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"For a capital that had hosted so many wars, both civil and interplanetary, Vorbarr Sultana seemed in remarkably good shape to Tej's eye. From her readings of Barrayaran history aboard the JP-9, she'd half expected to see gutted buildings with blackened timbers still smoking, bomb craters in the streets, and haunted, emaciated people scurrying like rats among the barricades. Instead, it was fully modernized, if not always fully modern, chock-a-block with galactic-standard transportation and architecture, with citizens - no, subjects, she corrected the term - out everywhere, looking busy and well-fed and alarmingly assertive. Terms like lively or even vibrant rose to Tej's mind."
―Tej's first sight of Vorbarr Sultana[src]

Vorbarr Sultana (vohr-BAHR suhl-TAH-nah), officially titled the City of Vorbarr Sultana, was the capital city of Vorbarra's District and the seat of government for Barrayar and the Barrayaran Imperium; Emperor Gregor Vorbarra called it his "twice-capital".[1]

A navigable river ran through the city, which was famous for its bridges. One of those, the Star Bridge, was the site of a historic assault by Vlad Vorbarra to relieve a siege of the city.[2] The old part of the city was walled; some of the Old Walls still existed during Miles Vorkosigan's lifetime.[3] Each of the sixty District Counts maintained residences within the capital in addition to any they might have in their home Districts.

Lord Vorbohn the younger had an unspecified senior administrative role in the government of the city, including responsibility for law enforcement and for upgrading the traffic network, such as by bringing in automated traffic control.[4]

The law enforcement agency was called the Municipal Guard.[5][4]

Approximate layout of the city[]

  • General layout
    • Its peripheral extensions were less well-developed than those of newer cities such as Hassadar.[6]
    • The area around the Great Square was called the Old Town, which was bisected by the river and extended at least as far as Vorkosigan House.[7] Newer city extended in rings around it for a couple dozen kilometers.[8]
  • The river itself
    • Flowing west to east was the main river. Just above the point where ordinary ships could no longer travel upriver, due to waterfalls and rapids, there was a dam with locks below. Just below the locks was the Star Bridge.[2]
  • To the north of the river
  • On the south side of the river
    • University of Vorbarr Sultana was in the west, with Georg Vorthys's home nearby.[4]
    • Vorhartung Castle was not far from Vorbretten House, and the Great Square was not far away, either.[2]
    • The Great Square, with the Prime Minister's office overlooking it. Stocks for capital punishment by exposure and starvation were in easy view of the Prime Minister's office.[12]
    • The Caravanserai was a "stretched" walk to the south of the Great Square.[13]
    • The Imperial Security Headquarters building – the old one – was to the east, about a kilometer downstream from the Star Bridge.[14]
    • The Imperial Residence was not too far to the east (a few kilometers at most) from the Caravanserai.[15]
    • Modern government buildings, particularly ministries, were about one to two kilometers east of the Imperial Residence.[16]
    • The Imperial Service Headquarters was across town from the Imperial Security Headquarters[17]; it was probably one of the "modern government buildings".
    • Vorkosigan House was probably to the east of the Imperial Residence. Vorhartung Castle and the river could be seen from the roof[18]; it was four kilometers away from Imperial Security Headquarters[7] and six kilometers from Vorbarr Sultana University with the route cutting through a corner of Old Town.[4] Located in the old part of the city, it had at least three sets of tunnels under it.[19][7]
    • The Koudelkas' home was six blocks from Vorkosigan House.[20]
    • Lady Alys Vorpatril owned at least three buildings. One close to the Imperial Residence had her old apartment, another was close to Imperial Service Headquarters (Ivan lived there), and the last was upstream from the city centre (she lived there).[11]

In addition, there were quite a few famous buildings and institutions of unknown location within the city:

The Imperial Service Academy was not within the city, but it was nearby.


  • Meatballs sold by vendors on the Great Square were very low in meat.[29]
  • "Every Vor lady goes to the capital to shop."[30]

 Notes and references[]

  1. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance chapter 24
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 A Civil Campaign chapter 6
  3. A Civil Campaign chapter 16
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 A Civil Campaign chapter 1
  5. Barrayar chapter 7
  6. Memory chapter 10
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Memory chapter 4
  8. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance chapter 15
  9. Shards of Honor chapter 14
  10. Barrayar chapter 9 and various
  11. 11.0 11.1 Captain Vorpatril's Alliance chapter 9
  12. The Warrior's Apprentice chapter 18
  13. Mirror Dance chapter 14
  14. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance chapter 23
  15. Barrayar chapter 18
  16. Shards of Honor chapter 15
  17. Memory chapter 17
  18. Barrayar chapter 4
  19. Barrayar chapter 1
  20. A Civil Campaign chapter 4,12
  21. Barrayar chapter 2
  22. "Winterfair Gifts"
  23. "Labyrinth"
  24. Memory chapter 19
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Civil Campaign Epilogue
  26. 26.0 26.1 Mirror Dance chapter 15
  27. Memory chapter 12
  28. Mirror Dance chapter 18
  29. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance Epilogue
  30. Barrayar chapter 19