sacred as the Tree of Souls (which, on the other hand, isn't really a city).
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[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'': Terminus is the holy ''planet'' of the Religion of Science.
* Rhuidean from ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' series is a Jerusalem-style holy city for the Aiel.
* Cantisca for the Sole and Unified Church in the ''Literature/ArciaChronicles''.
* Agaris for the Esperatian Church in ''Literature/ReflectionsOfEterna'' [[spoiler:until it is razed and burned to the ground]].
* On Literature/{{Gor}} the one holy place is the Sardar Mountains, where the [[{{God}} Priest-Kings]] live. Four times a year, at the solstices and equinoxes, there is a fair at the base of the mountain. Every Gorean is expected to attend the fair at least once before their 25th birthday.
* In Creator/CatherynneMValente's ''[[Literature/TheOrphansTales In The Night Garden]]'', the city of Al-a-Nur is a Holy City where stand twelve Towers, each a temple for a completely different faith, from the Tower of Sun and Moon, to the Tower of Patricides, to the Tower of St. Sigrid, etc. In Al-a-Nur, all the different devotees live together in harmony.
* The Citadel of Kom, capital of the Theocracy of Omnia and centre of the Church of Om in the Literature/{{Discworld}} novel ''Discworld/SmallGods'' is a Vatican-style holy city. (It's also in the [[FantasyCounterpartCulture Discworld version]] of the Middle East, [[CultureChopSuey about where Jerusalem would be]]...)
* The middle third of ''Literature/AWolfInTheSoul'' takes place in Jerusalem. The protagonist moves there deliberately under the belief/hope that it will help him fight off his [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent lycanthropy]].
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' has Celestis, a holy city populated entirely by the Priors of the Ori, and located on a vast, flat plain of very shallow water. The Ori themselves manifest a sacred eternal fire there that they use to communicate with the Doci, their head priest.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* A ton of them in ''{{Eberron}}''.
** Flamekeep in Thrane for the Church of the Silver Flame, both a Jerusalem and Vatican style, as it hosts the Silver Flame itself and the Speaker of the Flame and High Cardinals.
** Ashtakala in the Demon Wastes, an evil version, for the Rhakshasas and the Lords of Dust. A Jerusalem-style (Former capital of their empire).
** Greenheart in the Eldeen Reaches for the Wardens of the Woods, a Vatican-style (home of the Great Druid Oalian).
** Shae Mordai in Aerenal, the City of the Dead hosts the Undying Court the elves worship. A vatican-Style.
** Most of the cities of Adar are also temples of various monk orders.
** Athur in Karrnath is a Vatican-style. It houses the Crimson Monastery of the Blood of Vol. The religion's true figurehead, Vol, lives somewhere else. The monastery is home to the cardinals who spread her teachings.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', [[PlanetTerra Holy Terra]], besides serving as capital for [[TheEmpire the Imperium]], is also the seat for the [[GodEmperor Imperial Cult]] and [[ChurchMilitant Ecclesiarchy]]. There's literally a galaxy's worth of other holy worlds, of course, including Cardinal Worlds ruled directly by the Ecclesiarchy, and Shrine Worlds dedicated to an Imperial Saint. And in a weird example, the Imperial fortress-planet of Cadia is a holy site to the heretical Word Bearers legion, since it's where their primarch converted to worship the [[GodOfEvil Chaos Gods]] before the HorusHeresy.
* In ForgottenRealms many people consider cities visited during Time of Troubles by deities they venerate to be especially blessed, worthy of pilgrimage or something like this.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} IV'' introduced religions to the series, and when you found a religion by researching the requisite technology, one of your cities will become its holy city. Not only will a holy city help spread the religion further, but a Great Prophet can build a religious wonder in it that brings in extra income based on how widespread the religion is. Capturing holy cities can thus be very lucrative even if you don't share the religion in question... and if you burn a holy city to the ground, you can expect severe diplomatic consequences.
* In the ''Franchise/DragonAge'' series:
** Val Royeaux is the capital of the Chantry of Andraste.
** Ditto Minrathous for the Imperial Chantry.
** Denerim, the birthplace of Andraste, is also this, albeit Jerusalem-style. Though a few other cities claim they're the birthplace of Andraste as well.
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'' features several important religious locales home to the Templars, but none are more important than the Holy Isle of Neos. [[spoiler:The city and its population are systematically wiped out when [[TheManBehindTheMan Rhapthorne]] [[SealedEvilInACan finally escapes from his sceptre]] and levels the once-sacred place to serve as his stronghold, the Dark Citadel. Neos has some good equipment, [[LostForever so you might want to avoid the plot for a bit]].]]
* Sienne in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn]]'', home of the Tower of Guidance, Mainal Cathedral, and the Holy Apostle, Empress of Begnion.
* St. Heim Papal State for the Church of Granas in ''GrandiaII''.
* High Charity, a colossal, mobile planetoid that serves as the capital of [[ScaryDogmaticAliens the Covenant]] and the Prophets' Holy City in the ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' series.
* At the time of ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'', the eponymous province has three Holy Cities, one for each of the three Tribunal gods. Almalexia and Vivec are clear Vatican-style cities, as they not only house the deities they're named after but also high-ranking Temple officials (the head of the Temple in Vvardenfell in Vivec and the head of the Temple on the mainland in Almalexia). Sotha Sil... is a bit more complex, as the inhabiting god stays away from mortal affairs, and the city's location is unknown to mortals (and, as such, has no mortal inhabitants).
* Daath, where the [[CrystalDragonJesus Order of Lorelei]] is based in ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' is a Vatican-style Holy City. "The Watchers' Home", Yulia City, is something of a hybrid of the Vatican-style and Jerusalem-style, being linked with the Order and historically significant to it, though only high-ranking members and residents of the city even know of its existence.
* Luxerion in ''VideoGame/LightningReturnsFinalFantasyXIII'' is the capital of Nova Chrysalia and the headquarters of the Order of Salvation.
* Mullonde in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' is where the Church of Glabados is based out of. It wasn't always an island; the CataclysmBackstory tells us that a powerful earthquake destroyed much of the original Mullonde region after St. Ajora Glabados was executed by the Holy Ydoran Empire.
* Yet another Vatican-style location is the city-state of Nirvath in ''VideoGame/VandalHearts II'', particularly its greatest landmark Nigran Cathedral. [[spoiler: It's also the location of the final battle, and it collapses after defeating the last boss.]]

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[[folder:Real Life]]
* UsefulNotes/{{Jerusalem}} is probably the UrExample. It's ''the'' Holy City of three world religions (in chronological order): UsefulNotes/{{Judaism}}, UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}}, and UsefulNotes/{{Islam}}.
* For the Catholic Church, UsefulNotes/VaticanCity and, by extension, the whole of UsefulNotes/{{Rome}}.
** Some popes and cardinals did try to change Avignon, France, into an alternative Holy City to Rome in the 14th century.
* Mecca and Medina for UsefulNotes/{{Islam}}. See also the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holiest_sites_in_Islam list of holy sites in Islam]] on TheOtherWiki.
* Constantinople, before it was UsefulNotes/{{Istanbul}}, has some aspects of this for the Greek Orthodox Church.
* Alexandria, seat of the Coptic Pope (who lives in UsefulNotes/{{Cairo}} these days, but who's counting?).
* Salt Lake City is this for the [[UsefulNotes/{{Mormonism}} Latter-Day Saints]].
* Kyoto is not only the seat of UsefulNotes/{{Shinto}}, but also a revered historical city for more secular Japanese.
* To a lesser extent, Canterbury in England. It was a very common destination for [[Literature/TheCanterburyTales pilgrimages]] on account of its beautiful cathedral and it being the site of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket.
** Not lesser; in the context of Christianity in England. Canterbury is a major pilgrimage site today and is the heart of the Anglican church. Also the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, although he lives in Lambeth Palace in London.
* Echmiadzin for the Armenian church.
* The Russian Orthodox Church is led out of Sergiev Posad.
* In addition to Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias are holy cities in Judaism.
* There used to be a Muslim proverb, "The holier the city, the wickeder its people." While that is probably not true, the contrast makes it noticeable, and anyway it is likely easier to fleece pilgrims, whose only qualification is having money to travel, than it is to fleece merchants who have been at the game long enough to know all the tricks.
* Serbs have been known to refer to Kosovo as their equivalent to Jerusalem, which would make it a holy province.
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