Vorbarr Sultana is the capital of Barrayar and of the Barrayaran Imperium. The city is a major political, economic, cultural and scientific centre in Barrayar and within the Empire. It's also the largest city on Barrayar, having a southern hill country around its immediate backwards and lying into a fertile plain.The city straddles a broad silver river, with the oldest government buildings, ancient converted fortresses most of them, hugging the bluffs and high points commanding the river's edge. The modern city spills back from them to the north and south between the old city centre (Cavanserai and surrounding boroughs) and the space-port.
Its population is 12,403,440. Vorbarr Sultana is situated on the Star River in the Vorbarra District. In the course of its history the city has served as the capital of a progression of polities, from the independent district of Counts Vorbarra to the current interplanetary Barrayaran Empire.
The city is served by an extensive transit network, which includes four spaceports, railway terminals, and one of the deepest underground metro systems in the Nexus.
Officially titled the City of Vorbarr Sultana, it contains both the Imperial Residence and Vorhartung Castle, where the Council of Counts and the Council of Ministers meet in session. Universities, various ministries, the Imperial Service Headquarters, the Imperial Military Hospital and Imperial Security Headquarters are also located in the capital. Each of the sixty District Counts had a official residence in the city. The city straddles a broad silver river, with the oldest government buildings, ancient converted fortresses most of them, hugging the bluffs and high points commanding the river's edge. The modern city spills back from them to the north and south between the old city centre (Caravanserai and surrounding boroughs) and the space-port.
Vorbarr Sultana is situated on the banks of the Star River, which flows for over 650 km through the Northern Banks in Northern Continent. 42 bridges span the river and its canals within the city's limits. The width of Vorbarr Sultana from south to north is 26.4 km, and the length from east to west is 35.5 km.
Vorbarr Sultana has a humid continental climate and somewhat humid summers, and long, cold winters. Typical high temperatures in the warm summer months are around a comfortable 20°C. In the winter, temperatures normally drop to approximately −10 °C, though there can be periods of warmth with temperatures rising above 0°C. Snow (present for 3–5 months a year) typically begins to fall at the middle of autumn and melts by early spring.
Architecture and landscapes Edit
The area around the Great Square is called the Old Town; the Old Town is bisected by the Star River, and includes several Vor Houses and University District. Newer city extends in rings around it for a couple dozen kilometres. The Prime Minister's office overlooks the Great Square.
Flowing west to east is the Star River. Just above the point where ordinary ships could no longer travel upriver, due to waterfalls and rapids, there is a dam with locks below it. Just past the locks is the Star Bridge. To the north of the river the Imperial Military Hospital is a large complex of buildings that overlook the river, not far from Vorbretten House overlooks the Star Bridge. In the northern suburbs lie the military shuttleport.
On the south side of the river, University of Vorbarr Sultana is in the west, with the University District nearby. Vorhartung Castle is not far the Great Square, both on the eastern side of the Old Town. The Caravanserai is a "stretched" walk to the south-west of the Great Square. Between the Caravanserai and the Vorhartung Castle there is the Imperial Residence. Not far from the Residence lies the main Imperial Security Headquarters building is to the east, south side, about a kilometre downstream from the Star Bridge. Vorhartung Castle faces modern government buildings, particularly ministries, which are on the most internal of the modern rings, east side (East Old End District, Boulevard Ring), while the Imperial Service Headquarters is to the west, on the edge between the Old Town and the most internal modern ring.
Vorbarr Sultana's architecture is well renowned. Time of Isolation Vorbarr Sultana's design was of concentric walls and intersecting radial thoroughfares. The city's appearance had not changed much by the end of Time of Isolation. Houses were made of pine and spruce logs, with shingled roofs covered by birch bark.
The overall appearance of the city changed drastically during Dorca and Yuri's Reigns, especially as a result of Yuri Vorbarra's large-scale effort to modernize Vorbarr Sultana. Yuri's plans for the city included a network of broad avenues and roadways, some of them over eight lanes wide, which, while greatly simplifying movement through the city, were constructed at the expense of a great number of historical buildings and districts.
Perhaps the most recognizable contributions of the Yuri's period are the so-called Five Sisters, comprising five massive skyscrapers scattered throughout the city at about an equal distance from the Imperial Residence. All now four towers can be seen from most high points in the city; they are among the tallest constructions in central Vorbarr Sultana. The Yuri-era constructions, most of them visible in the central part of the city, are massive and usually ornamented with classical or feudal motifs. Vorbarr Sultana has the most important stadium on the planet, one of the Vorrutyer the Mad Architect's best efforts.
There are 72 parks and 12 gardens in Vorbarr Sultana, and 4 university botanic gardens. There are also 500 square kilometres of green zones.
Road system Edit
Vorbarr Sultana's road system is centred roughly around the city centre at the heart of the city. From there, roads generally span outwards to intersect with a sequence of circular roads ("rings") or, departing from the centre, span outside, in direction of cardinal points. Intersections between innermost rings and "cardinal roads" are large squares.
- The first and innermost major ring, Boulevard Ring, is built near the former location of the Time of Isolation city walls around what used to be called Old Town.
- The second primary ring, located outside the bell end of the Boulevard Ring, is the Golden Ring. Like the Boulevard Ring, the Golden Ring follows the path of a Time of Isolation wall that used to encompass the external part of Vorbarr Sultana.
- The Third and the Fourth rings are high-speed free-ways.
- The outermost ring within Vorbarr Sultana is the Transport Ring Road, which forms the approximate boundary of the inner city, excluding the contemporary suburbs, was built by Emperor Ezar.
Five Sisters Edit
The "Five Sisters" is the name given to a group of Vorbarr Sultana skyscrapers designed in the Yuri's era. They were built from 2861 to 2870, in an elaborate combination of Gothic styles.
The five are: Imperial Security Headquarters, Ministry of Political Education (now destroyed), the Imperial Service Headquarters, the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the main building of the Vorbarr Sultana Imperial University.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs: the building is 172 meter high, with 27 story; it was built between 2862 and 2867 and overseen by Dono Vorrutyer, Currently, it houses offices for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry is covered by a light external stone wall with projecting pilasters and pylons. Its interior is decorated with stones and metals.
Vorbarr Sultana Metro Edit
The Vorbarr Sultana Metropolitan Underground Bubble-Car Network System is a public rapid transit system serving Vorbarr Sultana and parts of the surrounding District Provinces: Chernyzem, Nedvizhimost Ezara, Starymost. The system serves 850 stations and has 1,002 kilometres of track, 52% of which is above ground. The network has expanded to 23 lines. The Vorbarr Sultana Bubble-Car system, nowadays a state-owned enterprise, was founded into 2930s. Each line is identified by a name, a number and a colour. The upcoming station is announced by a male voice.
Administrative divisions and government Edit
Vorbarr Sultana is the seat of power for the Barrayaran Imperium. At the centre of the city, in the Central Administrative Borough, is the Imperial Residence, which houses the home of the Emperor of Barrayar. Vorbarr Sultana, like with any national capital, is also the host of all the foreign embassies and diplomats representing several nations. Since 2984, Vorbarr Sultana has been designated as one of three Special Urban Communities, being therefore part of the Vorbarra District but at the same time being directly administered by the Government of the Empire (i.e. by the Ministry of Interior).
The City of Vorbarr Sultana is divided into twelve administrative Boroughs, which are in turn subdivided into Districts. Both Boroughs and Districts are a subdivision of state administration. The entire city is headed by a Lord Governor; and is divided into 12 administrative boroughs and 120 districts.
The Lord Governor of the City of Vorbarr Sultana is the man in charge of the general government in Vorbarr Sultana. The Governor's office administers all city services, public property, police and fire protection, most public agencies, and enforces all city and Imperial laws within Vorbarr Sultana. The Lord Governor appoints a large number of officials, including Directors who head city departments, and his deputy mayors. The Governorship is entrusted to the family of Counts Vorbohn.
The Government of Vorbarr Sultana is the highest body of executive power in the city. It is competent to decide all questions of policy within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of Vorbarr Sultana.
The Grand Council is the municipal consultative college in parliament in Vorbarr Sultana. The city council's legislation can only be overridden by the Lord Governor and the Imperial government. It includes 25 members who are elected for a four year term: 15 are elected on a proportional party list basis among Vors and 10 on single-mandate guilds basis.
Ezarston EditEzarston (commonly known as "Aralsburg" or sometimes "Cordeliastown") is a district of south Vorbarr Sultana. Noted for its immensely expensive residential properties and its numerous educational institutions, it is one of the wealthiest districts in Barrayar. The district lies mostly to the south-south-west of the Imperial Residence, and is approximately bounded by Partisansbridge Street to the north, Xav Palace and Imperial Residence Road to the east, Goldenleaf Road to the south, and Captain Gottyan Street to the west. The area takes its name from the third all-Barrayaran Emperor.
Most of the area was originally owned by Lord Mikhail Vorbarra, a minor lord Vorbarra, who sold it to the Emperor, then represented by his Guardians Lord and Lady Vorkosigan. Regent Lord Vorkosigan developed the area in the mid 2910s, entrusting the opera to famous urban architects headed by Thomas Cunts. Ezarston is characterised by grand terraces of white stucco houses, and is focused on Xav's Square.
It was built from the beginning in order to be the Vorbarr Sultana's most fashionable residential districts, and remains so to this day. Several embassies are located in the area, especially in Xav's Square, where there is the Betan Embassy as well as the Embassy of Escobar. Most of the largest houses are residences or townhouses for the country gentry and aristocratic Vor class, but other buildings are of restricted uses, such as charity headquarters, as well as educational and professional institutions, most of them created, founded or established during the Vorkosigan Regency, upon the Cordelia Vorkosigan's long-standing impulse: many of them are facilities directly belong to the Imperial Academy of Sciences, but also private institutions founded upon Imperial "suggestion" and support.
Vorbarra District Capitol Edit
The Vorbarra District Capitol is located north of Capitol Avenue and south of Krasny Estate, at the northern margins of Vorbarr Sultana, the capital of Vorbarra District. The building houses the District Consultative Council, as well as the main offices of the Vorbarra District Government and the hall for government meetings. The District High Court sits in a different building.
The building is one of the largest "Northern Plains Classical Movement" style buildings. The exterior is of marble from North Hill, Vorbarra District and Dendarii granite from Westerly Rock, Vorkosigan District. The building is roughly rectangular, the interior spaces organized around two open interior courts that run vertically to large skylights. In the centre is a third circular open rotunda beneath the dome. The building's ornately decorated façades display statuary and include several statues, medallions and carved tympani over the doors (except the East, which only has statues). The statues are of Counts Vorbarra (i.e. of Barrayaran Emperors, so far) and other people important to the District's history, as well as people who give fame to the District, such as famous Admiral Prince Xav Vorbarra; interestingly, all Counts Vorbarra are displayed in their District robes and House uniform, even dethroned Emperors/Counts. Emperor Yuri's statue is the third-last statue of the Count Series.
There are 48 niches for sculpture, (ten of which are still empty). The last one added was that of Emperor Gregor Vorbarra, Emperor Serg Vorbarra's father. There are high relief scenes from the District's history in the 16 tympani above the doors; the carving above the main south door hosts the Vorbarra's family badge. The interior floors use white marble and red slate from the District. The statues, medallions, and tympani are grouped by period, starting from the main door's left and continuing in a clock-wise direction.
The central domed tower is distinctive. The dome itself is 12 metres high; on top of that is a cupola 16 metres in height, and the drum below is 22 metres, making the drum taller than the 22 metres height of the main walls. The overall height of the tower is 60 metres.
At the exterior base of the dome are 9 statues in three groups representing Spirituality, Justice and Majesty, Honour, Nobility and Force/War, Agriculture, Commerce and Music. The interior has two matching ornate open stairwells and all of the building interior is painted in a black and white scheme, reproducing the Vorbarra's colours.
Imperial Service Vorbarr Sultana Fire Division Edit
The Imperial Service Vorbarr Sultana Fire Division, is an Imperial Service unit which serves as the fire service for Vorbarr Sultana and certain surrounding areas. The Brigade's main area of responsibility is the urban area of Vorbarr Sultana, including the town of Ernykadratograd, see of the Imperial Military Academy. It also serves some other military locations located in the Vorbarra District. The other departments of the Vorbarra District, as well as the other areas of the Empire have their own fire brigades.
The Division is a unit of the Engineering Arm and the fire-fighters are therefore sappers. With 24,570 fir-sappers, it is one of the largest fire corps in the Empire. The Brigade is placed at the disposal of the Lord Governor of the City of Vorbarr Sultana. Its motto is "Save or Perish". Nearly half of all candidates fail the Division's rigorous training program.
The Division Executive staff is divided into two areas that include a civilian Fire Commissioner who serves as the Governor's deputy and as responsible of central services such as logistics, medical and material supplies, and the Major General (entrusted of the unique title of "Fire General") who serves as the operational and executive leader. The current Fire Commissioner is Paul Albaton.
The department is organized into 12 Fire Regiments, each headed by a Colonel and each responsible of a Borough. Within each Battalion are 10 Companies, each led by a Captain: the Regimental Staff is led by a Major. Each Company consists of three Stations and contains 180–200 sappers. Each Station (led by a Lieutenant) is garrisoned by three Squads, each led by a Warrant Officer or by an Ensign, the latter acting as a Station Deputy Chief. The Company is the basic element, and organizes its 9 Squads along the three tours of duty (8 standard hours and 54 standard minutes each). In one tour, each company is commanded by a Lieutenant (Night and Afternoon) or by the Captain (Morning): at any given time, an officer is in charge and there is at least Squad in each Station; in turn, the Station as a whole can be commanded by the Station Lieutenant or by the most senior Squad Leader (Ensign or Warrant Officer) who is present. When the Station Lieutenant is in charge of the whole Company, its Station is always led by his deputy, an Ensign.