The City of Ba Sing SeEdit
Ba Sing Se is the capital of the Earth Kingdom which encompasses nearly all of the nation's northeastern corner.
The city is by far the largest in the World of Avatar, essentially being more of a small country than a mere city. As a testament to its grandeur, the Earth Kingdom's roadway network is centered on the city. Ba Sing Se means "Impenetrable City"; it is so named for its world-famous walls, the gates of which have no hinges or other hardware and are opened by the use of earthbending. Within the Outer Wall lies a large expanse of farmland, Lake Laogai, and several mountains. The Inner Wall encloses the city itself. The metropolis is also notable for having a unique system of walls dividing the populace into different parts of the city based on social status.
Ba Sing Se is divided into several major districts, with inhabitants sorted in various walled "rings" based on economic and social class. These range from the Lower Ring, a place of ghettos inhabited by refugees and the poor, to the Upper Ring, home of the Kingdom's ruling classes and the rich. Travel throughout the city, in addition to entering and exiting it, is provided by large, earthbending powered monorails, constructed during the reign of Earth King Yi Ming. The monorails meet in large transit stations, are free to the general public, and make travel within the city much easier. Citizens are free to travel between the Agrarian Zone, the Lower Ring, and the Middle Ring. The Upper Ring is a particularly exclusive area of the city; it is restricted to citizens with the personal invitation of a citizen of the Upper Ring, the government, or the Earth King himself.
At one hundred meters tall, Ba Sing Se's Outer Wall is the city's first, and thickest, line of defense. This makes it the largest man-made structure in the world. The wall encircles all of Ba Sing Se, along with the vast Agrarian Zone and a medium-sized lake. It is considered indestructible and is commonly incorporated on maps as a terrain feature. The Dai Li mandates that soldiers and sentries be placed on the wall at all times, with many of them living in built-in homes inside the wall.
Just outside of the Lower Ring, between the Outer Wall and the Inner Wall of the city, is the Agrarian Zone, a large underdeveloped area that consists of wide open plains of land, used mainly for agricultural purposes. Along with its vital wildlife and crop resources, the Agrarian Zone functions as a massive land buffer between the Outer Wall and the Inner Wall, where all of the Ba Sing Se residents dwell, widening the gap between invaders and citizens if perchance the Outer Wall was ever breached. This area in the city houses many farms belonging to citizens, mostly of the Lower Ring, who live behind the Inner Wall and travel outside to tend to the land every day.
The Inner Wall is a massive earthen barrier that serves as the primary protector of the actual city of Ba Sing Se after the Outer Wall and the vast Agrarian Zone. During the war, it was constantly guarded by earthbenders who could create an opening in it to allow incoming and exiting traffic. Due to the limited space the wall allowed for the expanding city, some of the Lower Ring houses were built directly against the wall.
The Lower Ring is home to the poor classes of Ba Sing Se's society and the majority of its population. These consist of newcomers to the city, including its multitude of refugees, and people who work with their hands such as artisans, laborers, and craftsman. Due to the impoverished state of the citizens of the Lower Ring, as well as the influx of refugees, the crime rate is significantly higher. The Lower Ring is also the most densely populated area of Ba Sing Se. Buildings in the Lower Ring are generally small, because the Lower Ring houses the majority of the populace and many people need to be crammed into the space available. The roofs of most buildings in the ring are brown tiled, indicating the poor status of the owners.
The Middle Ring of Ba Sing Se contains the city's middle-class populace. Inside this ring are a vast assortment of shops and restaurants as well as the financial district and Town Hall, one of the oldest buildings in the Middle Ring. Ba Sing Se University, a great repository of knowledge and a key landmark of the city, is also located in this area. The buildings of this Ring are larger than those of the Lower Ring, and the roofs are tiled green. It is generally wealthier and has a more peaceful atmosphere than the Lower Ring, and there are many flowers and trees. Citizens of the Middle Ring are free to enter the Agrarian Zone, Lower Ring, Middle Ring and the Upper Ring without needing permission.
The most affluent of the three rings, the Upper Ring contains the city's upper class population, as well as military and government officials. The most important citizens of the city reside here, protected against criminal activity by the presence of the Dai Li. The Royal Palace is located in the center of the Upper Ring, within its own walls. The buildings of the Upper Ring are generally huge walled compounds, much like small versions of the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace itself, and the roofs are done with yellow tiles to symbolize the richness of the building and its owners. Upper Ring Citizens are free to go wherever they please within Ba Sing Se.
The royal palace, located in the Upper Ring of the city, houses the seat of government of the Earth Kingdom, including the Earth King or Earth Queen. It has been the seat of power for every known earth monarch. The palace is large and houses not only the earth monarch and their family, but their several hundred guards and servants as well.
Royal Palace GroundsEdit
Located within the Upper Ring, at the center of Ba Sing Se, the Earth King's palace and surrounding grounds are the spiritual and military center of the entire Earth Kingdom. Here is where the Earth King spends all his days. The palace is structured around a meridian line that cuts through the center of the city, from west to east. The meridian line leads directly to the Earth King's throne. The grounds consist of numerous ceremonial temples, quarters to house the King's servants, elaborate gardens, and the King's menagerie of exotic animals.
Common citizens are forbidden from entering the Earth King's walled domain unless they have a personal invitation from the king.
South of Ba Sing Se, the fighting cliffs, one white and the other red, face each other with a wide ravine between them. Early Earth Kingdom natives noticed that the ground of the ravine was charred and black, and legend holds that the cliffs were created in an ancient battle between earthbenders and firebenders, the conflict being so awesome that the very ground they fought on soaked up their power and animosity. The cliffs are currently mined for spark rocks, small stones used by Earth Kingdom citizens to start fires.
Ba Sing Se UniversityEdit
This university is a prominent feature of the Middle Ring and a great center of learning. It is one of the greatest centers of learning in the world, with notable students from all over the world. Music, zoology, architecture, anthropology, art, geography, history, political science, astrology, science, engineering, mathematics, and drama are just some of the classes taught here.
Council's War RoomEdit
The Council's War Room is a large room located in the Upper Ring of Ba Sing Se where the Council of Five meets to discuss war plans before sending them to the Earth King for final approval. Prior to the Earth King's revelation regarding the war, the Generals would send their plans to the Grand Secretariat for approval. On the floor of the room is a large map of the world, with colored stone tokens spread across it to represent military units. The Generals move these tokens around with earthbending to deduce the most effective battle strategies.
Underneath the palace, and possibly much of the city, lies Old Ba Sing Se, an ancient underground city deep within the earth. These catacombs are the remnants of the first settlement in the area, carved underground by earthbenders. As the old city spread to the surface, the caverns were abandoned and eventually buried beneath the new city. Inside the interior of Old Ba Sing Se still lie ancient stone structures, a waterfall and pool, and the luminescent green crystals that gave Ba Sing Se its fame.
Located in the Lower Ring, the Firelight Fountain is popular with citizens who come to feed the turtle ducks in the day, and considered to be the most romantic spot in town at night.
The fountain is encircled by lanterns that brighten the entire area. There is a stone structure in the middle with a top center lamp and a lower level of lamps, and lanterns floating in the water.
Fancy Lady Day SpaEdit
The Fancy Lady Day Spa is an Upper Ring establishment for pampering noblewomen that has a university attached to it where students can experiment with new ideas on actual customers who, in return, receive a discount on their spa day. Its popularity attracts noblewomen from all over Ba Sing Se, and occasionally other parts of the world.
Ba Sing Se ZooEdit
The Ba Sing Se Zoo is a large animal enclosure in the Middle Ring, and is home to a variety of animals from all over the world, some local while most are imported. A popular attraction with all citizens of Ba Sing Se.
Ba Sing Se MonorailEdit
The Ba Sing Se Monorail system has many stations around the city for quick and efficient public transport. Monorail stations are also located in near every part of Ba Sing Se, ranging from the Outer Wall to the heart of the city.