As a wealthy port metropolis, with over 42,000 inhabitants (although that almost doubles in the summer months), it is an important merchant city on the Sword Coast. Its strong Watch and the presence of the powerful Flaming Fist mercenary company maintain order within the city.
The city's unique shape, curved around its harbor, gives it the appearance of a crescent moon. The docks and shipping facilities are among the most efficient along the coast and the city relies heavily on the ships that dock there. A large open marketplace, called The Wide, dominates the northeast portion of the walled city, and other large structures include The High Hall, seat of the city government, the High House of Wonders, a large temple to Gond, and the Seatower of Balduran, a small fortress in the center of the harbor. To keep vermin from spreading too much into the city proper, cats are bred and encouraged to roam the city[who?].
The city takes its name from the great seafaring hero Balduran. Long ago, Balduran sailed to the fabled Anchorome and returned with great wealth which was used to build the wall around what became Baldur's Gate. He left the city again, presumably to return to Anchorome, but never returned.
At the time, the growing town was controlled by local farmers who mercilessly taxed incoming shipments. This infuriated ship captains, who believed that since the harbor wasn't walled in, its traffic should not be taxed, and they eventually overthrew the farmers. The four eldest captains ruled the city together, and jokingly called themselves "dukes," which stuck.
Baldur's Gate is ruled by four grand dukes, the Council of Four. The rulers include Duke Eltan, leader of the Flaming Fist, Belt, a powerful warrior and divine spellcaster, Liia Jannath, a mage, and Entar Silvershield, the richest man in Baldur's Gate, but also a strong warrior in his own right. The Council is part of the Lords' Alliance, which includes Waterdeep, Neverwinter and Silverymoon, among others. However, with Neverwinter being wiped out by a plague whether this Alliance still exists or not is uncertain.
Baldur's Gate contains a very effective Thieves Guild, as well as a powerful and honest Merchant's League. Additionally, the Knights of the Shield and the Knights of the Unicorn are both active in the city. Various thieves guilds have risen and fallen in Baldur's Gate including Xantam's Guild and the Hands of Glory. Amn's Shadow Thieves are also known to be active in the city, although their local operations are believed to be strictly commercial.[who?]
The Blushing Mermaid: Located in the Northeast corner of the Upper City. The Mermaid is renowned up and down the Sword Coast as a meeting place for those who wish to conduct illicit business. It is a noisy place frequently beset by brawls, and patrons either go in heavily armed groups or do not survive for long. Architecturally, the Mermaid is long, low, and gives every appearance of imminent collapse. It is surrounded on three sides by a tangle of stables, outbuildings, and enclosures. It is known to have at least four levels of cellars, and innumerable stories abound of hidden passages and connections to the city's sewer system. The tavern's rooms are low of ceiling and dim of lighting, furnished with mismatched and much-abused furniture. A representative of virtually any illegal group operating in Baldur's Gate can usually be found somewhere on the premises. The establishment serves sea-ale, stout, light lager, and whisky. The Mermaid operates around the clock.
Elfsong Tavern: Located just inside the gate to Wyrm's Crossing, in the Lower City. An establishment similar to the Blushing Mermaid, but more popular with adventurers and independent operators than with the established organizations of the underworld. Patrons are expected to go armed and are responsible for their own safety. The building itself is two stories, large, and elegantly built, albeit somewhat dilapidated. The name derives from an unusual haunting: a ghostly female elven voice heard periodically throughout the establishment. The singing is quiet, but can be heard quite clearly. It is most often described as both beautiful and mournful. The identity of the singer is unknown, but it is clear that her song is a lament for a lover lost at sea. No other music is permitted inside the Elfsong. The establishment serves virtually every kind of alcohol known, and is also known for its sandwiches, pickles, and fish.
Splurging Sturgeon: Located just south of the Blushing Mermaid in the Upper City. A small, two-story establishment.
The Low Lantern: A three-masted ship moored on the northeast side of the harbor along Stormshore Street. Infamous as a den of drinking, gambling, prostitution, and the occasional murder. Patrons are advised to come armed with plenty of weapons and coin, and to leave their moral scruples on the dock. There are three lower decks currently in use by the establishment.
The Helm and Cloak: A high-end inn, boarding, and feasting establishment. Located in the Upper City, on Belltoll Street. The establishment is favored by wealthy locals as a fashionable place to dine and chat, and by wealthy travelers for its superb accommodations. An entire floor is devoted to long-term occupancy rooms. The Helm and Cloak is frequented by many powerful individuals, both from the city and afar. The decor is elegant while somehow managing to retain the best of informal good taste. It is rumoured that hidden inside the inn are the helm and cloak of Balduran himself, but nobody has yet been able to find them. Apart from its food the establishment serves mead and cinnamon-spiced milk, but no beer of any sort.
Three Old Kegs: A quiet, high-end establishment, intended for quiet rest rather than revels. Located along the east wall of the Ducal Palace. Three stories tall and of middling size. Most of the walls are crammed with bookshelves, and most of its patrons spend the day in napping, reading, and low-stakes gambling. Most sounds are absorbed by the thick rugs and wall-hangings. Patrons are not permitted to carry weapons, and rowdiness is not permitted. The Three Old Kegs serves many varieties of wine.
The Blade and Stars: Located in the Lower City, on Windspell Street. A middle-grade establishment named for its enchanted signboard, which was looted from a destroyed village in Amn at the end of an old trade war. It depicts a scimitar held by a human female hand, with (enchanted) twinkling stars drifting slowly around the blade on a black background. The inn itself is very long and tall, two stories in height. Decor is simple, clean and fairly new. The Blade and Stars is notable for its security, which is very effective at handling both thieves and disruptive patrons.
Purple Wyrm Inn
Firewind Manor (formerly House Felldane)
The Hall of Wonders (temple of Gond): Located in the southwest corner of the Upper City. It is hard to miss. Noted as a museum of various technological marvels as well as being a major temple to Gond.
The Water-Queen's House (temple of Umberlee): Located along the west side of the harbor. Casual visitation is discouraged.
The Lady's Hall (temple of Tymora): Located just northwest of the Hall of Wonders in the Upper City.
The Watchful Shield (Church of Helm): Located in the northern Upper City, just east of the Black Dragon's Gate.
Temple of Oghma: Located next to the main gates of the Ducal Palace.
Shrine of the Suffering (shrine of Ilmater): Located in the extreme northeast corner of the Upper City.
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series – A trio of adventurers prevent Eldrith the Betrayer, Mistress of the Onyx Tower, from sending her army of minions into Baldur's Gate, as well as managing to destroy the Tower itself. In the sequel, Mordoc Selanmere uses his minions to successfully coerce the Harpers to enable the return of the Onyx Tower. Mordoc then is able to teleport the Onyx Tower into Baldur's Gate, and both Mordoc and the Onyx Tower must be destroyed so life can return to normal in the city.