- "Aegon built his castle of red rock to remind people of the fire he roasted his enemies in, so whenever King's Landing looked up they'd see the price of defiance."
- ―Joffrey Baratheon
The Red Keep is the residence of the King of the Andals and the First Men, his family and his court, located within King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. It dominates the skyline of the city, and serves as the city's primary fortress and redoubt.
Located in the southeastern corner of King's Landing, the Red Keep overlooks Blackwater Bay and the Narrow Sea. It is currently the seat of Queen Cersei Lannister and was formerly the seat of King Tommen Baratheon, King Joffrey Baratheon, King Robert Baratheon, and before him the seat of the Targaryen kings.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall is the massive throne room of the Red Keep and is where the Iron Throne is situated. The King (or his Hand, in the event of the King's absence), holds court and receives petitioners within the Great Hall. It is also employed for official ceremonies.
Maegor's Holdfast is a stout tower in the center of the Red Keep. It was named after King Maegor Targaryen, who built the Red Keep. It serves as a redoubt when the city is attacked. The royal apartments are also located in Maegor's Holdfast.
Maegor's Holdfast served as a refuge for Queen Cersei and the highborn ladies of the Red Keep during the Battle of the Blackwater.
When Cersei becomes the Queen and the Lannisters engage in a war with Daenerys Targaryen and her allies, Cersei has the courtyard at the top of the Holdfast to be designed with a battle map of Westeros replacing the previous plants and ivory there.
The Tower of the Hand
When Tywin Lannister assumes his Hand duties for King Joffrey he arranges for the meetings of the small council to be held in the Tower of the Hand to assert his own authority. He is later killed by his son, Tyrion Lannister, whilst in the privy by a crossbow.
The White Sword Tower
The Traitor's Walk
The Traitor's Walk is an outer corridor on one of the sides of the Red Keep with view to one of its outer walls. The heads of criminals and traitors are placed on spikes over said wall, visible both to the exterior of the Red Keep and whoever passes through the corridor.
The dungeons of the Red Keep are divided in four levels:
- On the upper level are cells with high narrow windows where common criminals are confined together.
- The second level has smaller, personal cells without windows for highborn captives and valuable hostages.
- The Black Cells are the third level. Prisoners accused of treason and other high crimes are kept within the Black Cells, as was the case of Ned Stark. Varys has access to the Black Cells, though he dons the disguise of a gaoler when entering.
- The fourth level is spoken of only in rumors. Once a man is taken here, he never sees the light of day again and is subjected to the most painful torments.
The Red Keep, according to rumors, is full of miles of secret passages running behind the walls and below the floors. Maegor the Cruel had the builders of the Red Keep executed after the castle was completed to keep the secret of the passageways.
Notable current residents of the Keep
- Queen Cersei Lannister of House Lannister, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms.
- The Queen's Small Council:
- Ser Boros Blount, Ser Preston Greenfield, Ser Balon Swann, Ser Arys Oakheart, Ser Gregor Clegane, knights of the Kingsguard.
- Ser Ilyn Payne, the King's Justice
Behind the scenes
In the books
In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Red Keep is a major castle complex located at the south-eastern corner of the city of King's Landing, directly overlooking the Blackwater Rush and Blackwater Bay. It is built atop Aegon's High Hill, the tallest hill of the city, and affords a panoramic view of the rest of the city. It consists of a number of interconnected buildings, such as the main keep, a secondary castle called Maegor's Holdfast and the Tower of the Hand, the seat of the Hand of the King. White Sword Tower is the base of operations for the Kingsguard. The Red Keep is so-named due to the redstone bricks used to build it.
The Red Keep was built approximately three centuries prior to the events of the series and replaced an earlier wooden fort called "Aegonfort", built by King Aegon I Targaryen where he first set foot on the continent and used as his base of operations in his conquest of Westeros. After Aegon deemed the fort unsuitable for rule, he took the royal court to Dragonstone, and ruled there for many years until his death. The construction of the Keep was an immense undertaking, spanning the reign of the first few Targaryen kings, although modifications and additions to the castle have been made ever since.
Locations in the Red Keep
Maidenvault · Godswood · Traitor's Walk · Black Cells