||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (October 2011)|
The city is constructed on seven large and many small islands in the River Reik, in the southwest of the Empire. In terms of its culture, architecture, layout, governance and populace, it is strongly reminiscent of several of the larger cities of Renaissance Europe.
Altdorf is the seat of the government and a spiritual center of the Empire as well as being home to many important institutions, including the Altdorf University, the College of Engineers and the Colleges of Magic.
The name Altdorf in German means old town, and is a common town name in Germany, as well as being appropriate for one of the oldest towns in the Empire. However, it is also very likely a reference to the Early Renaissance artist Albrecht Altdorfer whose paintings, especially The Battle of Alexander at Issus are cited as a seminal influence on the art of Warhammer by Games Workshop's art director John Blanche.
Altdorf is built more or less on the site of Reikdorf, a walled village built by the "Unberogen" tribe. From this tribe Sigmar rose to be a powerful leader who united the tribes and founded the Empire as "Sigmar Heldenhammer the First".
Altdorf has survived three sieges:
- In 1707 the city is besieged by Orc warlord Gorbad Ironclaw. Sigismund, Prince of Altdorf and one of the three claimants to the Imperial Throne, is killed by a Wyvern. The Orcs are unable to break through the city walls however, and soon the Orc army becomes demoralized and scatters.
- In 2051 Altdorf came under siege by the Vampire Count Vlad von Carstein. His undead forces nearly succeeded in capturing the city. Vlad's plans were thwarted by the Grand Theogonist (the high priest of the Church of Sigmar), who sacrificed himself by charging Vlad head on and pushing him off the battlements to be impaled on the spikes of the city's moat. The Grand Theogonist landed on top of the vampire, driving him even deeper down on the spikes, and killing them both.
- In 2133 Mannfred von Carstein besieged Altdorf with a large force of undead. However, after Vlad's failed siege almost a century before, many necromantic books had been captured, and the Grand Theogonist of that time made good use of those. Standing on the battlements, he recited the Great Spell of Unbinding from one of the grimoires, causing large amounts of the undead army to collapse and forcing Mannfred to retreat.
- Davis, Graeme (2005), Paths of the Damned vol.2: The Spires of Altdorf, Black Industries, ISBN 1-84416-224-9
- Spires of Altdorf The official source book for the city of Altdorf for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, from Black Industries.