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 the Temple of Karabor (now commonly known as the Black Temple)!
The Temple of Karabor began as a draenic refuge and home of the Prophet Velen in Shadowmoon Valley on Draenor. It was eventually taken by Gul'dan to be used as the base of operations for the Shadow Council. Gul'dan renamed it to the Black Temple, which is what it's mostly known by today. Since then, it has changed hands many times over the years. The Black Temple is located in Outland as part of the Burning Crusade expansion, while a pristine version of the Temple of Karabor can be found in the alternate-universe Draenor as part of the Warlords of Draenor expansion.
The Temple of Karabor was originally built by the draenei to serve as their capital city and holiest temple on Draenor. The temple was assaulted by demon-blood corrupted orcs by the order of Gul'dan and the Burning Legion. After a fierce battle, the Temple fell to the orcs. It quickly became blackened by the dark magic of the Shadow Council warlocks, giving way to its new name: the Black Temple.
For years to follow, the Shadow Council warlocks operated out of the Temple, experimenting with demonic rituals and dark magic. It wasn't until the Second War when the Alliance pushed the Old Horde back through the Dark Portal that the Temple was cleansed of its demonic inhabitants. Immediately following the Alliance liberation, Ner'zhul, the Warchief of the orcs on Draenor, attempted to retreat by opening several portals to other worlds. The extreme energy from these portals caused Draenor to be torn apart, turning it into Outland as we know it today.
These portals offered a strategic advantage for the demons on Outland. A demon general named Magtheridon moved in to take over the Temple amidst the confusion and destruction following the fracturing of Draenor. From the Temple, he commanded the remaining Outland orcs and used Ner'zhul's portals to bring in more demons.
It wasn't long before the Temple was due to change hands again. This time, Illidan the Betrayer sought to claim the Black Temple for himself. He succeeded in ousting Magtheridon from the Temple, but was pulled back to Azeroth by Kil'jaeden, the acting-leader of the Burning Legion. After finishing Kil'jaeden's bidding on Azeroth, Illidan finally returned to the Temple and established it as his seat of power.
During the Black Temple raid, Horde and Alliance heroes destroyed Illidan's forces and defeated The Betrayer himself. Illidan was not killed but was instead imprisoned by the Warden Maiev Shadowsong. It is implied that Akama and the Narru stay behind to clean up the temple, but this is not something we experience in game.
As part of the Warlords of Draenor expansion, the Temple of Karabor can be visited in all of its original glory on the alternate-universe Draenor. It serves its original purpose as a refuge for the draenei and home of the Prophet Velen. Unlike in present-day Azeroth, the Temple in the alternate-universe was successfully defended by the draenei with help from Alliance heroes. As such, it was never conquered by the Iron Horde or Gul'dan.
The Temple of Karabor in alternate-universe Draenor is sure to remain in its pristine state as part of that timeline's story. However, the Black Temple in Azeroth's present-time is much more susceptible to the evils in the world, and is unlikely to return to its role as a draenic temple any time soon, if at all.
Additional Lore Resources for the Temple of Karabor
Recommended Reading for characters related to the Temple
Prophet Velen - +
Gul'dan - +
Ner'zhul - +
Magtheridon - +
Illidan Stormrage - +
Kil'jaeden - +
Maiev Shadowsong - +
Akama - +
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)!