The Drachen's Iron Heart
Population: 25,000 (native residents); 75,000 (day-to-day)
The riverport city of Altamira is far away from the ravages of the war with Montaigne and the bleeding throats of the gubenadores. It has been called the most peaceful place in Castille, where the simplicity of rural bliss ease rigors of daily life. Altamira’s unpaved streets evoke a lost age, when matters of love and sin were young, and man’s innocence had yet to end.
Altamira is nestled within the far western cradle of La Selva de Fendes, at the northernmost edge of Rancho Soldano. The area was forever changed in the twelfth century, when the High King of Castille decided to establish a riverport for trade with the Eisen, Montaigne, and Vodacce. Early trade flourished, and a small township grew around the docks, followed shortly by an expanded trade center. Today, Altamira is one of mainland Théah’s chief mercantile hubs, hosting buyers and sellers from all across the continent. It is the home of the famed de Cordoba family, whose commercial and money-lending interests have shaped modern Castille’s economy. The family owns the Altamira docks and everything within easy sighting distance (save the University; see below), and commands a slice of every penny made in every shop in town (commonly 1 doubloon [5 Guilders] for every 10 that exchange hands). The de Cordoba family has many other interests in Altamira as well. Their shipwrights specialize in small, shallow-water craft, keeping them out of competition with the Orduño craftsmen of La Pasiega, and deriving a healthy dividend from the regular traffic passing along the Great River. They also own many of the deeds to businesses, private homes, and other buildings in town, ensuring that they receive a constant influx of money as the city grows. Finally, they also own and operate the local bullfighting arena, La Venganza, named after its most famous bull.
Paseo Largo (“The Long Walk”)
A long line of shops, merchant courtyards, and flea markets stands behind Altamira’s riverside docks. These outlets are known for the wide variety of products they offer, featuring food and drink, crafts, services, and souvenirs from all across the known world. Except for the Vaticine guard station (where import and export shipments are inspected), it is rare to find anything strictly Castillian along Paseo Largo. But the attitude here — unlike the paranoid stalls of Vodacce’s merchant quarters or the stuffy arrogance of the Vendel ports – is purely Castillian. Prices are fair, quality is high, and service is second to none. Browsing is not only accepted but encouraged, and smiles adorn the faces of everyone who lives here. The stores of Paseo Largo all recognize siesta, and people often visit the boardwalk as an afternoon distraction. Fireworks, free lunches within the large plazas between shops, and children’s games are all common during this time. Many of Paseo Largo’s store owners even offer gifts to their patrons during siesta.
The Guild of San Marcos
This branch of the Théan Swordsman’s Guild is one of the most frequently-visited centers in Paseo Largo. Recently established by Eduardo Montevada, a savvy man who holds several seats in the guild (and has for many years), this office handles matters in Montaigne, Castille, Vodacce, and Eisen. Its central location helped to establish the Guild of San Marcos, but their fair and courteous service ensured their popularity amongst the duelists of Théah. Today, the Guild of San Marcos is widely considered one of the world’s foremost bastions of gentlemanly competition.
La Universitad de Arciniega
Centered within Altamira – between Paseo Largo and the private ranches that form the city’s inner half – the famed University of Arciniega features several well-stocked laboratories and one of the most comprehensive libraries in all of Théah (especially concerning matters of mathematics and the natural sciences). The tallest, most profoundly inspiring cathedral in Rancho Soldano. La Trinedad (“The Trinity”) strikes strikes into the sky’s heart at over one hundred and fifty feet, with three separate bell towers decorated with sculpted statues of the first Three Prophets, surrounding an immense Vaticine cross. The university’s founder and former headmaster, Alvara Arciniega, is currently in hiding from the Inquisition.
Centro del Mundo
The Montaigne call Charouse the center of the world, but Castillians steadfastly disagree. For natives of the central basin, Altamira is home to everyone – even those who reside elsewhere. Every major family maintains a private ranch here, including the royal Sandovals (whose property extends from the forest’s edge across El Lago del Reyes, the Lake of Kings). The royal family takes several months here each year, hunting in the nearby forests and visiting with their “extended family”, the people of Altamira.