Lotta: The Capital City of Estalia

Lotta, on its island in the middle of Lake Jatta, dates back to the ealiest years of Estalia (at least to the early AD era, when it was mentioned briefly by Ptolemy, although his references were totally wrong -- he mistook this for Atlantis). The island is hilly to the west, but swampy to the east, and in fact in that area bears a resemblance to Venice or Amsterdam with lots of canals instead of streets. There are basically four sections: (1) Old Town (ca. 1550), around the Market Square, (2) The Warren, an ancient site, dating back to pre-medieval times, site of the original town and now a 'slum', (3) New Town, built after 1700 in reclaimed marshland, and (4) West Ward, south of the Royal Palace, where the Great Temple is located and the causeway/bridge to Hanssolu that was contructed in 1682, as was the very fine Westgate. The town walls are now incomplete, much torn down, many never finished, except mainly along the west side of the Grand Canal. The latter was embanked and squared up in 1812 by Archduke Flanl-Mmop'lud in a T-shaped pattern, following original channels, and he had warehouses and fine stone merchant houses (paid for by them) built along its banks.

This is basically a schematic map, not drawn to scale and with 'straightened-out' delineations of streets and canals (hardly an A-to-Z). Descriptions of The Citadel, The Lord Mayor's Residence, The Beacon, Westgate, the Guildhall, and Northgate Tower and Bridge are shown on this page. Other references are Chapter XIX, Lugo Poth's Great Temple, the Royal Palace, and The Morag Hotel. The Royal Prison north of the Temple is for heretics and political offenders, not for common felons, who are jailed next to the Killing Yard Square. The whole island is actually something like five miles wide, so you have to 'shrink' the city plan itself into a smaller area in the center (the marshes, for example, are much bigger than shown, and the Citadel, etc. are way above scale). This is justifiable in the same sense as a London Tube or New York Subway map is. The light green areas surrounded by orange buildings, for example, represent residential squares. "New Town" is not worth showing, and "The Warren" is too complicated, for the purposes of this web site; "Old Town" should be squished up to the north, and "New Town" shown as larger. This is a Tourist Map! Someday, we might exhibit a more comprehensive and accurate plan of this fascinating city on this web site, since there are many historic buildings not shown.

The Lord Mayor's Residence. Town walls are at the northwest and southeast sides. The principal city square (Killing Yard), apart from the market square farther to the west in the city, is here, and is the basic center of government.The sides facing north and east are the primary milieu for His Honor, including some private offices and a Very Secret Privy Court (for trials we don't want to mention).City Hall, or whatever you want to call it, is across the square, as are the courts and temple.

It is a fairly small building for its importance, only measuring about 100 by 90 feet, and only two stories tall for the most part. It is, however, built of beautifully squared ashlar limestone blocks, and is an impressive and pleasing building though not awe-inspiring. The lake front with its four large oriel window and the great tower is rather impressive. To approach the city from this direction across the lake is aesthetically inspiring.

In no way should this be considered a 'castle', as it has practically no defences at all apart from some perfunctory parapets and arrow loops.

Apart from the Lord Mayor's suite in the tower, there are also seven bedrooms, not including the guest suite, which are all designated for administrative officials. There is some 'martial' stuff in the gatehouse (but that includes the housekeeping family); Captain is actually the High Sheriff, an honorary post not an active one.

Most of the building dates from the late 17th Century, remodelled a hundred years later. It was then redesigned by an itinerant English architect who had not succeeded that well in his own country because he was out of date in his designs, but did well here in Estalia. His name was George Garradge, and his influence is well illustrated by works in other places in the country (mainly modifications and improvements). His main art was in improving plumbing and putting in sash windows.

The Citadel. The ancient citadel of Lotta is located on a craggy hill on the south side of the island, with marshes to east and west, the lake to the south, and the city to the north. The site slopes down from southwest to northeast (from the keep at the high point to the east battery at the low point). Arrowhead bastion (18th C.) overlooks The Warren (the medieval slum of the city), whereas the medieval great gatehouse (15th C.) faces into the city proper at the bottom of Cross Street. The Keep is a very tall watch tower, with a beacon at the top -- it was also built in the 15th Century; apart from the lines of the curtain walls, most of the citadel was built in the 18th Century. These buildings house the Royal Militia, the only 'official' army in Estalia (not counting militias who inhabit the other government fortresses in the country). The Royal Militia is an elite infantry troup whose main function is ceremonial -- they wear very colorful uniforms -- but are also very highly trained as commandos and are assigned as small units of Sextiments (one officer and five troops) to various places such as Fort Quadron. Their principal training grounds are located north of Grollshec Castle, in a 'secret' area in the Lignapp Hills not disclosed on the map.

The Beacon Tower is a simple octagonal structure consisting of a spiral staircase with a gallery round it at each level that rises more than 90 feet tall, with a lighthouse at the top. It was built at the end of a stone quay constructed in 1812 when the ferry terminal and official port was created west of the inlet where the original landing area for the city existed from time immemorial to the east of it. At the same time the "Grand Canal" was embanked (there was always a channel here that went almost through the entire island) and its entrance bridged over, leading to the Warren of the Old Town. The south side of that bridge carries a high wall with no parapet, but with gun-loops along its whole length all the way to a small square medieval tower (now a lock-up) that was the original watch tower for the entrance to the landing.
Northgate and Bridge. The gatehouse is medieval (ca 1450) and orginally led directly into the 'Old City'. In 1812 this strip of land was cut through to create the Grand Canal (which is fifty feet wide) and a bridge constructed leading into the high street toward Market Square. Four shops and a pub were built along the south side of the bridge and the north side is an embattled parapet wall. One would never think one was on a bridge while crossing it. The gatehouse is headquarters of the city constabulary. Along the lake shore are two quays for landing goods and supplies for the markets. The 'customs house' is misnamed; actually, it is a warehouse for valuable imports such as jewelry, tea, and snuff.
Westgate. The gatehouse was built in the late 17th Century along with the causeway to Hanssolu (which has four bridge spans along its length, two being drawbridges). An office called Lord Guardian of the Bridge was conferred on the builder, one Sir Pollo Pillip, of the Hans League (see also below), whose descendants still bear the title and live in the Barbican. There are four gates spanning the road, with a couryard and small boat landing in the middle. Over the main gate is a Great Hall, used as the city's guild hall, a Great Chamber for private meetings, and a museum at the top housing private collections of miscellany willed to the place by various guild members. The ground floor level consists of guard and garrison chambers, cellarage, and a small prison for civil prisoners (non-felons charged with financial and trade defalcations -- although the subterranean dungeon is unpleasant enough). There is a sort of 'inner barbican' inside the town, which has the entry stair to the Great Hall, an anteroom over the kitchen cellar, and an open podium at the highest level that is used to make announcements affecting city business. The whole structure barely survived a movement in the 1870s to have it torn down as an obstacle to traffic; the Lord Guardian of the time cowed the councilmen behind the move by hiring a tribe of Linzonians whom he set upon them, and the legislation was unanimously voted down. Still, the descendants of those Linzonians are now the Westgate garrison, and wear the badge of a crossed trident and tomahawk to this day, indeed they are the Ghurkas of Lotta, managing all the defenses. The town-wall stretch from the royal palace to the ferry terminal is particulary impressive and well-preserved.

Westisle. Not far from Westgate, along the Hanssolu Bridge, is a small island, which has had another gatehouse/castle and some houses built on it, contemporaneous with the rest of this construction; this can be regarded as the true barbican to the city, and is actually under a separate administration, known as the Hans League, who built the bridge and retained this islet as their domain; it is in effect the main western defense of the city and is staffed by mercenary soldiers of the Hans Regiment. The plan is almost identical on its western side as the Westgate.

Below is an expanded view of the 'castle'.
The Guildhall. Right at the entrance to the Grand Canal is the old Guild Hall, or merchants' headquarters. It has its own private quay facing down toward the old landing. This building dates back to about 1490, but was extensively renovated in 1812. The square north of it is where most of the rich merchant dwellings are located. The Guildhall is basically a three-storied structure with three large 'great halls' -- the ground floor being the trading hall or 'stock exchange', above that the merchants' tunnel-vaulted dining and assembly room, and at top the magnificently rib-vaulted Board Room. There are various offices in the building, but no residence areas (servants live in the building to the west, containing other service areas as well, alongside the canal).