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"Behold!" Oscagne intoned quite formally. "Behold the seat of beauty and truth! Behold the home of wisdom and power! Behold fire-domed Matherion, the centre of the world!"

No matter what age it's built in (bronze, middle, modern or crystal) the Shining City is awesome, perhaps the best city to live in anywhere on the world. The Shining City is usually purpose-built from the word "Go", not a disorderly Mega City that grew out of a settlement over hundreds of years. From the air, neat geometric patterns will be visible (not just grids, but circles, triangles, or fantastic symbols that create powerful Geometric Magic — see Mystical City Planning), and on the ground each and every building integrates seamlessly into a greater overall style. Above all, the Shining City is bright. On approach, expect it to be shown with lots and lots of artful shafts of sunlight that gleam off the simple yet elegant white buildings; at night it will shine like a neon angel. It will have lots of soaring towers, and citizens of the Shining City never suffer from acrophobia.

The Shining City is usually the capital to The Federation, has the headquarters of Heroes Unlimited, or is home to the heroes' favorite Reasonable Authority Figure. Because of its size it likely won't have the kooky and cozy feel of a small town, or the gentle pace of the countryside, but the inhabitants will at least be polite if not friendly, full of energy, and usually pursuing activities "of high culture and art". If that sounds a bit snobby, then you've guessed right, the inhabitants (and often times the rulers) of the Shining City are culturally arrogant and perhaps unhealthily insular.

Thematically, it will serve as an urban beacon of hope for what mankind can build when it works together. And for these reasons it tends to make viewers feel at home there and players feel protective. However, for those who have a more cynical view of humanity, it can degenerate into a Soiled City on a Hill.

In its idealistic form, it's a trope that has days of much greater popularity; just as Arcadia rises in popularity the more people live in cities, the Shining City hits its peaks when more people live in the countryside.

Not surprisingly, the bad guys want to destroy or conquer it. Reasons can be simple ambition or Slobs Versus Snobs brand jealousy, this one is common when the bad guys operate out of the Shining City's antithesis, the City Noir. Depending on the story, it may survive intact, get random but repairable property damage, or be doomed to burn like Troy. For extra fun, the bad guys' forces will be represented as an evil dark cloud on the horizon, threatening to both literally and figuratively darken the Shining City. Boiled down to basics, it's the urban equivalent of having a villain say "I Have You Now, My Pretty!" to a city.

Its Shadowland is prone to be a dark forest or other, even more inhospitable wilderness, but can also be the countryside as a place of ignorance, insularity, and sloth. Frequently the rest of the world is Crapsack Only by Comparison.

When a city is "shining" in a literal sense but not necessarily a metaphorical one, see Neon City. If the Shining City used to be a Wretched Hive, then it is a Heel–Face Town.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Falconia from Berserk is the most perfect city in the world, and a beacon of hope to those who wish for safety and a better life. Just looking at its towering white walls, you know it was created by magic rather than by mortal hands, and it has every possible public good: the city and the surrounding countryside are protected from monsters and invading armies; every refugee who goes there is guaranteed housing and employment; the whole city is rationally planned, with traffic control and plumbing included; there are bustling markets and public bathhouses; and finally it's all run by a charismatic leader who appears to be the messiah. On the other hand, that leader is secretly a demon lord whose activities drew out the monsters they're escaping from in the first place. Meanwhile, he can barely rein in the Blood Lust of his demonic army, so who knows if Falconia's inhabitants will be safe for long.
  • Doraemon portrays Tokyo and other metropolis in the world being this way in the future. Calculating from the age of the daddy Nobita, it should have been within the 2000s...
  • Played with in Fullmetal Alchemist. Central City is the capital and seat of power of Amestris where most of the important government buildings are located. Central is often seen from a bird's eye view while lit up, and in the final opening it is seen with searchlights, making it appear as though it is shining. When viewed from above, the streets make up the shape of a transmutation circle. However, despite Amestris being important for the protagonists, it is also the base of operations for the homunculi who were secretly in control of the government from the get-go. So, at the series end, it's actually the villains trying to prevent Mustang and his team from taking it over rather than the other way around.
  • In Saint Beast, Zeus' shrine has a white-and-gold neo-classical aesthetic and sits on top of a giant plateau which is only accessible by an extremely long, steep staircase, setting it off from the surrounding scenery.
  • In Slayers, the city of Seiran is a huge pentagram city layout.

    Comic Books 
  • Asgard in Marvel Comics' The Mighty Thor if often referred to as the Shining City or Golden Realm. This is usually accompanied by a number of grandiose claims like being the jewel of the nine worlds. Artistic portrayals usually have it be a city that is or looks like it is made of gold or a glowing, highly advanced city.
  • Metropolis in Superman is frequently portrayed like this, especially in contrast to the Wretched Hive City Noir that Batman lives in. Ironically, while Superman has a lot to do with the average Metropolitan's attitude, what makes it look like a Shining City is Lexcorp's advanced technology.

  • Child of the Storm has the classic example of Asgard's citadel, with the implication of many more such cities. And then there was Krypton, which was similarly advanced (i.e. well into Crystal Spires and Togas territory).
    • Atlantis was once like this. Before it meddled with the Darkhold and imploded.
  • The Elysium version of the Smurf Village that appears in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfing In Heaven" is a village made entirely of gold. Unfortunately, Empath discovers that this is a magical illusion created by Ares the god of war.
  • The Good Hunter: Lescatie is described as the jewel of The Order, where many veteran heroes are trained and dwelt, a place of culture and refinement. The "snobby" aspect is certainly there with the nobility and the clergy being in full control of how the city is ruled, living in the dazzling noble estates.
  • Vathvael, the capital of Dorwinion in Heart of Ashes, is made of smooth alabaster stone, and the great show of craftsmanship that would be applied to cathedrals extends even to the poorer areas.
  • The opening lines of Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space
    It was ironic that the greatest threat ever faced by humanity began as just an average day in the year 2009. The young couple had parked their flying car outside the automat, which offered a breathtaking view of the gleaming white city stretching to the horizon like a vast laundromat. Hyperboloid towers pulsated with powerful atomic energies, zeppelins moored with chrome spires that pierced the clouds; a brobdingnagian ziggurat challenged the gods to ban the universal translator.

    Films — Animated 
  • Syracuse in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas; filled with gleaming white, red domed buildings and spires, built upon and among impossibly high Ghibli Hills, which are all connected by elegant walkways. There is even an elevated canal for ships, linking the seas with the Royal Palace. Its a shame that we only see it for a few minutes of the movie though.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Aeon Legion: Labyrinth: Saturn City. This powerful city state floats in the Edge of Time and serves as the Aeon Legion's primary base. Saturn City citizens enjoy eternal youth and basically have all the time they want to dedicate to partying. Given the silvery white metal architecture, it is also a literal example of this trope as well.
  • Amber: The titular city in Roger Zelazny's series is The City; all cities everywhere are supposedly imperfect shadows of it. It's pretty nice in its own right, but Tir na Nog is one of the two shadows that's visible from Amber itself (the other is Rebma, at the bottom of the sea); it's a shining spectral city in the sky which, in the moonlight, is just tangible enough to visit without falling through the floor. Just have someone standing by to get you out quick in case clouds come up.
  • Brandon Sanderson seems to be fond of this trope, just as he is fond of using the City of Adventure trope in general.
    • The eponymous city of Elantris is literally a shining city. Even its inhabitants shine. Of course, due to a few complications, it serves as more of a zombified Advanced Ancient Acropolis through the course of the story.
    • In The Stormlight Archive, Urithiru was this in the past, at the height of the power of the Knights Radiant. It was a city constructed in the mountains of Roshar, connected by several "Oathgates" (read, portals) to the capitals of the ten nations of the world, and this made it the de facto capital of the world, despite the ten nations being sovereign states. Commerce, culture, and politics centered around the city at its peak. By the time the series rolls around, the city has been abandoned for centuries. A large part of the second book centers around finding the city, and a large part of the third centers around restoring its functionality.
  • Codex Alera: The capital city, Alera, for which the country is named. Actually all the great cities are described in these terms, Kalare is noted as a partial exception.
    • By contrast, in the Conqueror books by the same author, both Yenking and Otrar are described in terms normally applicable to this trope; however, since the protagonist of these books is Genghis Khan, the readers follow those attempting to destroy them.
  • David Eddings:
    • In The Belgariad, there's the city of Kell; the prequels to The Belgariad describe beautiful Vo Wacune, which doubled as a Doomed Hometown for Polgara. In the same country is the capital of Arendia, Vo Mimbre, whose walls are sheathed in gold. Mandorallen gives a speech about it similar to the page quote, calling it the "Queen of the World".
    • The Tamuli has "Fire-domed Matherion", the capital of a continent-wide empire. Matherion is an exaggeration to the point of parody: the entire city is sheathed in mother-of-pearl, giving it a breathtaking iridescent gleam. But the cost of the shells is such that the empire goes into a mild recession every time a storm hits the city.
  • Discworld: Ankh-Morpork is a very deliberate subversion of the thousands-of-years-old Shining City. It's been around for thousands of years, sure. It has citadels and towers and walls and palaces. But it shows its age and more importantly the lack of good flush plumbing and sewers, something Tolkien paid little attention to. The river is an open sewer that walks rather than flows, the streets are paved with...something..., the Tower of Art is a twisted wreck with bits falling off; the city walls are decrepit, covered in graffiti, and falling down, and its most unique claim to fame is its smell. Even Orcs would find their nasal equipment closing down in self-preservation. Played with in the sense that, despite the chaos and dilapidation, Ankh-Morpork still works; it's still the place to be on the Disc.
  • The Hunger Games: The Capitol is a deliberate subversion. While it certainly looks the part, it's actually a Wretched Hive filled with decadent hedonists who take from the poor Districts without giving anything back and expect annual entertainment in the form of the eponymous games (i.e. gladiatorial battles to the death). The film makes it look even more spectacular, a sharp contrast to the poverty-stricken District 12.
  • Land of Oz: The Emerald City.
  • Michael Moorcock: Tanelorn in the various works is the archetypal shining city: every world in the Multiverse seems to have its own version of it.
  • Nation of the Third Eye: There is a shining astral city located literally on the sun's surface. It is populated by highly evolved beings and changes shape all the time.
  • The Neverending Story: Though not a city, the Ivory Tower qualifies on counts of being the Childlike Empress' home... and really shiny!
  • The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas: Deconstructed with the titular city. It has floating light sources, fuelless power, a cure for the common cold, and everyone is happy... except the child who is regularly tortured to avoid the complete collapse of the society.
  • The Star Kings: The capital of the Mid-Galactic Empire is built of glass upon shining silica cliffs above a silver sea. With a hot white sun like Canopus overhead the citizenry must have to wear shades.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium
    • The Hobbit: Has the Lonely Mountain and its underground Dwarf kingdom of Erebor, which lies next to the adjacent and allied Northmen city of Dale. Both of these northern cities are easily as impressive as Minas Tirith.
    • The Lord of the Rings
      • Minas Tirith (lit. 'tower of The Guard') is the setting's Shining City (even though the outer wall, Othram, was depicted as black in the book). Minas Ithil (lit. 'tower of the Moon') was her sister and also a Shining City... until the Ringwraiths turned it into the Wretched Hive of pure evil known as Minas Morgul (tower of Sorcery). Both were originally glorified guard-posts for Gondor's original capital, the Shining Shining City of Osgiliath on the Anduin river. The Gondorian Civil War, Great Plague, and finally a sacking by an army of the first Uruk-Hai put an end to that status. Founding the new capital away from Osgiliath and the border with Mordor was unthinkable because it felt too much like admitting defeat, so the city of Minas Anor (City of the Sun) was renamed and put to that purpose.
      • Minas Morgul does still emit light, but it's a "a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing."
    • The Silmarillion: Has the Hidden City of Gondolin, the last free nation of the Ñoldor in Middle-Earth and the fairest city ever constructed by the Elves in exile. Naturally, Morgoth gets it in the end.
  • The Wheel of Time: The city of Tar Valon, which surrounds the White Tower and is surrounded by the Shining Walls. All the buildings were built ahead of time by master stonemasons in pretty shapes reminiscent of waves and seashells and such, and the White Tower in the middle is housing for the powerful Aes Sedai, an order of magic-users with great political influence. Also fits the snobbishness bit, since the Aes Sedai are rather arrogant.
    • Most Ogierbuilt cities count as well, though the most prominent ones are the aforementioned Tar Valon and Caemlyn. Cairhien would be an example, but it's had an unfortunate tendency to be repeatedly pillaged in the books' recent history.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The Capital of Gallifrey.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Strongly subverted with King’s Landing. Conceived of and built as the capital of the Targaryen dynasty 300 years earlier, by the time of the series it’s largely become a massive, unorganized tangle of narrow and crowded streets. It’s also incredibly filthy and can be smelled by approaching travelers from miles away.
    • The inhabitants of the Vale of Arryn apply this trope to their region as a whole. While many Westerosi claim descent from the Andals who invaded thousands of years ago, the Valemen possess the purest unbroken Andal bloodlines, and they can be quite boastful about it. Also, the Vale is a heavily mountainous region, allowing the inhabitants to comfortably stay out of major conflicts without the need for substantial defenses. While not a "city" in any sense, this combination of being overly proud of their heritage and an easily defensible homeland has bred what Petyr Baelish calls an "arrogance of isolation" in the Valemen (i.e. viewing themselves as superior to those outside of their borders). While not every individual inhabitant displays this mentality, it is pretty pervasive, and sometimes the Valemen can come off as too proud for their own good.
  • Ice Fantasy: Snowblade City, Ka Suo's and Shi's home and the capital of the Ice Tribe. A shining city literally as well as metaphorically, since the whole place is made out of ice.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: If there is one thing Evil Chancellor Pharazon is not lying about is Armenelos being the triumph of civilization. The capital city of Numenor is without a doubt the most impressive city of the Second Age in Arda. With its suspended water canals, huge statues, golden domes, and buildings made from white limestone, the city is as shining as it is impressive.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Actually a "Shining Borough": Harlem is shown reverence even by the antagonists, with one exception
  • Memphis Beat: This fits the level of love that the cast seems to have for their eponymous hometown, although protagonist Dwight Hendricks seems to be almost religious in his reverence.
  • Merlin (2008): Camelot is portrayed as this when Merlin first arrives there (the first shot of the city shows a beautiful castle bathed in sunlight). However, he quickly learns that it's a dangerous place to live for magic users.
  • Star Trek:
    • Most Earth cities are like this. The one we see most often, San Francisco (Star Fleet HQ), certainly qualifies.
    • The capitals of friendly worlds like Trill and Bajor are usually shown like this, too. More antagonistic or troublesome capitals, like those on Romulus and Cardassia, still manage to look impressive and imposing.
    • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Muse", a poet in an alien Bronze Age society writes a play from the logs of a crashed shuttle, referring to this trope in the final words of his play.
      Kelis: And Voyager will continue on her journey to the gleaming cities of Earth where peace reigns, and hatred has no home.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Tar Valon is a very literal example, as its centered upon the White Tower, where the Aes Sedai are headquartered, which is the color of its name and shines in the sun. Additionally, the rest of the city has been built from pale stone too, with it all being a magnificent, ancient place. In the city, it's a bustling environment with people very colorfully dressed.

  • Friends at the Table: A central plot point of the Sangfielle setting is Zevunzolia, a hypothetical utopia that literally glows because it will be built on top of an artificial sun. Zevunzolia is so perfect that just laying eyes on a scale model of it has the power to restore one's Sanity Meter, sort of like an inverse Brown Note — or more ominously, sort of like Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul, which is one of the things that makes it deeply unsettling for people who aren't so invested in the "hypothetical utopia" thing. In the epilogue, Pickman finds a way into (one possible version of?) Zevunzolia and finds it both unearthly and kind of twee. Utopia is subjective, and this one was envisioned by people who think it's "the way things are now, but better".

  • The astronomically huge New Jerusalem, described in the biblical Book of Revelation, is a visionary Shining City frequently identified with Heaven itself. It has walls and streets of gold, foundations of gemstones, and twelve gates, each one carved of a single monstrous pearl. (Yes, THOSE "pearly gates." The oysters are left to your imagination.) Trees of Life, like the one forbidden to Adam and Eve when they were expelled from Eden, here line the streets, and a river of Water of Life springs from the foot of Christ's throne. The whole thing is cubical in shape and roughly as large, on a side, as the distance from Old Jerusalem to Rome. It specifically contains no temple because it doesn't need one, considering Who lives there.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech the cover of ComStars field manual has Terra with white shinny buildings. This showcases Teraa's as one of the most technologically advanced worlds untouched by war.
  • The primary setting for Crimestrikers is Bonita Harbor, the exotic port city where both the titular hero team and the benevolent One World Order they work for are based. The book describes it as "San Francisco meets Auckland meets TaleSpin's Cape Suzette".
  • The 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons provides Hestavar, a city on the Astral Sea where Pelor, Ioun, and Erathis (god of Sun, Knowledge, and Civilization, respectively) resides. It's also the afterlife for the followers of those gods. And it does have its share of intrigue.
    • In the Forgotten Realms, Myth Drannor first and Silverymoon later have been described as this, the latter being called the Gem of the North besides of because its architecture, evoking the former city, being a bastion of good and civilization among the monster-ridden northern lands. It has its share of intrigues too.
  • Exalted: Yu-Shan, the seat of power of Unconquered Sun and the Five Maidens. The center of Celestial Bureaucracy runs by the myriad gods of Creation. The headquarter of the Sidereal Exalted. It's basically the Capitol of Creation itself, with the usual intrigues. Its Shadowland is Malfeas the Demon City (a city that's also an individual), which used to rule it as its God-king.
    • Yu-Shan does also have areas of urban sprawl (typically the enormous slums populated by destitute gods whose domains have been lost or rendered largely irrelevant, or who have otherwise fallen from grace).
    • The city of Meru, capital of the Old Realm, also qualifies. The Imperial City is its closest counterpart during the Second Age.
    • The city of Ondar Shambal was built to be as holy as possible, with walls of white jade and a city grid made entirely of magitek in the form of holy mandala to work as a geomantic prayer amplifier. It is the holiest place on the surface of Creation, so sacred that when powerful magic was used to destroy The Fair Folk who were attacking the world, all the Fair Folk armies camped around its walls escaped death because of how protected the city is.
  • In Infernum, the Ninth Circle of Hell is Pandemonium, the capital of the Infernum, a symbol of all of demonkind's hopes and dreams, and the prize for whoever unites Hell under his claw. From the perspective of anyone else, of course, it's the Ninth Circle of Hell, an impossible maze of streets between the palaces of the First Fallen, ringed by a river of black ice.
  • In Magic: The Gathering the plot of the Mesoamerican-inspired Ixalan is the search for Orazca, an El Dorado-like city of gold built by the ancestors of the Sun Empire.
  • The city-plane of Axis in Pathfinder is a megalopolis bigger than most material planets. It is the archetype on which all civilization is modeled and the physical embodiment of the Lawful Neutral alignment. Like Hestavar, it is the home of several gods, including Abadar, the god of civilization, and the deceased Aroden, god of humans. Its builders and main inhabitants, the axiomites, are living mathematical concepts who pushed back the primal chaos of the Maelstrom and practically invented culture. It does have a seedy underside, though — the sewer-realm of Norgorber, the god of thieves and secrets.
  • In Sparks Of Light, Waterfall City is the Earthly headquarters of the Courts of Light. The streets are clean and green spaces well-maintained, the local economy revolves around art, entertainment and leisure, the wealth available through the Light funds social services that make Scandinavia look poor, and Dark magic has no presence. The only problem is that even with housing assistance and social services, people are getting priced out of living there because the city has no more room to grow, and the waitlists to get into the necessary programs are years long.
  • Warhammer 40,000 provides a fair few of these, although, being the sort of setting it is, virtually all have since fallen, decayed or hide terrible secrets. Examples include the City of Seers on Prospero (razed by the Space Wolves); Eldar Craftworlds (home to the last remnants of a race so decadent it created the God(dess?) of Sensual Excess); many Shrine Worlds of the Imperium, most notably Holy Terra itself, although all of those have sizable Wretched Hive slum zones, often underground; the Tau worlds; and many of the cities in the Realm of Ultramar (apart from areas on Calth and Macragge which are still rebuilding from the last wars fought on them).
    • The Word Bearers Legion used to build grand temple-cities on the worlds they conquered in the name of the Emperor. After the Horus Heresy, those were almost all destroyed by Imperial loyalists. The Word Bearers still raise grand temple-cities, but they no longer fit this trope, being dedicated to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, and usually made of blackened wrought iron and obsidian. And covered in Evil Spikes of Evil.


    Video Games 
  • Black & White 2:
    • Your goal as a Good god is to create cities so magnificent that your enemies willingly defect to your side. This usually makes for happy citizens, beautiful residences, abundant amenities, wildflowers and butterflies, and, since Light Is Good, bright white marble buildings.
    • Subverted in the first Japanese level thanks to Gameplay and Story Segregation. The enemy leader boasts that his civilization is more beautiful, more cultured, and just plain better than yours, but the Video Game A.I. has a tendency to turn the city into a bleak Mordor for expediency's sake.
  • Zig-zagged in the City-Building Series, where each level consists of building or managing a city to meet specific victory conditions. Sometimes the goal is to create a shining city with awe-inspiring monuments, luxurious residences, Idle Rich, a full treasury, and/or plenty of amenities. Others have a level objective like repelling invasions or cranking out exports and let you run the place into the ground as long as you get the job done.
  • Some Civilization games allow a "Cultural" victory condition, where your entire civilization is so full of shining cities that everyone else can't help but feel awed.
  • Anor Londo, the City of the Gods in Dark Souls, apart from being abandoned, seem to fit this perfectly. It's a subversion — the shining part is an illusion created by Gwyndolin, and can be dispelled by "killing" the illusion of his sister Gwynevere. The sun will then disappear from the city, leaving it in a creepy darkness which really lets you feel it's a Ghost Town.
  • What little we see of Upper Heng Sha in Deus Ex: Human Revolution fits this. It is impeccably built in a futuristic style and is a major hub of China's augmentation industry. It is also the only location the first three Deus Ex games that we see in broad daylight. Shiny? Oh yes!
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • The series' lore describes Alinor, the Altmeri capital city of the Summerset Isles, as one. Impossibly tall vine-line buildings with swirling architecture rise high into the sky, where their glass/crystalline structures refract light to create rainbows in a manner reminiscent of "insect wings."
    • Morrowind has Mournhold, the massive capital city of the eponymous province visited in the Tribunal expansion. It's expressly called "City of light. City of magic" by its denizens.
    • Skyrim:
      • Solitude. Capital of Skyrim, visible for miles from atop the rock arch it's built on, and full of grand Imperial towers and manor houses.
      • Whiterun. It's a well kept, clean Nordic city. It is home to the largest castle in Skyrim (Dragonsreach) and has a very bright White Pinewood on Yellow Roof theme and can be seen from pretty much anywhere on the map if you get high enough.
  • The city of Trodel Stadt in Endless Frontier, city sitting along in a world full of blast craters and crashed battleships.
  • Final Fantasy XI: Jeuno is this, a shining neutral city-state in a central location between the three warring nations, with grand architecture and an opulent in-game soundtrack.
  • Guild Wars 2 has one for each playable race. The capital of Kryta for the humans, Divinity's Reach is essentially a positively massive fairy tale castle that never stopped growing, the Charr have the Black Citadel, which can best be described as a steampunk EPCOT, the Norn have Hoelbrak Lodge, the Sylvari have the Pale Tree, dominated by the light of what can only be described as their goddess, and the Asura have Rata-Sum, a massive, floating cube filled with technological and magical wonders.
  • The floating city of Caldoria in The Journeyman Project, even though we get to see very little of it, since the games are focused on traveling to the past.
    • Atlantis was this as well, at least by ancient standards. On the other hand, Atlanteans maintained their secrecy by fielding a powerful navy that captured any ship that happened to get too close to Atlantis. The crews were allowed to live in the city, provided they never try to leave.
  • The Citadel Station in Mass Effect, capital of the Citadel Council, definitely qualifies, even though it's got a little secret...
    • Nos Astra on Illium and Milgrom on Bekenstein in Mass Effect 2 are these for the asari and humans respectively, but in typical BioWare fashion they have dark undersides as well.
    • Based on the Prothean ruins, one can assume that their cities were like this as well. Of course, as revealed in the third game, they weren't nearly as glorious and enlightened as Liara had always assumed, forging an interstellar Empire out of subject races and forcing them to adopt their doctrine.
  • Laurentia in Nexus Clash was its world's premier center of culture, finance, medicine and science and was the chosen city of Baraas, the personification of cooperation. This meant it was the last place standing when the rest of the world went to hell and very nearly took Laurentia with it.
  • Lumiose City in Pokémon X and Y is the series' version of Gay Paree and a prime example of the trope. Its motto is even "The City of Light".
  • The capital city of the elves in Runescape is Prifddinas, the crystal city on the extreme western edge of the world. In addition to being beautifully designed, it also serves as a late-game adventuring and skilling hub, and it even comes with its own Grand Exchange. The city was reverted to crystal hundreds of years before the present day, and its return to its former glory is part of what heralds in the Sixth Age of the story.
  • The city inside the ARK in SOMA.
  • Baticul in Tales of the Abyss. It's known as the City of Light.
    • And Grand Chokmah, the Floating City. It is, if anything, even brighter and shinier than Baticul.
  • World of Warcraft: Dalaran fits this trope closely. It is literally very shiny due to all of the magic crystals. More importantly though, Dalaran is the last remnant of old Lordaeron and represents everything that was cool about that civilization. It has also been used as a heroic headquarters on multiple occasions. **while Shattrath doesn't fit the architectural aspects, the big beam of light emanating from the center of it is very shiny indeed. The beam of light is created by a Naaru.
    • Shattrath on alternate Draenor DOES fit this trope to a T. Alternate Draenor also has Auchindoun, which is this trope but for the spirits of the dead.
    • What remains of Silvermoon City. Aside from just being the largest city in the game (if you count both the functional and non-functional parts) it's also really architecturally impressive. The layout is also considerably nicer than a lot of the other cities in the game. If you teleport in (especially if you teleport from the Ruins of Lordaeron) the saturation of the colors can actually be jarring.
    • Thunder Bluff fits the trope, although it doesn't literally shine or look as obviously impressive as the other cities. It was purpose-built by High Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof to be a capital city and to represent the ideals of the Tauren people.
    • The Legion expansion introduced Suramar City. It's the last intact remnant of the ancient Night Elf empire. In addition to being absolutely massive, every part of it looks absolutely stunning. It is also a multilayered maze which you can spend multiple hours unsuccessfully trying to navigate. Oddly enough, it wasn't built as a capital city although it does serve that purpose for the Nighbourne now. That was Zin-Azhari: the ruins of which you can find spread across THREE separate zones.
    • Battle for Azeroth topped Suramar with Dazar Alor, the ancient Capital city of the Zandalari Empire. It is built in a particularly pleasing Mayincatec style, and much of it is covered in gold and gemstones. It's topped off with a huge pyramid which serves as the palace. Naturally of course, in addition to being the Horde capital for the expansion it is also a raid. It's graveyard is also a super cool dungeon.
    • Theramore, although like Thunder Bluff it isn't literally shiny, still fits the trope. It was built to be a symbol of peace and hope after the destruction of Lordaeron. It's destruction by Warchief Garrosh Hellscream is considered canonically to be one of the most heinous war crimes ever committed.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, Atlas is a stunningly beautiful and technologically advanced city that floats high above the tundra and its lesser sister-city, Mantle. Known as the "city of dreams", Atlas is a city of pristine white towers and soft lights that was raised into the sky to serve as an inspiration in the aftermath of the Great War. Unfortunately, the kingdom has become increasingly divided as the military and the wealthiest citizens live in comfort in the floating city while the working class, the poor, and the Faunus live below in the industrial slums of Mantle. Political and Corporate corruption, increasing abuses of the people of Mantle, anti-Faunus sentiments, and increasing military authority in all walks of life have seen Atlas inch closer to becoming a Soiled City on a Hill. Volume 7 focuses on this tension coming to a head, with General Ironwood's policies putting increasing pressure on the already-suffering people of Mantle and enemy agents working to undermine the kingdom. The volume concludes with Salem arriving with a massive army of Grimm, preparing to lay siege to Atlas. Volume 8 sees Atlas slowly destroyed by the Grimm attacks and Ironwood's growing dictatorship, forcing the heroes to evacuate everyone in Solitas while letting Atlas fall into Mantle, with the ruined cities being flooded in the finale.

  • In Drowtales, the name "Chel'el'Sussoloth" literally translates to "city of light within darkness".
  • The Dreamland Chronicles: The location of Ashendel where the Elves live provides a stunning view.
  • Subverted in Kill Six Billion Demons. The world of Rayuba is peaceful and clean and its cities clad in the finest marble, eternally bright from the two suns that gives it an Endless Daytime. Its citizens are safe, educated and well-cared for. However, Rayuba is the capital of the Celestial Empire, a brutal slaver-empire ruled by the God-Emperor and Knight Templar Solomon David, and its cleanliness and wealth is built on conquest and enforced with an iron fist.
    ‘They must enrapture you with splendor,’ said the Boar King, who had noticed Enyis’ confusion. ‘Otherwise, you might look down and notice the blood-matted beast who shoulders this city, and your mind will fill with unpleasant truths.'
  • Kethenecia in Looking for Group, which was depopulated but has since become repopulated by The Alliance.
  • Lovely Lovecraft: Randolph Carter's city of Ilek-Vad.
  • In Our Little Adventure, Starlight Point is a "beacon of good and light" whose ruler is an angelic warrior and whose government building is a literal beacon of light. Inside, it's a bit of a Sugar Bowl with paid illusionists to build the citizens' self-esteem and inspire them to do good deeds.
  • The Winged Cities from Tower of God.

    Web Original 
  • The self-styled city of Utopia in The Chronicles of Utopia Volume II is this in spades. The city is made from white stone and its main defensive wall contains a massive interconnected network of defensive and divine warding schemes to keep out its enemies. The city itself is ruled by an immortal golden dragon and is considered a center of learning and enlightened thought.
  • The eponymous city of The Questport Chronicles.
  • In the SCP Foundation files, SCP-4005 is a lamp that, when lit and looked into, reveals an otherwordly city of this kind and instills the viewer with a strong desire to go on a pilgrimage to it, with every viewer having their path and their own, personal entryway that will teleport them to the city. As always, this has a bit of a twist. The twist in this case being, there isn't one. No-one is being brainwashed. There is no eldritch deity, or Lotus-Eater Machine, consuming those who move there. The city seen in SCP-4005 is, for all intents and purposes, genuinely a better place to live, and the people who move there find a better world waiting for them, where everyone is essentially given their own block of the city to shape, share and live in as they please. At the end, the entire population of Earth migrate to the city, leaving the Earth behind.
  • In TwistedCogs the city of Milia is a downplayed version of this. It is bright, extremely clean (for the time period), and a center of high class culture.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: Newtopia is, ostensibly, this. It's a prosperous walled city, the capital of Amphibia and the seat of The Good King Andrias. The city is mostly made of white marble with many golden statues and is built on a hill with the king's castle overlooking from the top. Everyone from the rest of Amphibia wants to visit Newtopia.
  • Arcane: Piltover looks like this with it's gleaming white-gold aesthetic and constant emphasis on scientific progress but there's definitely an element of Bread and Circuses with the Piltover Enforcers acting as oppressors to the lower-class of Zaun and having to pacify the upper-class with a fall guy after Jayce's apartment accidentally gets blown up by Vi and her gang.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Subverted with the city of Ba Sing Se. Through the first season (and first half of Season 2), it's set up to be this — cue The Reveal.
    • Legend of Korra: The sequel series partially subverts the trope with Republic City. Conceived by Avatar Aang to be the center of peace and balance in a changing world, the city has fallen into economic and political hardship in the years since, with criminal triads competing for influence. That being said, the city still has many good qualities, and people from all nations have gathered together to continue innovating and making the world a better place.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Canterlot, the capital city of Equestria, is named after Camelot and based on Minas Tirith for good measure.
  • Shera And The Princesses Of Power: Exaggerated with Bright Moon. It is a literally shining city, as it has the Moon Stone, which glows brightly with Rune Stone power. Bright Moon is home to Princess Glimmer and her family, as well as Bow and Adora, and it is even attacked at the end of season one by the Horde forces.

    Real Life 
  • The American concept of building a City on a Hill, an American utopia based on Christian principles to serve as an example to the rest of the world. It's a reference to the Sermon on the Mount: "Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do [men] light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

    That analysis reflects more how Ronald Reagan redefined John Winthrop's original usage. When Winthrop said that, he meant to remind his followers that their stated aims meant that they would be under greater scrutiny from the rest of the world, that their mistakes would be as visible as their successes.
  • Promotional videos for Dubai like to paint it as this. The video of a ride along the city's mostly elevated metro system through three of its major built-up areas, in gold-tinged late-afternoon sunlight, with an ambient-music soundtrack make it seem incredibly slick and modern. While at night it looks like Blade Runner. Much like the false veneer of an Ascetic Aesthetic, documented cases of foreign worker exploitation tarnish the outwardly pristine image.
  • Washington, D.C. was built as one of these, what with the Neoclassical architecture realized in bright white stone, the rational grid of streets, and so on, to house the enlightened, rational government. Unfortunately, it was built in the middle of a disease-ridden swamp, many of the buildings in early DC were ramshackle huts, and that government became the site of corruption and sectional acrimony within the space of a generation.
  • Brasilia, the planned city built to be the capital of Brazil. It's full of sleek and gleaming white buildings with a deliberately '60s space-age flair, surrounded by plenty of open grassy pavilions and forested areas, making it look like a real-life Tomorrowland. As if that wasn't enough, the whole city was laid out in the shape of a jumbo jet, just to hammer home that Brazil was going places. Unfortunately, its utopian aspirations crashed and burned, as Brasilia became the seat of a military junta less than five years after it was completed.
  • 'Sejong Special Self-Governing City' was built to be this for Korea. It was named after the most revered king in Korean history, and the city was planned as a administrative city where shiny and new government offices and parks will be located along with government employees and their families as citizens away from Seoul where too much of the political and administrative power was concentrated. This measure was also to prevent the entire governmental body being annihilated by a single strike from North Korea.
  • Constantinople (now it's Istanbul (Not Constantinople)) remained the Shining City (at least as an ideal; in practice it was more of a Mega City) of Europe for well over a millennia during its time as capital of The Byzantine Empire. Purpose-built by Constantine to be the capital of his empire, it served as the gateway to the east (through The Silk Road) and eclipsed its predecessor (Rome) in importance for the Roman Empire — by the 12th century, Constantinople was practically synonymous with the last vestiges of Rome. This continued after its conquest by the Ottomans, who referred to it as "The City of the World's Desire". With the growing importance of the American colonies and spice trade through the Cape of Good Hope, the city lost much of its luster.


Video Example(s):


Starbase Yorktown

The Enterprise arrives at starbase Yorktown, for resupply, shore leave for its crew and a good dose of eye candy for the audience.

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5 (13 votes)

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Main / SceneryPorn

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