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Dalaran City lore and history - Field Photographer Friday

Updated 6 years, 4 months ago by Preston in Field Photographer Friday, Lore, Warcraft. View the change log.

Field Photographer Friday is a weekly look at the lore and history behind locations around World of Warcraft. This week, we're taking a look at Dalaran City!

Prales outside the Violet Citadel Thumbnail
Prales outside the Violet Citadel

Dalaran is the capital city of the mage-nation by the same name. Originally founded by fledgling magi in Alterac Mountains, it was physically moved by the magi to Northrend during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. It will again be moved to the coast of the Broken Isles in the Legion expansion. Both times serving as the central city for players and lore figures alike to carry out operations against their enemies.

What Dalaran would have looked like without the dome. (WoWWiki) Thumbnail
What Dalaran would have looked like without the dome. (WoWWiki)

The city was founded during the decline of the first human empire of Arathor and built atop a powerful ley line in the Alterac Mountains. It was a utopia for magic users and non-magic users alike. Unfortunately, the immense arcane energy from the ley line coupled with unregulated magic use lured the Burning Legion to Azeroth. Unwilling to sacrifice their power and form alliances, the magi instead selected a mortal hero to act as their guardian. The Guardian, selected by the newly formed Order of Tirisfal, would harness all of Dalaran’s magical power in defense of the planet.

With the Guardian in place, the city served as a haven for studying and practicing magic for thousands of years, eventually playing host to such figures as Jaina Proudmoore and Kael’thas Sunstrider. During this time, a group called the Kirin Tor was established. Initially, their main function was to go out into the world to study and observe all forms of magic they encountered, but they quickly became the ruling body of the city.

Dalaran would not see conflict again until the Second War where it assisted the Alliance in repelling the Horde invasion. Following the war, Draenor Warchief Ner’zhul instructed Teron Gorefiend, one of the first Death Knights, to infiltrate Dalaran’s Arcane Vault. With the help of Deathwing, Teron successfully stole the Eye of Dalaran, a powerful artifact created by the Dalaran magi and used to help construct the city.

Not long after, Arthas Menethil, former Prince of Lordaeron and now leader of the Scourge, led his army into Dalaran to acquire Medivh’s spellbook. Kel’Thuzad, a disaffected member of the Kirin Tor who had been resurrected as a Lich, used the spellbook to summon Archimonde into the world. Archimonde destroyed the city and the Scourge army moved on.

While battling the Scourge, Grand Marshal Garithos and the Alliance Remnants group took over the Dalaran ruins. Kael’thas Sunstrider and his group arrived shortly after to lend a hand, but Garithos’ hostility towards the elves led him to imprison Kael’thas and his army in Dalaran’s dungeon. They escaped the dungeon and fled to Outland not long after.

The large dome protecting Dalaran (Wowpedia) Thumbnail
The large dome protecting Dalaran (Wowpedia)

Despite their city being in ruins, the Kirin Tor returned months later to reclaim it. They purged the city of enemies and constructed a large arcane dome around the city, blocking all outside access. This finally brings us to how Dalaran first appeared in World of Warcraft - as a large arcane dome in the Alterac Mountains.

The city existed only as a dome until the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Under the leadership of Archmage Rhonin, the city had been rebuilt and was moved to Northrend. From here, it served as the central hub in the fight against the Lich King’s army and the Blue Dragonflight’s desire to drain the world of its magic. Upon arriving in Northrend, the city was immediately assaulted by Malygos, the fallen Aspect of Magic and leader of the Blue Dragonflight. Once again, the city was protected by a large arcane shield constructed by the magi.

Dalaran floating over Northrend Thumbnail
Dalaran floating over Northrend

The crater left behind in Alterac Mountains Thumbnail
The crater left behind in Alterac Mountains

Previously allied with the Alliance, Dalaran was now open to the Horde as well, taking a neutral stance in the Horde vs Alliance conflict. This was made possible by the efforts of Aethas Sunreaver, a blood elf Archmage and member of the governing body in Dalaran called the Council of Six.

This neutral stance is challenged by the events leading up to the Mists of Pandaria expansion. A Blue Dragonflight artifact called the Focusing Iris had gone missing. While searching for the Iris, it was discovered that the new Horde Warchief, Garrosh Hellscream, had plans to conquer all of Kalimdor. The assistance of the Kirin Tor was requested by Jaina Proudmoore to defend the town of Theramore from the impending Horde assault. The Kirin Tor reluctantly gave support, but it was of little help as the defenses were sabotaged. The battle culminated when a large mana bomb, constructed using the stolen Focusing Iris, was dropped on the town - leveling the town and killing everyone inside. You can experience this moment in game through the “Theramore’s Fall” scenario. This is more or less the state in which Dalaran exists in game now, before the Legion expansion.

Ruins of Theramore, following the Horde bombing Thumbnail
Ruins of Theramore, following the Horde bombing

It was later discovered that Garrosh Hellscream had also abused portals in Dalaran to steal a Mogu artifact called the Divine Bell from Darnassus. Learning of this information, along with the theft of the Focusing Iris and subsequent bombing, Jaina Proudmoore ordered all Horde to be purged from Dalaran. This put an end to the city’s neutral stance and their 2,000 year-old alliance with the blood elves of Silvermoon. The outcome of the purge is not something we see enforced ingame. It technically happens after Dalaran begins moving out of Northrend, but in-game Dalaran is still located in Northrend for obvious gameplay purposes. The in-game lore effectively “frozen” to a time before the purge.

Dalaran in the distance, over the Broken Isles (Wowpedia) Thumbnail
Dalaran in the distance, over the Broken Isles (Wowpedia)

Dalaran eventually finds itself on the shores of the Broken Isle, once again serving as the central hub for players. Khadgar has since taken over duties as the leader of the Kirin Tor and the city, once again granting the Horde access. It remains to be seen what will happen to the city and its inhabitants in Legion!

Additional Lore Resources for Dalaran City

Recommended Reading Related to Dalaran City

Kael'thas Sunstrider - +

Kael'thas Sunstrider was a senior member of the Kirin Tor and the Prince of Quel'Thalas, the last of the Sunstrider dynasty. -Wowpedia



Ner'zhul - +

The Elder Shaman Ner'zhul was the Warchief of the Draenor clans that remained uncaptured after the Dark Portal was originally destroyed in Azeroth.

Teron Gorefiend - +

Teron Gorefiend was one of Gul'dan's acolytes and a member of the Shadow Council. In death, he became the first of the necromantic terrors that became known as death knights. -Wowpedia

Deathwing (Neltharion) - +

Deathwing the Destroyer, formerly known as Neltharion the Earth-Warder, was one of the five Dragon Aspects and leader of the black dragonflight. -Wowpedia

Arthas Menethil - +

Arthas Menethil, Crown Prince of Lordaeron and Knight of the Silver Hand, was the son of King Terenas Menethil II and heir to the throne; before losing his soul to Mal'Ganis.

Medivh - +

Medivh was the last Guardian of Tirisfal, an ancient line of protectors bestowed with great powers to do battle with the agents of the Burning Legion. He was corrupted even before birth, and possessed by the spirit of the demonlord Sargeras -Wowpedia

Kel'Thuzad - +

Kel'Thuzad was once a human mage of the Kirin Tor. He went on to become the founder of the Cult of the Damned and one of the principal agents of the Lich King. -Wowpedia


Khadgar - +

A legendary wizard, Khadgar is a master of the arcane arts and a constant thorn in the side of the Burning Legion.

Archimonde - +

Archimonde was once a leaders of the eredar, ruling alongside Kil'jaeden and Velen. He eventually joined the fallen Titan Sargeras as a commander of the Burning Legion, in pursuit of personal power.

Rhonin - +

Rhonin was an adventurer and the former leader of the Kirin Tor. A powerful human mage, he was also known to be skilled with the sword. -Wowpedia

Malygos - +

Malygos was the Aspect of the blue dragonflight, Norgannon, the titan master-magician, granted Malygos a portion of his vast power. From then on, Malygos would be known as the Spell-weaver - guardian of arcane magic.

Aethas Sunreaver - +

Archmage Aethas Sunreaver is the leader of the Sunreavers, a group of sin'dorei magi who sought the readmission of their people into the Kirin Tor. Aethas, despite his youthful age, quickly carved out a high rank in the Kirin Tor, eventually serving on its Council of Six. -Wowpedia

Garrosh Hellscream - +

Garrosh Hellscream, former Warchief of the Horde, is a living testament to the dangers of unchecked aggression.

Join me every Friday as I work to expand my lore knowledge while completing the Field Photographer achievement. Read lore summaries for each location and follow up with resources where you can go more indepth! I encourage you to share your own selfies and any additional lore resources you know of in the comments below, or tweet @PrestonDvorak. Bonus points if the selfie is somewhere you shouldn’t be (such as an Alliance player in Orgrimmar)!

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