"If it can't be had here, it can't be had on any world."A city populated mainly by merchants, or known for its shopping opportunities. Tends to be a port or somewhere financially strategic. Usually has a Black Market and/or a Bazaar of the Bizarre. You can buy the best available items there, or at least have the most variety to choose from. This is often, but not always the capital or Hub City. On many occasions it will be the hometown of a Proud Merchant Race, and will be the favorite hangout of the Intrepid Merchant. Some are even ruled by Merchant Princes.
— High Market flavor text, Magic: The Gathering
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- The Bazaar on the dimension of Deva in the Myth Adventures series. While it doesn't come close to covering the world's landmass and in fact slowly migrates across it, it's the only settlement, transportation to Deva always routes visitors wherever it presently is rather than to geographic coordinates, and there's nothing else on Deva worth seeing in any event. (The land itself can no longer support life and the natives turned entirely to cross-dimensional trade to support themselves.)
- The Free City of Braavos from A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Also Vaes Dothrak, the sacred city of the Dothraki where merchants come from across the world to trade with each other under the protection of the Horselords who themselves have no concept of money.
- Vorkosigan Saga:
- The aptly named Trading Cities in Invisible Cities, although they play with the idea. One particular city trades stories, another, character roles.
- Discworld's Ankh-Morpork is without compare. Invaders often find that within a few days they no longer own their weapons and are just absorbed into the general ethnic character of the city.
- Gayjur in The Sparrow, and while it's due to his unfortunate life circumstances, Supaari is definitely a Proud Merchant Race Guy.
- Vanity Fair of Pilgrim's Progress.
- The entire Iskoort world in Animorphs was a giant metropolis where one can purchase anything he or she wants.
- The Realm of the Elderlings series has Bingtown, situated near the mouth of the Rain Wild River on the Cursed Shores. The Bingtown Traders consider themselves an exclusive caste, basically rule themselves via the Traders Council and are very proud of being the descendants of those who came to the Cursed Shores with nothing but themselves and not only managed to survive but also to make a fortune.
- Guardians of the Flame: Pandathaway, a port city which is a commercial hub and caters to visitors looking for goods. There is practically nothing that's not out for sale (this also makes it the center of the regional slave trade, much to the heroes' disgust). Merchants and guild heads run it.
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- Dungeons & Dragons
- Forgotten Realms has Waterdeep, Calimport, Raven's Bluff... Amn in general is known as "Merchant's Domain" — people there call the god of death "Black Forecloser" and that's not even a joke. Its capital city Athkatla (nicknamed "City of Coin") is so much of a merchant city, it's a Holy City of the trade goddess.
- Syrania in fourth edition of Eberron.
- The City of Brass, the Efreet capital. In Fourth Edition The City of Brass is stated to be the largest mercantile city in the multiverse.
- The city of Union, introduced in the 3rd Edition Epic Level Handbook. It was founded by the mercane, a Proud Merchant Race with a mysterious aversion to Sigil, and run largely to support the mercane's mercantile empire. Precious little has been done with it since it was first introduced, however.
- Tredroy in GURPS.
- The capital city of Mercadia, Mercadia City, from the Magic: The Gathering set Mercadian Masques.
- Katapesh, and to some degree Druma, in Pathfinder.
- Warhammer Fantasy has the Free City of Marienburg in the Wasteland to the north of the Empire (the Wasteland used to be known as the Westerlands, but ever sine Marienburg bought its independence and refused to return the Imperials have taken to demeaning its importance in every way they can). There is also the far more upmarket High Elf version in Lothern and the Arabyan version in the Spice Port of Copher.
- Extropia, the first and most populous asteroid colonized by the anarcho-capitalist Extropians, in Eclipse Phase.
- Ironclaw has Triskellion, the capital of Calebria and by far the most cosmopolitan city on the island. A century ago the king handed over most governance to a council of trade guilds.
- In Rocket Age G'Pak, the only island city on Mars' silt sea is run by the Pilthuri, the merchant and diplomat class who most other city states look down on and despise. The royal and priests caste have no real power there and are essentially kept around for show, to ensure that other cities don't attempt to use the unusual arrangement against them.
Video Games! You want 'em, we got 'em!
- Mirage, a city in the Cleft of Dimension in Final Fantasy V. When it reappears in the real world it's full of merchants and some of the best items in the game can be bought there.
- Byzel/Baizel in Seiken Densetsu 3 — a port city full of merchants, and has a Black Market that you can access by waiting for it to become night.
- Ironically though, it's the only town in the game where you can't buy regular supplies.
- Illium in Mass Effect 2 is a capitalist heaven: It is an independent planet outside the jurisdiction of any major government and while the planet is extremely rich, there are almost no rules on anything. During your stay, you are constantly bombarded with cheesy comercials and merchants making ridiculous claims to their customers.
- Tradefair, Rogurd's hometown in Black Sigil, is a Merchant City and also has a Black Market.
- In The Legend of Zelda games, the capital is usually like this, often named Castle Town or Windfall Island.
- Pokemon has Celadon City, Goldenrod City, Lilycove City, and Veilstone City. One big department store for each region.
- Constructable in Medieval II: Total War is the Merchants' Quarter, which turns over an entire section of the city to trade.
- Hong Kong in Deus Ex.
- Zoner Freeports and Junker bases in Freelancer are like this, according to rumors on bases, and chatter on Artificial Atmospheric Actions, but Gameplay and Story Segregation is in effect when you visit.
- Quest for Glory II's Shapeir has Katta in every square, selling all sorts of items, that's not taking into account the smithy, apothecary and the joke shop.
- Varrock city in RuneScape is this for players, as it's where the Grand Exchange, a big facility that lets people put their items for sale or buy from other players without direct contact, is located. Ardougne, another big city with lots of stalls in the middle is this for NPCs.
- Before the Grand Exchange was added, it was Varrock for free players and Falador for members, but only on certain merchant worlds.
- The goblin-controlled cities Gadgetzan, Booty Bay, and Ratchet in World of Warcraft. As a Proud Merchant Race they are open to both factions and also provide access to the Neutral Auction House, the only method of cross-faction trading.
- Shattrath and Dalaran used to serve as this when they were the main cities of their respective expansions. Having portals to each of the original capital cities, auction houses, high-end armor vendors, and close proximity to end-game content meant a high player density and trade.
- The Carcino region from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones comes to mind; it's the only nation of the six in the game that doesn't house a Mineral MacGuffin, in favour of being a mercantile state. That said, it doesn't have any particularly special items for the player party purchase ingame...
- Secret of Evermore has Nobilia.
- Guild Wars: In-universe, the Kodash Bazaar is considered this, being the capital of a merchant nation. In gameplay terms, though, it has a pretty average selection of merchants.
- Breath of Fire I: Prima, which is also an Underwater City.
- In Dragon Quest VII, one of the final forms for the immigrant town is the Bazaar, which has shops selling some of the best equipment in the game (including the Metal King Shield, hands down the best shield in the game).
- Tales of the Abyss has Chesedonia. Located directly between Kimlasca and Malkuth (in spite of ongoing tension between the two nations), nearly all goods that cross the border pass through it, and since each country is heavily specialized (with Kimlasca producing weapons, armor and fontech, while Malkuth grows crops for food and medicines), consistent and well-managed trade is an absolute necessity. Notably, if you're somehow incredibly rich early on in the game (if you carried money over onto a New Game+, for example), you can buy weapons there that are ludicrously powerful for your level.
- Any and every province designated a "Centre of Trade" in Europa Universalis III, including several of the real-life examples below.
- The Republic DLC for Crusader Kings II introduces Merchant Republics ruled by families of Merchant Princes, including many Real Life examples.
- Mercantile City-states in Civilization V are named after famous examples from history. Get on their good side and they'll send out shipments of luxury goods to increase major nations' Happiness, including unique goods that can't be obtained any other way. The player can also choose to focus cities on trade by building Wonders such as the Great Lighthouse, Petra, and the East India Company, or turn their entire nation into a Proud Merchant Race by taking up the Commerce and Navigation policy trees.
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- In The Order of the Stick, Sandsedge. A town of tents, but one gathering traders from the whole Western Continent.
- In Drowtales, "Chel'el'Sussoloth was built around the Klar'bol, the market section is literally the heart of the city".
Real Life! While supplies last.
- New York City. It seized the title for the US with the opening of the Erie Canal in the early 19th Century, as the canal made it easiest to ship stuff to and from the then-West (now Midwest) to the rest of the world (i.e., the Eastern Seaboard and across the Atlantic) through New York. Manhattan's Fifth Avenue is world-renowned for its high-end shopping.
- Chicago. On the other end of that east-west overwater trade route from New York was Chicago, because of its location right on a portage (a land bridge where boats or their cargo can easily be transferred between two bodies of water) between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Watershed - the Illinois and Michigan canal was later dug so that passenger, cargo, and ship could traverse together. When the rails began to be laid down, Chicago was the hub for many lines - this is probably the biggest reason for its growth into the Second City as being able to send goods easily in most any direction made it a great trading spot, whether they be the destination of many a Texan cattle drive (Chicago had many slaughterhouses, including the one in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle) or if you're selling stuff by catalogue and use the rails to ship your sales (i.e,. Sears). Chicago's answer to Fifth Avenue for luxury shopping is its own Michigan Avenue, specifically the Magnificent Mile north of The Loop.
- Vancouver is home to a massive port and ships almost all of the goods passing from Canada to Asia and vice versa. As such, you can buy almost anything if you know where to look.
- Name a city-state from medieval or early Renassiance Italy and it's probably a Merchant City.
- Paris, back in her early days. That's why the city's coat-of-arms displays a trim merchant ship in silver (representing money by commerce, not through the royal mint.)
- Amsterdam was and is a commonly used port for trans-Atlantic trade, especially when the Netherlands had overseas colonies.
- Rotterdam doesn't look like it in city centre, but it has the biggest port of Europe, most of it located outside the city and largely automated.
- Germany: Lübeck, Hamburg, Danzig and the rest of the Hanseatic League.
- London specialises in merchant banking these days, but is still a busy port.
- Liverpool in the heyday of the cotton trade, much less so these days.
- An upmarket area of Glasgow directly adjacent to the city centre is called actually called the Merchant City. (Commemorating the fact that before it was an industrial center, Glasgow was a commercial center. Let's not dwell too much on the fact that the commerce it specialized in was the transatlantic slave trade.)
- Novgorod, in Russia, before Ivan the Terrible burned it down.
- The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul - see the page pic. Both land routes (coming in from the east via Anatolia and west through the Balkans) and sea routes (from the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south) converged at Istanbul.
- Tokyo. Two different flavors, too - the modern, fast-paced, latest fashion stuff led by the huge corporations known the world over can be found in the western and southern parts of the city (especially Ginza, Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya); and the smaller shop mom-and-pop entrepreneurs to the north and east around the Sumida River (e.g., the long line of small shops leading to the entrance of the temple at Asakusa).
- Akihabara can be thought of as a mix of these two things - it was a radio and electronic parts mecca after the end of World War II, where shops were small (and often black-market) but one could find parts for nearly anything electronics-related. Then just as the wave for futuristic parts passed, the anime explosion and the emergence of otaku culture starting in the 1980's revived the area, this time as the place where one could get all sorts of anime merchandise.
- Historically, Osaka was this for Japan, as it wasn't until the Tokugawa shogunate was established in the late 16th Century that the center of power shifted east to the Kanto Plain. Being a port very close to the traditional center of power in Kyoto as well as being on the Inland Sea (so it wasn't as given to being trashed by tsunamis and typhoons), rice shipments (samurai were paid in rice) naturally congregated there and gave the otherwise looked-down-upon merchants (who traditionally were considered the lowest of the four classes in Japanese societynote ) economic power over the samurai by the time of the Meiji Restoration.
- Dubai. Started out as an oil center, but what made it leap to the top of the global city list was early diversification into other industries like tourism, finance, and aviation.
- Singapore. Originally a British Crown Colony that thrived on entrepot trade between the East and West, today it is a cosmopolitan metropolis full of shopping centres and features one of the world's busiest ports.
- Hong Kong. Probably the biggest factor in its growth is it sitting right next to China at a time when the latter was closed to Western investment.
- Shanghai. The city historically has had greater commercial impact than the Imperial Chinese government gave it (it wasn't considered an official city until 1927, only considered a county seat for most of its history), but it was one of two major Western-financed centers of banking during the 19th Century until the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War caused most foreign firms to flee for Hong Kong. The city managed to hold itself in the midst of the dearth of opportunities for growth until it was able to start growing again when China began opening up to foreign investment starting in the 1970's.
- Kaesong, a city now located in North Korea, was this during the Goryeo Dynasty, the Dynasty that preceded the Joseon Dynasty that moved it's capital from Kaesong (then called Gaegyeong) to Seoul. The city prospered from trade with the neighboring kingdoms, including Song Dynasty and Heian Japan, and the city's merchants had a reputation for being skilled centuries after the fall of the dynasty. The city was so prosperous that if estimates were correct the city would have a population of half a million (more than the city's current population), which at that time (10th century) was quite a big deal.
- Mumbai for India.
- The Old City in Jerusalem, Israel, due to the amount of tourism and pilgrims stopping there for religious purposes, is more or less filled to the brim with merchant shops on roads between churches, synagogues, and mosques.
- Timbuktu during the 12th through 16th Centuries, as a major trading center of gold, ivory, salt, and slaves. In addition, the University of Timbuktu was one of the largest and most innovative centers of education (actually consisting of three schools centered around the Djinguereber Mosque, the Sidi Yahya Mosque, and the Sankore Madrasah), which further encouraged the spread of books along its trade routes.
- Mogadishu rose to become one of the most prominent merchant centers on the Horn of Africa during the Sultanate era (roughly the 10th through 16th Centuries), being situated on the Indian Ocean and conducting trade along the Arabian Sea - its zenith of prominence is around the 12th to 14th Centuries. The writings of the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, who visited the city in 1331, noted that it was already "an exceedingly large city" that exported many goods like silk to Egypt.
- Similar to Mogadishu, Mombasa also thrived since the Middle Ages under similar conditions in regards to Indian Ocean trade.
- Sao Paulo for Brazil. High-end luxury brands looking to enter the Brazilian market usually start in the Jardins district.