- Main article: Locations (Skyrim)
Dragonsreach is Whiterun's keep in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It was constructed in the ornate wooden style of the great Nord longhouses of ancient days. Visually and politically, it is very much the focal point of the entire city itself and perhaps even Skyrim as a whole. As is true of the keeps in other cities, Dragonsreach serves many important functions.
As the seat of government in Whiterun, Balgruuf the Greater resides here as its ruler. Dragonsreach is situated in the "Cloud District" of Whiterun and, as the name suggests, it is elevated from the rest of the city. According to the Jarl's steward, Proventus Avenicci, the building gained its name after a battle with a dragon that left the victorious party as "rulers of the clouds."
According to legend, the palace today known as "Dragonsreach" was originally a smaller building. However, with the intent of creating a prison for the dragon Numinex after its defeat at the hands of Olaf One-Eye, the people of Whiterun added a stone prison to the keep and renamed it Dragonsreach. Though accounts vary on Olaf's position, the dragon's disposition, and the manner in which the dragon was captured, there seems to be little doubt about the history and purpose of the building.
- Balgruuf the Greater
- Proventus Avenicci
- Commander Caius
- Farengar Secret-Fire
- Lydia (after completion of Dragon Rising; until the Dragonborn purchases Breezehome)
The Great Hall
The Great Hall is the main chamber of the keep and is where the Jarl holds court on his throne beyond the long tables and central fire pit. Check the shelves to the sides for all manner of books. There are balconies on the upper floor, accessed via the War Room, from which you can peer down. The head of Numinex adorns the great hall above the Jarl's throne. If you tell Lydia that you no longer require her services then she will return here and be sitting at one of the two large tables. Once Breezehome is purchased however, she will go there instead.
Two large tables and an even bigger fireplace are where the Jarl’s servants prepare the feasts of the long table.
Servant's Bedroom and Storage (Lower)
A rough-hewn, rock-walled chamber where the servant sleeps. There is a storage room behind the door.
In this laboratory, the Court Wizard Farengar mixes concoctions and conducts research into the mysteries of the dragons' return. His bedroom and a small library are behind his main study. An Alchemy Lab and an Arcane Enchanter are available in here.
This is where the Jarl and his advisors discuss matters of state, poring over the Civil War map near the book-lined shelves. When needed, an Imperial Legate also plans from this location.
Exit onto the Great Porch if you want an impressive view to the north. According to legend, the dragon Numinex was trapped here. The old trap itself will prove itself useful once more when capturing Odahviing as part of the Main Questline.
This is the private quarters of the Jarl, and entering here without invitation results in you being removed, facing a fine, or worse. However, an Unusual Gem can be found here that pertains to Side Quest: "No Stone Unturned." The book Lost Legends is on a bookshelf in one of he side rooms off the dining room – this grants the "Forbidden Legend" main quest. In the same room on the table is the book Before the Ages of Man – when read, this improves Illusion.
Proventus Avenicci's Chambers
Note the display case; it usually has something valuable inside.
The Jarl’s brother, Hrongar sleeps here. The study desk has shelves with books on them.
There are three connected chambers here: a dining area, bedroom, and book-filled study.
- Ebony Blade – behind the whispering door.
- Before the Ages of Man (Illusion) – in the Jarl's Quarters.
- A Stone of Barenziah in the Jarl's quarters. Taking the gem may give the Dragonborn a bounty of 250 .
- Amulet of Zenithar in Hrongar's bedroom – end table on the right side of the bed.
- An Explorer's Guide to Skyrim, on a bookcase behind the map table at the top of the stairs behind the Jarl's throne.
- The Aetherium Wars – Farengar Secret-Fire's library.DG
- The Legend of Red Eagle – Farengar Secret-Fire's library.
- Lost Legends – Farengar Secret-Fires's library.
- Elven Sword in a display case on the right of the Great Hall. Master locked.
- A Whiterun Guard's shield and armor can be found in a display case in the Jarl's Quarters.
Dragonsreach houses a cooking pot, used for creating health and stamina recovery foods. As with most places in the game, after missions are completed that help the occupants, most of the food, cutlery, and books in Dragonsreach can be taken freely without worry of stealing.
Dragonsreach's Wizard, Farengar Secret-Fire, has an Alchemy Lab and Arcane Enchanter available for constant use with creating potions and enchanting items. Farengar sells all manner of valuable Spell Tomes and Mage Robes.
- Despite being Housecarl to Balgruuf and an overall important figure within Dragonsreach, Irileth does not have a bedroom of her own and instead spends all of her time standing in the Great Hall.
- Dragonsreach's design resembles and is possibly inspired by the design of Norse Stave Churches. These buildings had timber and beam structures and repeated the staves up to a raised roof.
- Beneath the bridge leading to the front doors of Dragonsreach, there is a skeleton underneath, containing a few gold that respawns after a few days. The story of this skeleton is unknown. This skeleton can be manipulated through necromantic spells.
- The shadow scheme of the Great Hall is a curiosity, as the fire pit casts no shadows at all while in the entrance area, upon entering the building, shadows are cast with no apparent light source.
- In the Jarl's Quarters there is an Elven Sword that can be taken from inside a master-locked display case as early as level one.
- Dragonsreach's design resembles also Meduseld, the great hall on top of the hill of Edoras in The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. Expanding on this, the hall was said to be 'thatched with gold', and Dragonsreach's roof shows much golden colouring. Also, Whiterun and Rohan share a similar emblem: a horse.
- Dragonsreach appears in the trailer for The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard as Harkon narrates the Tyranny of the Sun, showing the sun being blocked out and darkness descending over the keep.
- The Great Porch is the only area within Dragonsreach that can be fast-traveled from. It is also the only area within Dragonsreach to feature environmental music.
- It is possible that after using the door, the Dragonborn cannot leave. It is recommended to create a save before entering.
- It is possible the Dragonborn may be attacked after becoming Thane.
- Solution: Commit another crime and pay off the bounty.
- Sometimes when The Dragonborn enters Dragonsreach, all NPCs become hostile for no reason.
- Solution: Commit a crime and pay it off or wait for 24 hours.
- Shooting arrows at the steps in front of the Jarl's throne causes them disappear to through him.
- When one enters Jarl's Quarters, head up the stairs. The Dragonborn and NPC's will become invisible.
Sometimes, when fast traveling to Dragonsreach the Dragonborn will spawn underneath the floor in the pool underneath the bridge.
- Swim up through the floor to escape.
- Vampire Lords can use Vampiric Grip to throw NPCs off of the Great Porch. This effectively removes essential NPC's from the game, as they cannot return or be retrieved.
- Upon exiting from the Enchanting interface in Farengar's quarters, the menu might disappear without returning control to the player. Pausing and unpausing should solve it.
- If one talks to the guard on the Great Porch practicing his archery skills as he draws an arrow, he may stop firing and freeze. He will still respond when spoken to, however. Reloading or leaving and re-entering the Great Porch should resolve this. Waiting, however will not.