The ancient temple is located east of Markarth atop a mountain. It can only be reached by going through Karthspire surrounded by Forsworn. The path leading to the temple is full of puzzles and traps that can be solved or disabled only by a Dragonborn.
In 1E 2804, an event called the Winterhold Rebellion took place in protest against forced conscription, which was being imposed on the populace. The following year the city of Winterhold was sacked, this prompted the citizens to lay siege to the Sky Haven Temple. The siege was lifted after the accession of Reman II as Emperor.
Emperor Reman II permitted the construction of Alduin's Wall in Sky Haven Temple in 1E 2812. Its purpose was to record the accumulated dragonlore and prophecy that the Akaviri Dragonguard possessed at the time. Given that Alduin's return was inevitable, they believed that this was their gift to those who came after them.
Craftsmen from temples across the Empire were called upon to work on the wall, and after six years it was completed. Emperor Reman II visited the temple to officially dedicate the wall. The Blood Seal outside the temple was consecrated in the presence of all the Akaviri Dragonguard of Skyrim. This allowed the temple to be sealed, only ever to be opened by a Dragonborn. As time went by and the Dragonguard fell into obscurity, the temple fell into a state of disrepair.
Upon arrival, the temple is dark and decrepit with only a few bare furnishings. Sections within the temple include a dining area, an armory and sleeping quarters.
A large mural called Alduin's Wall dominates the central chamber. This wall, built by the ancient Blades, prophesied several key events in Tamriel such as the Dragon War, Battle of Red Mountain, Oblivion Crisis, Great War, Skyrim Civil War and the return of Alduin. The prophecy that is foretold through Alduin's Wall is seen in the Elder Scrolls.
The bookshelves next to Alduin's Wall have many unique and interesting volumes on both dragons and the Blades.
The courtyard can be accessed from within the temple. The courtyard itself is fairly sparse, with several trees and some practice dummies used for training.
- Full set of Blades Armor – inside the chest in the armory.
- 6x Blades Swords – in the same room with Blades Armor and Dragonbane.
- Dragonbane – A unique Blades sword found on a wooden table in the armory.
- Mace Etiquette (One-Handed) – on the table next to Dragonbane.
- On rare occasions, a dragon may attack the courtyard. Esbern, Delphine and any followers recruited into the Blades will help fight it.
- When arriving for the first time at Sky Haven Temple, items can be picked up normally. However, if taken afterwards and before achieving the rebuilding of the Blades, they will be labeled as stolen.
- The temple does not receive any upgrades until the Dragonborn has spoken to Paarthurnax.
- It has a similar layout to Cloud Ruler Temple, the Blades' stronghold in Cyrodiil.
- It is impossible to reach the temple courtyard by climbing up the side of the mountain before the completion of the quest "Alduin's Wall." An invisible barrier surrounds the entire courtyard.
- If somehow the Dragonborn gets into the temple early (walking through wall glitch), everything will be considered as an owned item. Taking anything will be considered theft and will be taken away if caught by guards.
- Despite the fact that Sky Haven Temple was built by the Akaviri, followers may use the same dialogue as they would in an old Nordic ruin.
- The Sneak perk "Light Foot" does not affect pressure plates in Sky Haven Temple.
- The outer courtyard is the only area where music will play.
- Pressure plates are located to the right of the blood seal, near the entrance of the temple, similar to the ones found in the room containing the fire trap. Stepping on these appears to have no effect.
- Ivarstead or Riften. Even though it is a location in the Reach, once in the courtyard, the map may show that the Dragonborn is somewhere around
- When fighting a dragon in the courtyard, the dragon may only fly up and down instead of flying horizontally.
- If a map marker is placed at the Sky Haven Temple before the quest has been completed, the compass marker will not point to the correct direction.
- If someone is attacked or killed here by the Dragonborn, a bounty in The Rift may occur, despite the temple being located in the Reach.
- On a very rare occasion, two Blades may be found dead on the floor.
- Under certain circumstances, Sky Haven Temple will be inaccessible. The Temple doors can still be interacted with and they will move as do other doors when they are activated, but no loading screen will appear, and entry to the inner sanctum (containing Esbern, Delphine, and Alduin's Wall) will be impossible. This usually occurs after usage of console commands to bypass having to kill Paarthurnax.
- If the Dragonborn had placed any items in a container in Sky Haven Temple, these items will be later marked as stolen if the Dragonborn chooses not to kill Paarthurnax when prompted by Delphine and Esbern.