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Frequently in fiction, your typical city tends to take the view that when it comes to defense, Crazy-Prepared is good. Very good.

In fantasy or medieval settings, such a city will always have high and thick walls, which usually enclose the entire city and watchtowers. The thick walls will constantly be patrolled by a sizable force of guards, who are very well-armed, -armored, and -trained. These guards will also frequently have ready access to heavy artillery for defensive use, including catapults, ballistae, and/or even (if the setting allows it) cannons. A moat is usually present as well, usually filled with water or sharpened stakes, but which in more fantastical settings may also be filled with molten rock or home to large, hungry beasts.

More modern settings will feature naturally updated defenses, from electric fences to bomb shelters. Futuristic settings will have Force Fields, automated turrets, and even more strange and novel mechanisms. One which protects large areas of land around the city may surround them with The Great Wall.

Of course, the practicality and costs of creating and maintaining these defenses will never be brought up, as well as the original reasons for creating said defenses. This usually means that these defenses vaguely imply a Crapsack World with a horde of rapacious invaders; after all, there would have to be some justification for those preparations in the first place, even if it's never explicitly stated.

If these defenses are put to the test (and they usually will be), the results will vary, depending on the work. These can range from the city being destroyed to showcase how prepared/numerous/tough the armies of the villain(s) are, to pretty much holding up to whatever gets thrown at them with little effort.

This is a subtrope of Crazy-Prepared. See also The Siege, in which the invaders surround the citadel to cut off its supplies. If the defenses fall, the after effects may include Watching Troy Burn.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • Midland's capital city of Windham, a population center and seat of the nobility and monarchy, is surrounded by curtain wall and patrolled by royal troops, which our heroes find out makes it as difficult to escape as it is to get in uninvited. Unfortunately it isn't enough to repel a surprise invasion when the Kushan show up en masse and the kingdom's forces have been dispersed throughout the land because of the king's madness.
    • The port city of Vritannis is a powerful city state that grew wealthy from international banking and trade, so that it becomes the natural staging area for the armies of the Holy Alliance. The Kushan invasion makes its great walls, moat, and adjacency to the sea seem like good investments, although they would have been screwed anyway without the arrival of The Cavalry.
    • As of the end of the Millennium Falcon Arc, Griffith's new capital city of Falconia is a shining metropolis of white stone with soaring, gargantuan walls all around, multiple layers of fortification on the inside including gatehouses and drawbridges, and a kind of acropolis elevated above the rest of the city where the Falcon himself goes to roost.
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has "Barrier Cities" with glowing orange forcefields that repel alien invaders that can phase through normal matter.
  • Gunka No Blazer: The inner section of Baselland's capital city is arranged like a star fort.
  • In Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress the station cities are the only measure of safety for the remaining population of a steampunk alternate Japan. To hold back the tides of the undead Kabane, these cities have thick walls and cannon mounts as well as armies of bushi, while sending out armoured trains for trade and transportation. Sadly against their mighty foes, even these aren't enough.
  • Macross:
    • The SDF-1 Macross of Super Dimension Fortress Macross/season one of Robotech houses a city within itself, after accidentally taking it with them during a space fold.
    • The New Macross-class colonization ships of the later series fit to a degree as well. Equipped with massive, armoured domes that can be closed to protect against external threats (either hostile forces or natural threats like space debris) and with a detachable battleship section that is usually the most powerful vessel in the fleet's military escorts courtesy of a Macross cannon
    • Forget cities, by the time of Macross Plus, Earth is a Citadel Planet with enough ordnance defending it that you probably walk around it in low orbit.
  • On top of the walls surrounding the entire civilized world of Attack on Titan, there are more straightforward examples in the form of cities like Zhiganshina and Trost, placed just outside of the main structure of the walls with outcroppings surrounding them. The heavy guard and gun presence on the walls of those cities is actually a cost saving measure for the rest of the wall; manning the entire wall would spread defenses impractically thin, so the cities are set out as bait to draw the Titans to specific points where defensive elements can be concentrated.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has Tokyo-3 which has a number of defensive systems surrounding the city (namely missile systems), the Evangelions, structures that hold EVA-scale weapons and buildings that can retract underground for safety. Beneath the ground are multiple layers of armored plating and bunkers for citizens to hide in. In fact, the city was built to fend off the coming Angels.
  • The anime of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze shows the main base of the Faery Air Force (FAF). After 30 years of existence, it has gone from being merely a military base under special U.N. jurisdiction to to full blown city that's become largely autonymous from that organization in practice. Domed to protect against the hostile environment of the Faery world, FAF airbase is safe from enemy attack with its autocannons and bleeding-edge combat planes. The much smaller forward bases aren't so lucky and vulnerable to enemy infiltration or assault.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair the city of Lyrias is protected by thick defensive walls and a series of well guarded gates though some residential buildings have sprawled to the outside of the walls. In addition to hosting an impressive series of libraries in the academy district the city is also a northern checkpoint for goods and people entering the kingdom of Clarines.

    Comic Books 
  • Barbarella Sogo is surrounded by an impassable Labyrinth.
  • Judge Dredd has Megacities with massive defenses against infiltration from the Cursed Earth, strategic and tactical air defense, and armed forces ranging from the Judges themselves to emergency Bloc militias. And entire megacities still get wiped out.
  • X of Swords features an ancient background event, a demonic invasion by Amenth on the land of Arrako, the mutants beat them back and undertook a counterattack. This would lead to mutant engineers and alchemists to create ten towers that fired powerful energy bolts. They established a secure beachhead into the dimension of Amenth and in the safety of the towers, a city and new generations of mutants were born. Thousands of years later, this came to an end, with the rise of the demon/mutant hybrid "summoners".
  • In Zenescope Entertainment's The Courier, it's After the End from attacks by the zombie-like Primals. Every surviving villa, town or city is enclosed with some kind of barrier, from chain-link fence to the concrete fortress walls of Liberty (formerly Philadelphia) to give varying degrees of Cozy Catastrophe. In fact, technology continues to advance in the cities - they're capable of creating jet-powered A.I. drones the size of a bowling ball and developed new lines of recreational drugs.

    Fan Works 
  • Fall of Liberty: Algonquin quickly becomes this as the plague spreads, with twenty meter high concrete walls being erected on the bridges and around the edges of the island, whilst LCPD and NOOSE units protect all of the bridges and the city interior from undead attack. It doesn't work.
  • Incarnation of Legends: Every large city of note, including Orario, has a high wall around them to keep invaders like Rakia and the Empire out. The capital of Altena, Yggdrasil, has its wall made out of ice, with strange symbols etched into it. Despite this, Bell gets the feeling that it's as sturdy as any other nation's wall, almost beckoning invaders to try and breach it.
  • Lost Cities: Derecho, the Fortress City of the Clouds, was a floating fortress as much as it was a city, girded by a wall a thousand feet high and built primarily to keep watch over Equestria's northern borders.
  • Nobledark Imperium: Originally, Lorgar and the Word Bearers built Monarchia as a beautiful holy city of wide avenues, grand cathedrals and ornate debate halls, intending for it to be the living ideal of what civilized life could be. This design, however, left it difficult to defend, and the Taskmaster of Slaanesh was able to invade it, desecrate it and raze it and its planet to the ground as part of his effort to establish Slaanesh as the Imperium's devil figure. The Word Bearers rebuilt it as a fortified hive, designing it with an eye for defense, and when Arrotyr came along at the head of Khornate warhost to prove his god's superiority he had to work hard to take it, but he was able to raze it once more. The survivors, who were noteably more numerous this time around, rebuilt Monarchia to be even stronger, and the result is a fortified hive that is counted among the strongest foritifications in the Imperium.
  • Shingeki no Lesbian Horses: Twieren and her fellow ponies (and Spiarmin) live in this after Twieren raises Wall Sina, though the city is a smaller part of it. The interior of Wall Sina is mostly composed of rural areas.

    Film - Animated 
  • NIMONA (2023): The entire kingdom is surrounded by giant walls armed with laser cannons to defend against giant monsters. It is stated that nobody in the kingdom has ever gone outside the walls or even knows what is out there. After Nimona and the Director’s final clash, a huge chunk of wall is destroyed revealing a peaceful landscape beyond. In the aftermath, a park is built on top of the wall, the cannons are removed, and people begin traveling beyond the kingdom’s borders.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Mad Max: Fury Road has The Citadel which is under the cruel dictatorship of Immortan Joe. Once Imperator Furiosa kills Immortan Joe at the end of the movie, Furiosa becomes the leader.
  • Labyrinth features Goblin City in the center of the titular labyrinth.
  • Land of the Dead: The center of Pittsburgh has been turned into a fortress in the wake of the Zombie Apocalypse, being surrounded by water on three sides (which zombies are averse to) and an electrified fence on the only overland side. The city is later overrun when the zombies learn to walk across the river.

  • Belgariad by David Eddings, being set in a classic 'High Fantasy' world, has no shortage of equally-classic Castle Towns. Several of them, however, goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to being stupidly defensive:
    • The Citadel of the Algars is the only permanent structure in the Algarian grasslands - the Algars are otherwise nomadic. It's practically a man-made mountain which the Algars have been constructing nonstop for centuries - they have annual drag-boulders-to-the-Citadel competitions. Its sole purpose is to be a huge target for any invading army - there's basically nothing inside except for a huge labyrinth that anyone breaching the gate can get lost in while Algarian bowmen take potshots at them from atop the walls.
    • The City of Riva is located on a desolate, rocky island in the middle of the western sea. It covers the ONLY sizable cove where an army could land, with a huge wall. Inside, the city is build in tiers, and every house is part of he fortification - all the walls that are turned 'outwards' are built extra-sturdy and windowless, so in case of a wall-breach, every tier can become a new wall as the defenders gradually fall back to the Rivan Castle itself - which, of course, has some pretty imposing walls and defenses. The entire reason the city was built, on a previously-uninhabited island, was to protect the the Orb of Aldur. No army has ever so much as breached the outer walls... but the defenses have, on many occasions, proved less than formidable against trickery and infiltration.
  • CoDominium: The novels offer a couple of science fiction examples:
    • Falkenberg's Legion: The capital city of Harmony-Garrison. Originally settled by Christian farmers, the planet Arrarat was supposed to be a peaceful venture, so the city was not walled in. Then the Bureau of Corrections got involved, and began dumping convicts on the planet. To protect its interests, the CoDominium sent a Marines who fortified the city of Harmony, and made a fortress of Garrison attached to it.
    • King David's Spaceship: The city of Batav is a typical example of this, due to being on a low tech world. This is not without reason; due to local climate changes, barbarians migrated and besieged the city.
  • Daniel Black: A protagonist from our world is transported to a magic-based world which is undergoing the "Fimbulwinter" of Norse mythology — basically, it's going to be winter for thirty years. To help ensure the survival of humanity, he creates an Arcology with hundred-foot-thick solid granite walls (not a hundred feet high, a hundred feet thick) and which has its own internal power sources and agricultural systems.
  • During the Time of Troubles arc of the Deverry novels, the royal dun (castle) of the capital city of Dun Deverry has five sets of walls surrounding it. The utility of all those walls is questionable: By the time Cerrmor faction is able to fight its way to the capital and besiege the dun, the Cantrae faction has taken so many casualties that they have to give up two of the outer rings after no more than a token battle because they don't have the manpower to defend them anymore. And then a defector from the Cantrae faction reveals the location of the Secret Underground Passage leading out of the city from the fourth ring, which the defenders then use to sneak in.
  • Discworld:
    • Ankh-Morpork was once a walled city, but much like such cities in real life it eventually overran its borders, and the walls were picked apart over the years by citizens in need of building materials. The remains of this earlier wall are to be found at intervals inside the City, rendered redundant when it began to overspill from its original boundaries and thus necessitating a second wall to be built. The second set of walls and towers are more or less intact, although the castle and keep on the Tump which would have been the strategic lynchpin of the system have long since fallen into ruin. "Today" the city is again demonstrating why walls become redundant, as its seemingly unstoppable growth has created suburbs which stretch a long way outside the walls. There appear to be no plans to build an even longer and far more expensive third wall. Lord Vetinari abhors un-necessary effort and expense. On top of that, Ankh-Morpork actually has a unique way to deal with invaders, one that does not need walls: If a barbarian horde were to besiege the city, the citizens would welcome them with open arms, and before the barbarians would realize, they had become part of the city life. The first line of defense against invasion nowadays is a sign reading "Thank you for not invading our city. Have a nice day."
    • Zigzagged with Lancre Town. The capital “city” of the Kingdom of Lancre is established in Wyrd Sisters to have no walls, making the nightly locking of the gates pointless. However, it’s a very small town with a very large castle, and Lords and Ladies establishes that in a real emergency, the entire population can hide behind those walls.
  • Doctrine of Labyrinths: Damaging Mélusine's massive, 700-year-old walls qualifies as treason, which is odd, since they don't seem to serve much purpose beyond looking cool. Assaults are much likelier to come through magic than a physical invasion.
  • Dragonlance: The novels enjoy deconstructing this trope. After all, defenses such as stone walls are little good against attacks from the air, like those of dragons and flying citadels...
  • The Elric Saga: Imrryr the Dreaming City, capitol city of the fallen Melnibonean Empire, has been protected from invasion by an immense mind-boggling labyrinth and the Golden Barges of the Melnibonean navy. Imrryr only falls when its last emperor, Elric leads an invasion fleet through a hidden safe passage in the labyrinth.
  • Gor: Most city-states are built like this, with walls to keep out outsiders and gates to let people in.
  • I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew: The titular city is one of these. It's deconstructed, as well — a Key Slapping Slippard has taken residence in the keyhole of the only door leading in or out of the city, and slaps the doorman's key out of his hand every time he tries to open it, meaning the entire population of the city is trapped.
  • In Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, the city of Orario is protected by walls that tower over the thriving buildings inside. This is both to protect the city from invaders like Rakia, but also to protect the rest of the world should monsters escape from the Dungeon beneath Babel.
  • I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level: Due to a past war with humankind, the demons built their capital Vanzeld to be heavily fortified both inside and out, with a mazelike interior to give them an advantage in Urban Warfare and a massive central castle. Moreover, their entire country is enclosed in a vast wall. Then the two species forged a five hundred-year peace before the fighting reached those defenses, leaving it all a wasted effort.
  • John Carter of Mars
    • Barsoom: Fittingly for a planet named after the god of war, Martian cities are all fortresses; the relationship between most Red Martian nations at the best of times can fairly be described as "armistice", and the Green Martians would love nothing better than to sack any of them.
  • Legacy of the Aldenata: Major U.S. cities located in territory that was deemed indefensible against the Posleen invasion were turned into fortresses that would be able to hold out on their own while surrounded by Posleen armies. New York City was one example.
  • The Night Land and Awake in the Night Land: The Last Redoubt is a massive pyramid protecting humanity from unspeakable horrors that roam the darkened Earth. To ensure their safety, the Last Redoubt is surrounded by the "Air-Clog," an electric circle that creates an invisible barrier prohibiting any monsters from entering the Redoubt. This may be the first fully realized version of a force field in all of literature.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: The third novel has Armengar, which is a highly fortified city occupied by human settlers north of the kingdom, frequently attacked by goblins and moredhel (dark elves). The design is similar to that of Riva, with each building capable of acting as a fortified outpost on its own and every street designed so that defenders could ambush invaders every few hundred yards. As a last resort, the city is equipped with a Self-Destruct Mechanism to blow the entire place (invading army included), providing a distraction while the inhabitants escape through tunnels. Armengar's sister city Sar-Sargoth (Argmengar's original name was Sar-Isbandia), the moredhel capital, was presumably designed on a similar model, but that city was never attacked at any point in the series.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire features several examples:
    • King's Landing has large strong walls, a defensive fleet based on its harbor, and is utterly huge. There's also a massive castle, the Red Keep, situated at an elevated point in the city's center.
    • Lannisport is in a similar boat, though slightly smaller. Also the Lannister seat of Casterly Rock, which is located a mile north of the city and is basically a hollowed-out mountain and practically a small city unto its own.
    • Winterfell, officially just a castle, is one in all but name. The cluster of houses, workshops, markets, inns, and other buildings right outside the castle walls, the "wintertown", has a population of 15,000 (at least for half the year), with the castle itself adding another 1,000 or so (there are two hundred permanent guardsmen and presumably several times that number in other servants and retainers); combined this puts it around the low-end size of a real medieval European city. massive walls of grey granite[19] with a wide moat between them. The outer wall is eighty feet high, while the inner is one hundred feet high, with a wide moat between them. There are guard turrets on the outer wall and more than thirty watch turrets on the crenelated inner walls, defended by a full time household guard of two hundred men-at-arms, with the ability to quickly levy thousands of troops for defense from the outlying areas if need be. There are only two gates, one of which is a drawbridge opening directly to the market square of the wintertown. The city is also built on a natural set of hot springs, and the citadel/castle itself has greenhouses for growing food.
  • The Sword of Shannara had Tyrsis, the capital of Callahorn. The city had a heavy wall and thick gate plus was built into a mountain. On top of that you had the Border Legion of Callahorn guarding the city. Ultimately, the defenses are not breached through strength but by treachery. Spies within Tyrsis jam the locking mechanism to the city gates, allowing easy breaching by the vast army of the Warlock Lord. Only Shea destroying the Warlock Lord stopped the obliteration of the Border Legion and the conquest of Tyrsis.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Lord of the Rings: Minas Tirith is one of the key codifying examples: seven concentric tiers carved into a mountain, each with its own wall and gate. Unlike some, there's a clear justification for it; Sauron's forces are out there and the place was originally built as a military fortress, only becoming the capital city much later (after Osgiliath and Minas Ithil — now Minas Morgul — were overrun). Its current  name means "the Watchtower".
    • The Silmarillion has Gondolin, which as well as being a Hidden Elf Village is practically a Citadel Country. It's surrounded by impassable mountains with the only way through being a hidden ravine and tunnel, barred by seven gatesnote  each with its own company of full-time guards. Passing those gets you into the valley; the city itself sits on a hill in the middle of that and has walls and defences of its own.
  • The Tough Guide To Fantasy Land: Some cities are remarkably well-defended, ringed about with high, thick walls and by gates of masterfully worked metal. They usually find themselves under siege about as soon as the Tour enters them.
  • The Wheel of Time has many fortified cities, due to being a mostly medieval setting where walls are still effective defensive measures, though this changes as the books progress, thanks to both magical and technological advances.
    • Most notable is Tar Valon, which is triply defended by being built on an island in the middle of a large river, surrounded by Power-wrought walls, and home to the White Tower of the Aes Sedai Mage Species and their Super-Soldier Mindlink Mates. It's well known to have never been successfully besieged — though this is an Internal Retcon quite insistently maintained by the Aes Sedai, who prefer that people not know that an army once made it as far as the Tower grounds. However, by the time a siege actually becomes relevant in the latter few books, the advent of traveling has become so widespread that its walls are useless.
    • Also of note is the Stone of Tear, a partial example in that it is technically an addendum to a city (though perfectly capable of acting like one at need), but goes all-out on the citadel aspect. It's often described as an artificial mountain, and is also protected by a prophecy which states it cannot fall until a sword hidden deep within is retrieved by a certain person who would be in charge of the capturing army. This seems to be a Catch-22 Dilemma, as the army would be unable to succeed unless they had already done so. The answer is that the leader independently sneaks in just before the army attacks.
  • The Worm Ouroboros, E. R. Eddison's classic, has Carce: the heavily fortified capital of Witchland, wich is described both as a citadel and a city.
  • In Wrong Time for Dragons, three of the four Elemental Clan capitals are protected by walls. The Air Clan's fortress is located atop a mountain peak called the Fang of the Four Winds and is surrounded by stone walls, the only city in this world with them. The other two walled cities (the Water Clan's capital of Hundred Fields and the Earth Clan's capital of Feros) use wood. Averted with the Fire Clan's capital of Oros, which is located underground and has no defensive fortification. Why? Because any attacked would first have to go through the Fire Clan's battle mages, which are the best of all the Elemental Clans, especially on their home turf (the air is so hot and dry that it robs the Air and Water Clan mages of much of their power). To a lesser degree, the "capital" of the Cat Clan is a castle in the woods surrounded by a living wall of thick trees.
  • The X-Wing Series establishes that Coruscant, the galaxy's capital in Star Wars, is quite thoroughly defended, with a powerful defense fleet and a double-layered planetary deflector shield grid. A major part of Wedge's Gamble is the Rogues' effort to disable the shields long enough for the New Republic to invade.
  • Xenos: any city to some extent, depending on the paranoia level of the rulers.
    • Belgor, founded to house the Hunters and stand against the Blight.
    • The harbor of Baros, justified as the single available landing point on the entire island. The island itself is described as a natural fortress, and the Properly Paranoid ruler Kriy has done everything to fortify that single weak point.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, Gallifrey's two greatest cities: Capitol (sometimes called Citadel) and Arcadia were protected by hundreds of sky trenches. Prior to the end of the Last Great Time War, nothing has been able to breach even two sky trenches. Then a large Dalek force manages to break through all 400 sky trenches over Arcadia and ravages the city. On the other hand, despite having fewer sky trenches, the Capitol's defenses are never breached.
  • The City of Atlantis from Stargate Atlantis might count, due to its shield which was powerful enough to resist bombardment from the Wraith for years and then protect it against the pressure of the ocean for 10,000 more years once the Ancients decided to sink the city. Plus, at its height, it had satellites and drone weapons to provide more defensive capabilities. Finally, when the Atlantis Expedition arrived, they reinforced the defences with railguns.

    Tabletop Games 
  • CthulhuTech: Most major cities have been converted into hardened, self-contained Mega City structures, and living outside one is a very bad idea.
  • Forgotten Realms: The setting has most of the cities set up like this. Phlan is the most prominent example in the novels, falling under attack several times, but holding them off each time.
  • Iron Kingdoms: Caspia the capital of Cygnar has so many walls its called the "City of Walls"
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • On Shadowmoor, the insanely paranoid Kithkin build all of their settlements to be highly fortified and defensible — although their paranoia is at least partly justified, as Shadowmoor is home to some very nasty creatures.
    • This is a common feature of Abzan settlements on Tarkir. In the present, the walls are the main defences; in the distant past of Fate Reforged, they mount ballistae on top to deal with marauding dragons; and in the alternate present created by Sarkhan's meddling, they've been taken over by the Dromoka dragon brood and the ballista platforms have been turned into landing pads.
  • Obsidian: Age of Judgement: The Zone is a massive fortified cityscape 1,280 stories high and 22 miles long and the last major habitat for humanity in North America after a massive demonic invasion. The Zone isn't just big, almost every metre of it is studded with massive artillery cannons in ball turrets that fire thermobaric shells and the Zone can unleash hordes of battle vehicles and bionic soldiers to counter-attack anything Hell can throw, including mountain-sized demons known as Roamers.
  • Red Hand of Doom: Brindol fits this trope. Having big walls and a standing army, the Battle of Brindol takes place here as the heroes, the Lions of Brindol and any allies gathered along the way fight the Red Hand of Doom during part four.
  • Rocket Age: The Martian city of Kolpith was an unassailable city for many centuries. It fell the moment the French brought modern military technology to bare on its walls however.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • The Imperium has several Citadel Planets ("Fortress Worlds"). One of them is Cadia, which is located near the only stable passage to the Eye of Terror from which the Legions of Hell regularly emerge. Nearly three quarters of the population serve in the military, Child Soldiers are taught to use a gun before they learn to read, and is protected by its own fleet of spaceships. This being 40K, it still wasn't enough to prevent the invading forces of Chaos from destroying it at the end of the "Fall of Cadia" campaign.
    • Each Space Marine chapter has a "fortress monastery" as its HQ. Each is basically a self-sufficient city complete with living quarters, workshops, temples, spaceport etc.
    • Every Imperial space ship in the universe basically fits this description, with a crew size of at the lowest end 20,000 men, they have the population of a small to large city, defenses capable of dealing with both the threats of warp travel and capable of defending against the ridiculous firepower of anything in the same category with it for at least a short amount of time.
    • The Eldar Craftworld Ulthwé is a massive world-ship with a population in the billions trapped orbiting the Eye of Terror, the same warp storm which is so dangerous it requires a planet like Cadia to act as a Beef Gate for the rest of real space. It's built to withstand constant attacks and has done so for millennia, and almost all of its population has some degree of martial training.
    • Gaunt's Ghosts:
      • In Necropolis, the city of Vervunhive is a formidable example. The "curtain wall" surrounding it is nearly a hundred meters tall and boasts colossal siege cannon as well as anti-air missiles, gun emplacements, and large garrisons. There are only a handful of gated entry points, each with its own highly reinforced guard houses. Topping it all off (literally) is a huge shield generator that can protect the entire interior space from artillery fire virtually indefinitely. Unfortunately, the city's substantial suburbs (as much as half of its population either lives or works outside the walls) are not protected at all aside from a handful of bunkers, its design serves to prevent the defenders from launching counter-attacks with any real effectiveness, and cooping a few tens of millions of humans up together leads to panic and near rioting. In the end, the final Chaos assault destroys almost all of the fortifications before being repelled by, ironically, a counter-attack that the defenders never would have countenanced were their walls still standing.
      • Their rival, Ferrozoica Hive, is implied to be equally impressively defended (both sets of defensive works date to a "Trade War" the two hives fought around a century before) — which is why, when they arrive, the Imperial fleet just lances it from orbit.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar:
    • Almost all cities are heavily defended with fortifications due to the massive free for all conflict going between(and within) the Grand Alliances and also the wild life and other magical situations in the Mortal Realms.
    • The Cities of Sigmar faction is entirely based on the trope. Each City of Sigmar is massive a city and almost all have massive walls usually reinforced magic. These walls contain cannons, lasers, magical weather control machines, magical forcefields and many cities add moats of magical water, liquid metal, or lava to the list of defences. There is also the Thanator's Manse, which is literally an oversized castle.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle: Most important cities have walls and other systems of defense due to the Forever War nature of the setting.
    • Praag in particular has walls tall enough to serve as a Worf Effect of sorts by serving as a reference point for Kholek Sun-Eater's size (a dragon-ogre big enough to look over the walls).
    • The Tilean city of Verezzo is built on the only high ground in an area of flat land and surrounded by a system of very strong walls and bastions. The Verezzans are very reluctant to expand the borders of their cities, as this would mean weakening the strength of the fortifications by extending piecemeal into the plains, and as a result the city is filled with very narrow streets and very tall houses, some of which have become so high that they've become additional towers and have been incorporated into the defenses.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: The city of Alhambra is described as being constantly under siege, because it's been hidden for millenia within a bubble inside the Dark World.


  • BIONICLE has Ta-Koro, basically a walled city inside a volcano with a sea of lava protecting it. In an unfortunate ironic twist, Ta-Koro's final end at the hands of the Rahkshi would see the city's ruins sinking into that very lava, obliterating any trace of its existence. Though less impressive, Po-Koro is also heavily defended, being built inside a massive hollowed out mesa with only one entrance.

    Video Games 
  • All the remaining cities in Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault are basically these, as they'd be torn apart by the Protonovus otherwise. Part of the challenge is putting together an effective Citadel City that can weather the various types of Protonovus that appear.
  • In Age of Empires II, the AI will eventually attempt to set something like this up in longer games. However, Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors means there are a number of tricks to break through. (Assuming the AI doesn't make a mistake while building the walls.)
  • In Anthem (2019), Fort Tarsis fits this trope.
  • Crash Team Racing is the Trope Namer, and one of the Hub Levels of resembles a fortified medieval village.
  • Destiny: The Last City underneath the Traveler, which is encircled by walls several times higher than the tallest buildings inside them (and they aren’t short buildings) and defended by Guardians with guns and physics-defying magic. It’s been attacked directly at least three times and been conquered once, but that didn’t last.
  • Elden Ring gives us the city of Leyndell, capital of the Lands Between prior to the divine civil war known as the Shattering. A massive, imposing, and opulent city surrounded on all sides by extremely high walls and located on top of a difficult to access plateau, Leyndell was besieged at least twice during the past but never once fell owing to how absurdly defensible and fortified it is. Its walls have been breached only one time in its entire history, when one of the largest dragons to ever live attacked the city, but he too was killed and his petrified corpse is still a major landmark in the city by the time the player gets there. The outskirts of Leyndell are a ruined battlefield littered with craters and wrecked siege equipment, while every inch of the interior is patrolled by Elite Mooks and minibosses ready to ruin the player's day.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Oblivion's cities are entirely surrounded by walls. There is a gameplay reason for this, however, as for the first time in the series, cities are separate cells from the surrounding game-world. These cities must entered via a door or gate. This obviously means that the game-designers have to design those cities so that you can only enter and leave them via the door(s), which is most easily done via this trope.
    • Skyrim carries of the tradition of walled cities from Oblivion. Not all the walls are in top condition — Whiterun's outer defenses are crumbling and neglected — but if you get involved in the civil war that's gripped the province, you'll find yourself testing multiple cities' defenses.
  • Empire Earth II: The AI always builds turns its initial settlement into one, but rarely thinks to fortify other locations. As walls evolve with Technology Levels, building them remains a viable tactic even once aircraft are available.
  • Most cities in the Exile series had a similar design for similar reasons (though there were plenty of exceptions). In later Avernum games, when engine changes meant there was no longer an overworld/city map divide, this was restricted to only cities of military importance.
  • In Final Fantasy XV Insomnia, the capital city of Lucis, has a wall called "The Wall" powered by magic from the king. The building the king lives in is also called the Citadel.
  • The Fire Emblem games have many minor villages that tend to be walled. If the player finds one in their map, they can send a member of the army to check on it and tell them to close their gates, receiving items as thanks and occasionally recruiting new cast members.
  • Halo: Reach: Reach itself, being the main military stronghold of the UNSC. It's heavily guarded by a fleet of 100-150 warships at any given time, twenty orbital defense platforms (each capable of destroying a Covenant ship with one shot), a nuclear minefield, and enormous quantities of soldiers. Then the Covenant show up with an even larger invasion force.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic V features this on many of the fully-upgraded towns. Of note, Haven has a large wall protecting the inner city and an equally impressive one far on the outskirts protecting the farmland while Fortress gets a fairly silly-looking wall protecting the outside of the city (which is already built on the interior of a volcano).
  • Jak and Daxter series:
    • Haven City is the last known human holdout on the entire planet during Jak II: Renegade. It's a essentially a self-sufficient fortress, surrounded by thick walls and an eco-powered energy shield that protects the city from the Metal Heads, in addition to constant patrols by the city's defense force, the Krimzon Guard. It's essentially impenetrable, and because crops and livestock are produced inside the walls, it can withstand a siege of any duration (and has, in fact, done so for centuries now). The only weak point is the fact that the city, and by extension the shield wall, is powered by eco, which is obtained from mines outside the city that the Metal Heads actually can attack. A looming eco shortage is a frequent concern raised during the game, as without the shield wall the city stands no chance against the Metal Heads.
    • Spargus in the sequel is another example. City of outcasts near desert, from which it is separated by giant gate (which you actually defend from The Marauders at one point) and walls on massive rock. The only unwalled section is the lagoon, which is instead covered by giant cannon that is used by Wastelanders for target practice for biggest high score to keep them trained with it. Unlike Haven City it is not self-sufficient, but Wastelanders have an entire garage of buggies they use for desert scavenging missions.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, after Maleficent is slain, Hollow Bastion (later regaining its original name Radiant Garden in Kingdom Hearts II) ends up replacing Traverse Town as the recurring hub world in which Sora, Donald and Goofy reconvene with their allies. While not exactly surrounded by literal walls, this world is populated mainly by the Final Fantasy cast and few other refugees who are more than willing to fight any threat that endangers their home and the people living there, Cid and Merlin installing an Anti-Heartless security system as extra security. Unfortunately, because this world contains knowledge collected by Ansem the Wise about the nature of the cosmos, possess enhanced Magitek, is ground-zero for the Heartless threat that kicked off the story and because many of the antagonists possess a personal affinity for the location (most of Organization XIII are from here, Maleficent used it as her main base when she rose to power, etc), this world is constantly a target, most notably with the Battle of 1000 Heartless.
  • Mass Effect features The Citadel, an ancient space station that serves as the galaxy's capital. In addition to an ever-present defense fleet it can close its arms when attacked and render itself inaccessible. And now the subversion: because it's so defensible, the Citadel makes perfect bait for advanced civilizations and allows the Reapers to decapitate the galaxy's leadership in one fell swoop during their 50,000 year harvesting cycle.
  • Rimworld: Every player-built settlement eventually turns into one of these to some extent to defend against the repeated invasions by bandits and Space Pirates. In earlier versions it was possible to exploit the enemy AI by leaving a single gap in the walls and luring them into a huge ambush, but more recent updates have made them aware of the ranges and firing arcs of fixed turrets and added sappers who can tunnel through walls.
  • Sonic Unleashed has Savannah Citadel. There is a huge, thick wall around the place, but the doors in are usually open as the inhabitants are peaceful and friendly to Sonic. Just not Dr. Eggman.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Kaas City on Dromund Kaas. The houses the Sith Citadel, is surrounded by numerous fortified walls of its own, and has a highly militaristic "peacekeeping" force on the inside.
  • Stellaris lets you go the "planetary citadel" route if you build a lot of Strongholds or Fortresses on your worlds. Indeed, this is a great way to take advantage of a chokepoint in the galaxy's Hyperspace Lanes - the FTL Inhibitors technology means that hostile fleets won't be able to move past a system with at least one active planetary Fortress, so building multiple Fortresses on a planet, combined with a Planetary Shield Generator, means that an invading enemy will have to commit to a long planetary bombardment or grueling invasion to neutralize your fortress world and move deeper into your space.
    • A later update allows you to apply a designation to planets, with one being "fortress world". With this the aforementioned Fortress build quicker, the whole world takes less damage from bombardments and defensive armies are much stronger, which makes these planets an absolute nightmare to try and fight past. Just to rub salt in the wound you can create an artificial habitat in any system in your empire with a celestial body and give it this designation, allowing you to lock-down hyperlanes at will, rather then hoping the game generates planets in good positions.
  • The Stronghold series of games easily lets you build a somewhat realistic version of this. The AI is not so good at doing the same, unless it's the Wolf.
  • Midgard in Tales of Phantasia is an entirely walled city where not only soldiers patrol the walls on the lookout of Dhaos' demon army, there's a fortress with a mana cannon in case of aerial forces.
  • They Are Billions is a Real-Time Strategy game were your goal is to build a Steampunk version of a Citadel City to defend against massive hordes of the undead.
  • Many Total War games feature walled cities that must be protected from invasion. Games in the series that feature more modern settings (Empire, Napoleon, Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai) tend to avert this, however, with castles and forts being besieged instead of cities (which are usually seen in the background shots). Most prominently featured in Rome and Medieval games. Successfully attacking walled cities there either required spending a number of turns besieging it (until supplies run out and the defenders give up) or storming it, which usually means the attackers have siege devices such as battering rams, ladders, siege towers, catapults, ballistae, trebuchets, mortars, and/or cannons. In Empire, Napoleon, and Shogun 2, infantry units don't need any such devices and can climb walls on their own.
  • The Human Village in Touhou Project is basically the humans' stronghold in Gensokyo, and houses enough youkai exterminators to make it ill-advised for rogue youkai to even so much as bother any human in the village. And just in case things start going bad, there is a second line of defense in the village's appointed protector (and schoolteacher) Keine Kamishirasawa, who can outright temporarily hide the entire village's existence (and does so in Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night).
  • World of Warcraft has both Stormwind and Orgrimmar, both of which are walled up and heavily fortified. (Not that it did much good for either one when it came to stopping Deathwing...) Stormwind is a traditional medieval castle-style citadel, while Orgrimmar is amongst a mountain range with only a few walls built between them.
    • Not to mention Ironforge (carved into a mountain with gates that could, and did, hold off the entire Horde) Thunder Bluff (built on top of a collection of mesas), Undercity (built underneath the ruins of Lordaeron, and only accessible through a maze of tunnels), Darnasus (built inside a hollow tree stump larger than most mountains), and The Exodar (a crashed and largely buried spaceship).
    • The climactic raid of Mists of Pandaria was the Siege of Orgrimmar, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. In the end, a small strike team (to whit, the players) is put together to systematically weaken the defenses, because otherwise, the attackers have no real chance of success, only a bloody stalemate.

    Web Comics 
  • In Baskets of Guts Ancard is built on a mountain, and the walls enclose the entire city. It is also a quarter for a large military garrison.
  • Crimson Knights has Frothwater, being located on an island in the middle of a river and protected by large walls.
  • Girl Genius has the walled town of Mechanicsburg repelling invasions as the traditional town sport.
  • The Order of the Stick has Azure City, heavily fortified by an order of paladins and an army of guards. Despite the aid of the Order, the city falls to Xykon and Redcloak's hobgoblin armies.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Many of the remaining safe settlements are walled cities due to being surrounded by Plague Zombie territory.

    Web Original 
  • Critical Role: Vasselheim, the ancient city of faith, is extremely well fortified. In the Chroma Conclave arc it's noted as being one of the only places in the world with a chance of defending against an Ancient Dragon attack without the heroes' assistance.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, several cities are well-fortified to withstand assaults. The most notable ones are Vanna, Maar Sul City and Myridia.
  • In The Solstice War, the eponymous city of Solstice, capital of Ayvarta. It has fifty meter high walls surrounding it on all sides, lies in the middle of a desert, straddling a river. In addition to standard military units, the city has three gigantic cannons known as Prajnas that can level whole streets.
  • World Of Omni: Talmain has high, solid stone walls and only one entrance. There's even two higher tiers (with the imperial palace at the top) with equally sheer sides - and again, only one way to get up each level. The impracticality of this layout, given the considerable jogging distance between each tier threshold, is only acknowledged in passing.

    Western Animation 
  • Ba Sing Se from Avatar: The Last Airbender has a series of four walls. An outer wall to protect the farmland, an inner wall to protect the city itself, and two more inner walls to divide the urban areas by class. The usual logistical barriers to building and maintaining enormous stone curtain-walls around the entire agricultural basin for a large city are justified by the Earthbenders' Elemental Powers.
  • In Bravestarr, Fort Kerium can convert into "fortress mode" when necessary.
  • Hilda: The city of Trolberg is surrounded by a huge wall, meant to keep Trolls and other dangerous creatures out. The wall has multiple bell towers build into it's structure for this purpose as well.
  • In The Transformers: The Movie, Autobot City transforms into one when the Decepticons launch a surprise attack on it. Unfortunately, due to having the element of surprise the Decepticons successfully trap and/or kill a number of Autobots before the conversion is even complete. The defenses hold long enough for the survivors to receive reinforcements.

    Real Life 
  • Most medieval and ancient cities actually did have walls with a limited number of gates, and strict rules against building outside the walls. This served an economic interest: tolls on goods brought into or out of the city was a major revenue stream in medieval times. However, the city guards were more likely to be few in number and often part-timers. And siege preparation in supplies was probably only done when necessary. Most of these cities no longer have such fortifications; although some still do.
  • With the advent of improved gunpowder, new star fort fortifications, designed to limit the power of cannons and the effect of sappers replaced the old style of walled fortification for many cities. Palmanova, a town in Italy, is regarded as one of the first examples of star fort walls being used, and the fortifications still exist there today.
    • Less to limit the power of cannons as to exploit them for defensive purposes, although in a sense it comes to the same thing. The basic idea is to extend structures from the wall that can give each other covering fire and fire upon any advance toward the curtain wall in a diagonal crossfire on the corners of the advancing force(thus confusing the enemy as to where the shot is coming from as well as scoring more One Hit Polykills if the attackers are arrayed in line. And of course simply to get more places to stuff with cannon.
  • Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. It boasted a triple wall as well as a chain boom that protected its harbor. Many tried and failed to capture the city, even Attila the Hun.note  Yet, Sultan Mehmet II succeeded with a different approach in 1453... with a powerful cannon designed to destroy said walls in addition to people in the inside who opened a side gate for him.
    • In almost all cases where the city's defenses failed its major weak point was the city's harbor and the walls facing towards the sea, which were by far the shortest and easily overrun.
  • Cities deep inside the Roman and Chinese empires were often unfortified during the height of their power, it being assumed that The Empire was protecting them so well that the only reason to fortify would be as part of a plan for rebellion.
    • Ancient Sparta was another notable aversion. Sparta had no walls — because any invader had to pass through Spartans first.
    • Japan was another aversion, since foreign invasions were all but unknown. The first Japanese cities, Nara and Kyoto, were modeled on China's walled capital city Chang'an, but their planned outer walls were never built.
  • During the Three Kingdoms era of China (the setting for Romance of the Three Kingdoms), several walled cities saw a lot of action. Hefei, for example, was the site of repeated assaults by Sun Quan, to the point the place became a sort of Eldritch Location for the people of Wu.
  • The old historic city of Seoul was surrounded with castle walls, and four of the main gates were fortified. However these walls didn't protect the city from falling under the battle hardened troops of Japan during the Japanese invasions of Korea through 1592 to 98, who also ransacked the fortified city of Busan beforehand. The walls failed the Kingdom of Joseon yet again after decades later the Manchu invasions of Korea happened.
    • After these failures, King Jeongjo constructed the Suwon Fortress, a fortified city that used a lot of techniques deemed innovative at that time. However the city was never invaded.
    • Modern Seoul also qualifies. Key skyscrapers in Seoul have anti-air weapons installed on the rooftops, and Seoul's northern suburbs have anti-tank obstacles installed on major roads leading to the city center.
  • Cities along the Low Countries tended to be some of the most fortified in history as that was one of the nastiest battlegrounds in Europe. Sometimes rather than a city fortifying itself, a city grew up around a fortification that was already there.
  • Soviet and modern era Moscow. It's currently the only city in the world with ground-based anti-missile defence emplacements. note  The Moscow Metro is also deep underground enough to provide shelter from a nuke for the citizens, and has a number of government bunkers and installations even deeper underground.
  • Quebec City and Louisburg are two found in North America.
  • Typical European examples of this are often a mixture of styles from several ages. Strategy changes less than tactics (Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Guderian had to think about the same rivers and mountains) so fortifications will be in the same place because of the same considerations. For instance many European cities are a jumble of Medieval style (high stone walls) and eighteenth century (lower and thicker with bastions sticking out to hold gun emplacements where they can catch assault troops from the flank making the famous "star" shape). American coastal forts including Fort McHenry of national anthem fame, are "pure" star forts because they were built from scratch rather than being built in the place of a castle or fortified city whose budget did not include tearing down the old walls before replacing them. Because of that American coastal forts are prized by military archeologists.
  • Many cities in England are descended from fortifications made to defend against Vikings. A clue is the name "burg" in a city as "burg" is "Castle" in Anglo-Saxon and several other germanic languages.
  • Carlisle on the Anglo-Scottish border. Yes, it got an awful lot of work.
  • Fortress design used to be considered at the top of intellectual discipline. Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo da Vinci were famous in their time for their fortresses, and latter play-fortification was a common hobby of the rich. In Italy and elsewhere there were entire dynasties of fortress designers.
  • In France, King Louis XIV's Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban remains the most historically famous and prolific designer of citadels.
  • During the US Civil War, Washington, D.C. was essentially transformed into this as the conflict progressed. Although it was on the border between a loyal border state (Maryland) and a Confederate state (Virginia), the Union capital was essentially protected from both land and sea assaults after the Union Army established a multitude of forts, field artillery, trench networks, and garrisons in and around the city. Barring one exception, it was one of the safest cities and most heavily defended cities that existed during that time.
  • While Washington DC may have been the fortress city of the Civil War, nearby Baltimore has probably the best claim to the Fortress City of the United States. The U.S. National Anthem is about the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812, and how the flag over Fort McHenry was still defiantly waving over the fort the morning following a night of shelling by British warships. During the Civil War, the forts' cannons were actually turned on the city, which had southern sympathies, to which the citizens of Baltimore got the message and never tried anything against the Union.
  • Intramuros, the original colonial capital of the Philippines and modelled largely on the Spanish Empire's other colonial capitals in Latin America, was built towards the end of the 16th century by the Spanish colonizers to defend itself from invasions, though it was heavily damaged during the Battle of Manila during the last months of World War II. The walls and defenses were (partially) repaired in 1951 and lasted through the 80s. Nowadays, the side facing Manila Bay hosts the Manila Cathedral, Palacio del Gobernador (headquarters for the Commission on Elections), and Ayuntamiento de Manila (hosts the treasury bureau), while the one facing the city hall plays host to a number of colleges.
  • In Classical Greece, polises like Corinth and Megara, built huge walls, called "Long Walls" that connected them to other cities. The most famous of these was Athen's, with connected Athens to its Port Towns of Piraeus and Phalerum during the Peloponnesian and Corinthian War to withstand the sieges. During the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, the walls withstood Spartan assault but allowed for a plague one of the trading ships picked up to spread through the city. One of the peace conditions imposed on the Athenians at the end of the war called for the demolition of the Long Walls.
  • Modern military bases are often cities unto themselves, complete with shopping malls, gas stations, schools, apartment buildings and houses, etc., and miles of fences and walls and barbed wire with armed guards patrolling and controlling access. Due to the highly mobile nature of modern warfare, they rarely resemble the walled fortresses of old, however.
    • This applies primarily to permanent bases, located on a nation's own soil or its allies'. On the offensive, units establish "Forward Operating Bases" which are considerable more spartan. (And much more defensible — the average military base is more concerned with infiltration in peacetime than assault.)