From gleaming glades to smouldering ruins, Tamriel provides a wide variety of locations to satisfy the adventurous urges of any brave traveller. Here are 12 breathtaking spots handpicked from the Elder Scrolls games, to help you tell your Hammerfalls from your Vvardenfells.
Castle Volkihar, The Sea of Ghosts - The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
This bleak structure is hidden in The Sea of Ghosts, and you can live here if you side with the Volkihar Clan in Skyrim’s Dawnguard expansion. It’s got everything a discerning vampire could want, including a blacksmith, a kitchen, platters of fresh human flesh and a dungeon crammed with imprisoned vampire cattle. Perfect for a large midnight snack.
Bard’s Leap Summit, The Reach, Skyrim - The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
The first thing any right-minded person thinks when staring up at Skyrim’s mountains is ‘which bits can i jump off?’ This bit. There’s a winding trail to the top of the waterfall, made slightly more stressful by the presence of Forsworn and Hagravens. Make the leap without shattering your bones, and you’ll be met by the ghost of the bard Azzadal, who was less successful in his attempt.
Throat of the World, Skyrim - The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
It’s the highest mountain in all of Skyrim, and the seat of the High Hrothgar – an ancient monastery and home of the Greybeard order. In order to get there you have to climb the Seven Thousand Steps: a twisting staircase cut into the side of the mountain (which actually only has 748 steps, despite Todd Howard promising he’d count them).
Eldergleam Sanctuary, Skyrim - The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
After visiting all those castles, mountains and bustling cities, Eldergleam Sanctuary is a great place to come and reflect in the glory of nature. At least, it is once you’ve killed the angry Spriggans who protect the sanctuary. It’s also the only place in Skyrim you can pick a fight with a tree, if that’s how you choose to live your life.
Cloud Ruler Temple, Cyrodiil - The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
This mountain retreat is the home of the Blades, a secret order dedicated to protecting the Emperor. It’s worth a visit, if only to understand exactly what’s wrong with their strategy: 1) Secret orders shouldn’t live in castles; 2) It’s located miles away from where the Emperor lives; 3) There’s only about nine people in the order. No wonder he died.
White-Gold Tower, Cyrodiil - The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
The standout structure in Oblivion is White-Gold Tower. It’s a slender, commanding building, built by a lost Elven race called Ayleids, and is where the catastrophic events of the fourth game reach their climax. It also bears a resemblance to Saruman’s tower in Lord Of The Rings, which is why we’re nicknaming it ‘The Milkybar Orthanc’.
Arkved’s Tower, Cyrodiil - The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
On the outside, it looks like any other tower – white stone, leafy surroundings – but inside is one of the best quests in Oblivion. It starts quite sedately, but then the place begins to manifest as the eternal nightmare of a wizard who stole the Orb of Vaermina: upside-down rooms, giant dining halls, and shadowy voids full of hanging bodies.
A Strange Door, Cyrodiil - The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
We’re focusing on Tamriel here, so technically we can’t include the Shivering Isles, which is secretly the best bit in Oblivion. Instead, here’s the doorway that leads to the realm of Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. If you head south of here towards Leyawiin you can also find his shrine, which will unlock the bizarre and wonderful Wabbajack weapon.
Ald’ruhn, Vvardenfell - The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
Ald’ruhn is a town in Morrowind and the council seat of House Redoran, one of the five Great Houses of the Dark Elves. it’s built in the Redoran style, which means that every structure resembles a crustacean. The manor district is even contained within the massive, hollowed out body of a giant crab, because the only thing worse than imagining a giant crab is living inside one.
Red Mountain, Vvardenfell - The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
It’s not so much a red mountain as a huge, definitely-evil volcano, and the source of everything bad in Morrowind. It’s contained within a glowing, mystical wall called the Ghostgate, which keeps blighted creatures inside (except when it doesn’t). It’s also the location of Morrowind’s finale, during which the Nerevarine stabs a giant, throbbing god-heart with a magic blade. Honestly. Check the wiki.
Shrine of Azura, Vvardenfell - The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
There’s a Shrine of Azura in every Elder Scrolls game, and they usually come with a quest that will bag you Azura’s Star – a powerful, reusable soul gem. And while the quest in Skyrim is probably the most enjoyable, the statue in Morrowind is especially beautiful; sat on the south west coast of Vvardenfell, staring out over the sea.
Mournhold, Morrowind - The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
Mournhold was the capital city of Morrowind, and the setting of the Tribunal DLC. Continuing with the god-bothering theme established in the core game, you visit Mournhold and end up murdering its celestial patron, Almalexia. According to the lore, the city is sacked by Argonians later in the timeline and Morrowind’s capital is moved to Blacklight. It’s still being rebuilt around the time Skyrim takes place.
This article originally appeared in Xbox: The Official Magazine. For more great Xbox coverage, you can subscribe here.