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Shining City

Behold! Oscagne intoned quite formally. Behold the seat of beauty and truth! Behold the home of wisdom and power! Behold fire-domed Matherion, the centre of the world!

No matter what age its built in (bronzemiddle, modern orcrystal) the Shining City is awesome, perhaps the best city to live in anywhere on the world. The Shining City is usuallypurpose built from the word Go, not a disorderlyMega Citythat grew out of a settlement over hundreds of years. From the air, neat geometric patterns will be visible (not just grids, but circles, triangles, or fantastic symbols that create powerfulGeometric Magic), and on the ground each and every building integrates seamlessly into a greater overall style. Above all, the Shining City is

On approach, expect it to be shown with lots and

of artful shafts of sunlight that gleam off thesimple yet elegant white buildings; at night it willshine like a neon angel. It will have lots of soaring towers, and citizens of the Shining City never suffer from acrophobia.

The Shining City is usually the capital toThe Federation, has the headquarters ofHeroes Unlimited, or is home to the heroes favoriteReasonable Authority Figure. Because of its size it likely wont have thekooky and cozy feel of a small town, or thethe gentle pace of the countryside, but the inhabitants will at least be polite if not friendly, full of energy, and usually pursuing activities of high culture and art. If thatsounds a bit snobby, then youve guessed right, the inhabitants (and often times the rulers) of the Shining City are culturally arrogant and perhapsunhealthily insular.

Thematically, it will serve as an urbanbeacon of hopefor whatmankind can buildwhen itworks together.And for these reasons it tends to make viewers feel at home there andplayers feel protective.However,for those who have a more cynical view of humanity, it can degenerate into aSoiled City on a Hill.

In its idealistic form, its a trope that has days of much greater popularity; just asArcadiarises in popularity the more people live in cities, the Shining City hits its peaks when more people live in the countryside.

Not surprisingly, the bad guys want to destroy or conquer it. Reasons can be simple ambition orSlobs vs. Snobsbrand jealousy, this one is common when the bad guys operate out of the Shining Citys antithesis, theCity Noir. Depending on the story, it may survive intact, get random but repairable property damage, orbe doomedtoburn like Troy.For extra fun, the bad guys forces will be represented as an evil dark cloud on the horizon, threatening to both literally and figuratively darken the Shining City. Boiled down to basics, its the urban equivalent of having a villain sayI Have You Now, My Pretty! to a city.

ItsShadowlandis prone to beThe Lost Woodsor other, even more inhospitable wilderness, but can also be the countryside as a place of ignorance, insularity, and sloth. Frequently the rest of the world isCrapsack Only by Comparison.

portrays Tokyo and other metropolis in the world being this way in the future. Calculating from the age of the daddy Nobita, it should have been within the 2000s…

is the most perfect city in the world, and a beacon of hope to those who wish for safety and a better life. Just looking at its white walls, you know it was created by magic rather than by mortal hands. The city and the surrounding countryside are safe from monsters and invading armies, every refugee who goes there is guaranteed housing and employment, the whole city is rationally planned with traffic control included, there are bustling markets, public bathhouses, and its all run by a charismatic leader who appears to be the messiah.

On the other hand, said leader is secretly a demon lord who drew out the monsters theyre running from, and can barely contain theBlood Lustof his demonic army, so who knows if the inhabitants will be safe for long.

, the city of Seiran is a huge pentagram city layout.

, Zeus shrine has a white-and-gold neo-classical aesthetic and sits on top of a giant plateau which is only accessible by an extremely long, steep staircase, setting it off from the surrounding scenery.

if often referred to as the Shining City or Golden Realm. This is usually accompanied by a number of grandiose claims like being the jewel of the nine worlds. Artistic portrayals usually have it be a city that is or looks like it is made of gold or a glowing, highly advanced city.

is frequently portrayed like this, especially in contrast to thethatBatmanlives in. Ironically, while Superman has a lot to do with the average Metropolitans attitude, what makes it

like a Shining City isadvanced technology.

has the classic example of Asgards citadel, with the implication of many more such cities. And then there was Krypton, which was similarly advanced (i.e. well intoCrystal Spires and Togasterritory).

Before it meddled with the Darkhold and imploded.

The Elysium version of the Smurf Village that appears in the

story Smurfing In Heaven is a village made entirely of gold. Unfortunately, Empath discovers that this is a magical illusion created by Ares the god of war.

; filled with gleaming white, gold domed buildings and spires, built upon and among impossibly highGhibli Hills, which are all connected by elegant walkways. There is even an elevated canal for ships, linking the seas with the Royal Palace. Its a shame that we only see it for a few minutes of the movie though.

is an interesting example, in that while it

be the Shining City, the gods plagues and Calibos have dragged the citizenry down into despair.

is as much aboutNew York Cityas it is about the dead victim, and speaks of the shining city New York once was and might be again.

: Theed City and Coruscant certainly qualify, as does the capital of Alderaan.

The Emerald City in the movie version of

literally shines, having a city-sized green halo in the first long shot.

The eponymousspace habitatElysium in

The moon-sizedSpace StationYorktown in

, even filmed in Dubai, which is listed below on the Real Life folder.

Minas Tirith (lit. tower of The Guard) is the settings Shining City (even though the outer wall, Othram, was depicted as black in the book). Minas Ithil (lit. tower of the Moon) was her sister and also a Shining City… until the Ringwraiths turned it into theWretched Hiveof pure evil known asMinas Morgul

(tower of Sorcery). Both were originally glorified guard-posts for Gondors original capital, the

Shining City of Osgiliath on the Anduin river. The Gondorian Civil War, Great Plague, and finally a sacking by an army of the first Uruk-Hai put an end to that status. Founding the new capital away from Osgiliath and the border with Mordor was unthinkable because it felt too much like admitting defeat, so the city of Minas Anor (City of the Sun) was renamed and put to that purpose.

still emit light, but its a a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing.

has theHidden Cityof Gondolin, the last free nation of the oldor in Middle-Earth and the fairest city ever constructed by the Elves in exile. Naturally, Morgoth gets it in the end.

also has the Lonely Mountain and its underground Dwarf kingdom of Erebor, which lies next to the adjacent and allied Northmen city of Dale. Both of these northern cities are easily as impressive as Minas Tirith.

Though not a city, the Ivory Tower in

qualifies on counts of being the Childlike Empress home… and

, theres the city of Kell; the prequels to

describe beautiful Vo Wacune, which doubled as aDoomed Hometownfor Polgara. In the same country is the capital of Arendia, Vo Mimbre, whose walls are sheathed in gold. Mandorallen gives a speech about it similar to the page quote, calling it the Queen of the World.

has Fire-domed Matherion, the capital of a continent-wide empire. Matherion is an exaggeration to the point of parody: the entire city is sheathed in mother-of-pearl, giving it a breathtaking iridescent gleam. But the cost of the shells is such that the empire goes into a mild recession every time a storm hits the city.

series has the capital city, Alera, for which the country is named. Actually all the great cities are described in these terms, Kalare is noted as a partial exception.

Romeis frequently described this way in the

books by the same author, both Yenking and Otrar are described in terms normally applicable to this trope; however, since theprotagonistof these books is Genghis Khan, the readers follow those attempting to destroy them.

The eponymous city ofBrandon Sandersons

is literally a shining city. Even its inhabitants shine. Of course, due to a few complications, it serves as more of athrough the course of the story.

series, which surrounds the White Tower and is surrounded by the Shining Walls. All the buildings were built ahead of time by master stonemasons in pretty shapes reminiscent of waves and seashells and such, and the White Tower in the middle is housing for the powerful Aes Sedai, an order of magic-users with great political influence. Also fits the snobbishness bit, since the Aes Sedai are rather arrogant.

Most Ogierbuilt cities count as well, though the most prominent ones are the aforementioned Tar Valon and Caemlyn. Cairhien would be an example, but its had an unfortunate tendency to be repeatedly pillaged in the books recent history.

The capital of the Mid-Galactic Empire in

byEdmond Hamiltonis built of glass upon shining silica cliffs above a silver sea. With a hot white sun like Canopus overhead the citizenry must have to wear shades.

certainly looks the part, even though its actually aWretched Hivefilled with decadent hedonists who take from the poor Districts without giving anything back and expect annual entertainment in the form of the eponymous games (i.e. gladiatorial battles to the death). Thefilmmakes it look even more spectacular, a sharp contrast to the poverty-stricken District 12.

s Ankh-Morpork is a very deliberate subversion of the thousands-of-years-old Shining City. Its been around for thousands of years, sure. It has citadels and towers and walls and palaces. But it shows its age and more importantly the lack of good flush plumbing and sewers, something Tolkien paid little attention to. The river is an open sewer that walks rather than flows, the streets are paved with…

…, the Tower of Art is a twisted wreck with bits falling off; the city walls are decrepit, covered in graffiti, and falling down, and its most unique claim to fame is its smell. Even Orcs would find their nasal equipment closing down in self-preservation. Played with in the sense that, despite the chaos and dilapidation, Ankh-Morpork still

by K.K. Savage, there is a shining astral city located literally on the suns surface. It is populated by highly evolved beings and changes shape all the time.

. This powerful city state floats in theEdge of Timeand serves as theAeon Legionsprimary base. Saturn City citizens enjoy eternal youth and basically have all the time they want to dedicate to partying. Given the silvery white metal architecture, it is also a literal example of this trope as well.

Tanelorn in the various works ofMichael Moorcockis the archetypal shining city: every world in the Multiverse seems to have its own version of it.

City; all cities everywhere are supposedly imperfect shadows of it. Its pretty nice in its own right, but Tir na Nog is one of the two shadows thats visible from Amber itself (the other is Rebma, at the bottom of the sea); its a shining spectral city in the sky which, in the moonlight, is

tangible enough to visit without falling through the floor. Just have someone standing by to get you out quick in case clouds come up.

This fits the level of love that the cast of

seems to have for their eponymous hometown, although protagonist Dwight Hendricks seems to be almost religious in his reverence.

are like this. The one we see most often,San Francisco(Star Fleet HQ), certainly qualifies.

The capitals of friendly worlds like Trill and Bajor are usually shown like this, too. More antagonistic or troublesome capitals, like those on Romulus and Cardassia, still manage to look impressive and imposing.

episode Muse, a poet in an alien Bronze Age society writes a play from the logs of a crashed shuttle, referring to this trope in the final words of his play.

will continue on her journey to the gleaming cities of Earth where peace reigns, and hatred has no home.

Camelot is portrayed as this whenMerlinfirst arrived there (the first shot of the city showsa beautiful castle bathed in sunlight). He quickly learnt thatits a dangerous place to live for magic users.

, its Shining Borough: Harlem is shown reverence even by the antagonists,

Copperhead, for whom Harlem is simply the place Luke Cage lives

The astronomically huge New Jerusalem, described in the, is a visionary Shining City frequently identified with Heaven itself. It has walls and streets of gold, foundations of gemstones, and twelve gates, each one carved of a single monstrous pearl. (Yes, THOSE pearly gates. The oysters are left to your imagination.) Trees of Life, like the one forbidden to Adam and Eve when they were expelled from Eden, here line the streets, and a river of Water of Life springs from the foot of Christs throne. The whole thing is cubical in shape and roughly as large, on a side, as the distance from Old Jerusalem to Rome. It specifically contains no temple because it doesnt need one, considering Who lives there.

the plot of the Mesoamerican-inspired Ixalan is the search for Orazca, an El Dorado-like city of gold built by the ancestors of the Sun Empire.

: Yu-Shan, the seat of power of Unconquered Sun and the Five Maidens. The center ofCelestial Bureaucracyruns by the myriad gods of Creation. The headquarter of the Sidereal Exalted. Its basically the Capitol of Creation itself, with the usual intrigues. ItsShadowlandis Malfeas the Demon City (a city thats also an individual), which used to rule it as its God-king.

Yu-Shan does also have areas of urban sprawl (typically the enormous slums populated by destitute gods whose domains have been lost or rendered largely irrelevant, or who have otherwise fallen from grace).

The city of Mera, capital of the Old Realm, also qualifies. The Imperial City is its closest counterpart during the Second Age.

provides Hestavar, a city on the Astral Sea where Pelor, Ioun, and Erathis (god of Sun, Knowledge, and Civilization, respectively) resides. Its also the afterlife for the followers of those gods. And it does have its share of intrigue.

is a megalopolis bigger than most material planets. It is the archetype on which all civilization is modeled and the physical embodiment of theLawful Neutralalignment. Like Hestavar, it is the home of several gods, including Abadar, the god of civilization, and the deceased Aroden, god of humans. Its builders and main inhabitants, the axiomites, are living mathematical concepts who pushed back the primal chaos of the Maelstrom and practically invented culture. It does have a seedy underside, thoughthe sewer-realm of Norgorber, the god of thieves and secrets.

provides a fair few of these, although, being thesort of settingit is, virtually all have since fallen, decayed or hide terrible secrets. Examples include the City of Seers on Prospero (razed by the Space Wolves); Eldar Craftworlds (home to the last remnants of a race so decadent it created the

); many Shrine Worlds of the Imperium, most notably Holy Terra itself, although all of those have sizableWretched Hiveslum zones, often underground; the Tau worlds; and many of the cities in the Realm of Ultramar (apart from areas on Calth and Macragge which are still rebuilding from the last wars fought on them).

to build grand temple-cities on the worlds they conquered in the name of the Emperor. After the Horus Heresy, those were almost all destroyed by Imperial loyalists. The Word Bearers still raise grand temple-cities, but they no longer fit this trope, being dedicated to theRuinous Powers of Chaos, and usually made of blackened wrought iron and obsidian. And covered inEvil Spikes of Evil.

, the Ninth Circle of Hell is Pandemonium, the capital of the Infernum, a symbol of all of demonkinds hopes and dreams, and the prize for whoever unites Hell under his claw. From the perspective of anyone else, of course, its the Ninth Circle of Hell, an impossible maze of streets between the palaces of the First Fallen, ringed by a river of black ice.

, Waterfall City is the Earthly headquarters of the Courts of Light. The streets are clean and green spaces well-maintained, the local economy revolves around art, entertainment and leisure, the wealth available through the Light funds social services that make Scandinavia look poor, and Dark magic has no presence. The only problem is that even with housing assistance and social services, people are getting priced out of living there because the city has no more room to grow, and the waitlists to get into the necessary programs are years long.

has Metru Nui and Artakha for theMatoran Universe, and Atero forBara Magna.

Sadly, all three were eventually destroyed, Metru Nui irreparably

, city sitting along in a world full of blast craters and crashed battleships.

, capital of theCitadel Council, definitely qualifies, even though its got…

Nos Astra on Illium and Milgrom on Bekenstein in

are these for theasariand humans respectively, but in typicalBioWarefashion they have dark undersides as well.

Based on the Prothean ruins, one can assume that their cities were like this as well. Of course, as revealed in the third game, they werent nearly as glorious and enlightened as Liara had always assumed,

forging an interstellarEmpireout of subject races and forcing them to adopt their doctrine

The series lore describes Alinor, theAltmericapital city of the Summerset Isles, as one. Impossibly tall vine-line buildings with swirling architecturerise high into the sky, where their glass/crystalline structures refract light to create rainbows in a manner reminiscent of insect wings.

has Mournhold, the massive capital city of the eponymous province visited in the

expansion. Its expressly called City of light. City of

– The Imperial City fits this perfectly.

Solitude. Capital of Skyrim, visible for miles from atop the rock arch its built on, and full of grand Imperial towers and manor houses.

Whiterun. Its a well kept, clean Nordic city. It is home to the largest castle in Skyrim (Dragonsreach) and has a very bright White Pinewood on Yellow Roof theme and can be seen from pretty much anywhere on the map if you get high enough.

This is largely the goal of city-building games, with you as its king/major/god/whatnot:

Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile

, the latter of which actually focuses on you building cities onAtlantis!

Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom

games allow a Cultural victory condition, where your entire civilization is so full of shining cities that everyone else cant help but feel awed.

What little we see of Upper Heng Sha in

fits this. It is impeccably built in afuturistic styleand is a major hub of Chinas augmentation industry. It is also the

games that we seein broad daylight. Shiny? Oh yes!

And Grand Chokmah, the Floating City. It is, if anything, even brighter and shinier than Baticul.

, even though we get to see very little of it, since the games are focused on traveling to the past.

Atlantiswas this as well, at least by ancient standards. On the other hand, Atlanteans maintained their secrecy by fielding a powerful navy that captured any ship that happened to get too close to Atlantis. The crews were allowed to live in the city, provided they never try to leave.

: Dalaran fits this trope closely, and while Shattrath doesnt fit the architectural aspects, the big beam of light emanating from the center of it is very shiny indeed.

has one for each playable race. The capital of Kryta for the humans, Divinitys Reach is essentially a positively massive fairy tale castle that never stopped growing, the Charr have the Black Citadel, which can best be described as a steampunk EPCOT, the Norn have Hoelbrak Lodge, the Sylvari have the Pale Tree, dominated by the light of what can only be described as their goddess, and the Asura have Rata-Sum, a massive, floating cube filled with technological and magical wonders.

Anor Londo, the City of the Gods in

, apart from being abandoned, seem to fit this perfectly.

Its a subversion – the shining part is an illusion created by Gwyndolin, and can be dispelled by killing the illusion of his sister Gwynevere. The sun will then dissapear from the city, leaving it in a creepy darkness which really lets you feel its aGhost Town.

was its worlds premier center of culture, finance, medicine and science and was the chosen city ofBaraas, thepersonification of cooperation.

This meant it was the last place standing when the rest of the world went to hell and very nearly took Laurentia with it.

, your goal as a Good god is to create cities so magnificent that your enemies willingly defect to your side. This usually makes for happy citizens, beautiful residences, abundant amenities, wildflowers and butterflies, and, sinceLight Is Good, a metropolis crafted from gleaming white marble.

: Jeuno is this, a shining neutral city-state in a central location between the three warring nations, with grand architecture and an opulent in-game soundtrack.

, theliterally translates to city of light within darkness.

, which was depopulated but has since become repopulated byThe Alliance.

: The location of Ashendel where the Elves live provides astunning view

, Starlight Point is a beacon of good and light whose ruler is an angelic warrior and whose government building is aliteral beacon

of light. Inside, its a bit of aSugar Bowlwith paid illusionists to build the citizens self-esteem and inspire them to do good deeds.

InTwistedCogsthe city of Milia is a downplayed version of this. It is bright, extremely clean (for thetime period), and a center of high class culture.

The self-styled city of Utopia inThe Chronicles of Utopia Volume II

is this in spades. The city is made from white stone and its main defensive wall contains a massive interconnected network of defensive and divine warding schemes to keep out its enemies. The city itself is ruled by an immortal golden dragon and is considered a center of learning and enlightened thought.

Canterlot, the capital city of Equestria in

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

, is named after Camelot andfor good measure.

The Crystal Empiremight be an even better example. Not only does it look pretty muchbut theAmplifier Artifactthat protects its borders is directly powered by the inhabitants happiness, andthat threatens it is personified as.

Subverted with the city of Ba Sing Se in

. Through the first season (and first half of season 2), its set up to be this – cueThe Reveal.

The American concept of building aCity on a Hill

, an American utopia based on Christian principles to serve as an example to the rest of the world. Its a reference to the Sermon on the Mount: Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do [men] light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

That analysis reflects more howRonald Reaganredefined John Winthrops original usage. When Winthrop said that, he meant to remind his followers that their stated aims meant that they would be under greater scrutiny from the rest of the world, that their mistakes would be as visible as their successes.

If any actual city comes close to this, itsDubai, at least as it appears inthis half-hour video

of a ride along the citys mostly elevated metro system through three of its major built-up areas, in gold-tinged late-afternoon sunlight, with an ambient-music soundtrack. Its somehow reassuring that theres at least one place on Earth where the 21st century actually does look the way all those older movies and TV shows (at least the ones that werent set in a post-nuclear holocaust world) imagined it would. (And it does, indeed, look like

Washington, D.C.was built as one of these, what with the Neoclassical architecture realized in bright white stone, the rational grid of streets, and so on, to house the enlightened, rational government. Unfortunately, it was built in the middle of a disease-ridden swamp, many of the buildings in early DC were ramshackle huts, andthat governmentbecame the site of corruption and sectional acrimony within the space of a generation.

Brasilia, the planned city built to be the capital ofBrazil. Its full of sleek and gleaming white buildings with a deliberately 60s space-age flair, surrounded by plenty of open grassy pavilions and forested areas, making it look like a real-life Tomorrowland. As if that wasnt enough, the whole city was laid out in the shape of

, just to hammer home that Brazil was going places. Unfortunately, its utopian aspirations crashed and burned, as Brasilia became the seat of a military junta less than five years after it was completed.

Sejong Special Self-Governing City was built to be this forKorea. It was named after the most revered king in Korean history, and the city was planned as a administrative city where shiny and new government offices and parks will be located along with government employees and their families as citizens away fromSeoulwhere too much of the political and administrative power was concentrated. This measure was also to prevent the entire governmental body being annihilated by a single strike from North Korea.

Constantinople (now itsIstanbul (Not Constantinople)) remained the Shining City (at least as an ideal; in practice it was more of aMega City) ofEuropefor well over a millennia during its time as capital ofThe Byzantine Empire. Purpose-built by Constantine to be the capital of his empire, it served as the gateway to the east (throughThe Silk Road) and eclipsed its predecessor (Rome) in importance for the Roman Empire by the 12th century, Constantinople was practically synonymous with the last vestiges of Rome. This continued after its conquest by the Ottomans, who referred to it as The City of the Worlds Desire. With the growing importance of the American colonies and spice trade through the Cape of Good Hope, the city lost much of its luster.

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