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This article is about the city of Paliiso. For the state, see Paliiso (state)

Paliiso is a city and state capital in Karolia. It is the second smallest state by land area and the third smallest by population. The city is a major tourist attraction in Karolia and unique in the world for its situation on a peninsula and series of islands, some natural, some artificial. It is known as the 'Floating City', the 'City of Islands' and the 'Jewel of the Bay'.



The earliest known settlements on the peninsula were in the early medieval period. The city of Paliiso grew up around a fort built at the tip of the hMajos estuary, which appears to have been completed in 935 as a wooden stockade with a small fleet of naval ships harboured there. At that time much of the land to the north was marshy and uninhabitable but the peninsula made for a good defensive position. The fort's location was also ideal for controlling access to the sea from the mouth of the river Majos and for transferring goods from river boats and land transport to sea-going ships. The sheltered location made it an ideal harbour for the shallow-draughted merchant ships of the time. From the ninth century onwards there was an established town and water trade steadily grew. Paliiso was founded as an independent republic with an Elector from 1136 and it was at this time that the black and red flag was adopted.

Medieval period

As a republic, Paliiso was governed by an Elector and the Council of Twelve, who were chosen from the noble families of the state by a secret ballot amongst all property-owning men over thirty. This was once of the first systems of democracy in the world. The main political focus was on maintaining the city's trade power, but it also became a religious and cultural centre with the building of the Basilica, which was constructed between 1389-1430. The city itself was till mostly confined to the area now called the Vanalinn, but the hospital of Szt Pavo and other islands were also built upon the outlying islands, assisted by strengthening of the sandbanks and drainage to create suitable building sites. During this period it was more common to hear medieval Darcodian spoken than the local variety of Karolian in the city. Wars elsewhere in Karolia tended to have little effect on the city's economy, although it did take part in the fighting on several occasions.

Height of prosperity

The sixteenth to eighteenth centuries were a time of continuing wealth and prosperity for Paliiso. The city was still the most multicultural of the Karolian-speaking states and still a major port and trading centre, with vessels from all over the world importing goods. The waterfronts north of the old Vanalinne began to become built-up with landing stages and with residential and commercial areas built along streets further inland. This was largely unplanned and the maze of narrow streets and hastily constructed buildings were a major factor in the Great Fire, an event that shaped the modern city. Paliiso was the dominant naval power in Karolia during the seventeenth century and its navy was used to defend the large fleet of merchant ships based in the state. For a 'loyalty fee' merchants could expect the protection of the Paliiso navy whilst in Karolian waters. This was so effective that piracy in the Gulf of Osmila practically disappeared by the start of the Unification period.

The Great Fire

On the morning of the 19th August 1607 a fire broke out in a wharf at the south-western corner of the city. The height of summer and the amount of wooden buildings, coupled with a westerly wind and the abundance of flammable materials in the industrial areas meant that the flames quickly spread and by midday around 40% of the northern city was well ablaze. Efforts by the citizens to pump water and pull down buildings to contain the fire did little to prevent further destruction. A fortuitous shower of rain at 8pm and the extensive damage already done managed to put out most of the blaze. The makeshift port areas had suffered around 60% total destruction and a further 20% moderate to heavy damage. The economic consequence equated to around Kr300 million in modern money, leaving the city without most of its port facilities and manufacturing facilities.


After the Great Fire, much of the hastily built port areas were badly damaged (the Old Town however escaped almost untouched due to be insulated by the canal). It was decided to use the city's wealth to completely redesign and expand the city to the north in accordance with the wishes of the Elector, in the latest elegant neo-classical style. The port areas would be constructed with solid stone and brick warehouses and quays. This project also involved the draining of the final areas of marshland and led the way for the urban size of the state to increase hugely in the following 300 years.

The entire New City was built in a series of zones using a grid system for each. The centrepieces were the huge new Seintori (cathedral) and the Elector's Palace, which was the first thing travellers from the north would see. The roads were built to double-width often with trees down the middle and grand buildings housed the wealthy merchants and their families. Provision was made for the landing of goods, and further canals were dug to allow water access to the city centre. The industries that were thought to be prone to starting fires (and, more underhand, were considered unsightly by the new rich inhabitants) were moved offshore. This meant that almost every outlying island was devoted to a particular trade, with the jewellery and glassmaking centres becoming miniature cities in themselves.

18th - 19th centuries

Paliiso was joined to the railway network in 1851 with a terminus station built at the end of a short tunnel to the main island. The station was located in an infilled dock and the platforms are below street level, meaning the facade is rather low in height for a main station.

Twentieth century

Paliiso experienced a steady change in economy during the twentieth century, with traditional industries contracting and tourism playing a much bigger role in the civic economy. A tramway system was constructed from 1910-1934 and motorised ferries used to create a complimentary water network. The arrival of ocean-going liners affected the city as the waters were generally too shallow for them to dock until dredging was undertaken, but seaplanes filled the gap to some extent. Today Paliiso has complimented its role as a tourist destination with economic and service industries, as well as culture, education and the revival of traditional trades.


Paliiso is located at the estuary of the river Majos, one of the longest in Karolia, and the Talva, a smaller waterway. The rivers deposit large amounts of sediment which over time built up into the islands and sandbanks that were the foundation for the modern city. Ironically, given that the sediment is responsible for the city's existence, constant dredging and removal of fresh deposits is now required to keep the waterways clear. The city is almost completely flat, with the highest point being 76m above sea level on Linnutoisaar. This has led to the need for flood defences.

Around 70% of the city is urbanised (excluding water), with the remainder parks and gardens.


Paliiso receives a lower-than average rainfall than the rest of Karolia due to its sheltered location. Air temperatures tend to be a little higher than other cities in winter.

Sights and important areas

Museums and galleries

Paliiso City Museum is owned by the state council and contains exhibitions on the history of the city, its military and trades. There is also a collection of the art and sculpture acquired by the residents over the centuries.

The Military Museum is a branch of the City Museum and is adjacent to the Uuslosse (New Fort).

Several museum ships which have a connection to the city are moored nearby as part of the exhibit, including the SB Paliiso, an 18th century naval frigate; the Jan Maasriias, the first Karolian iron-hulled warship; a 19th century merchant clipper and the island steamer Joukai.

There are also a few 'museum houses', such as the one at Kaletskatu 16, which show life and industry in times past.


Paliiso has two cathedrals: the older is the Basiilica (Catholic) dating from the 1400s and subject to subsequent modification and elaboration. Its architectural features include an ornate domed roof and cupolas, galleries above the main sanctuary and traditional gold artwork. The later Seintori (Lutheran) is in a more restrained Classical style; it too has a dome but is a more conventional linear layout as befits its location in the New City.

The Oratory of Szt. Kareo is located at the top of a minor peak in the southern New City and contains a notable alter and artworks.

Other churches of note include the Kriistkirk in the University district.

Parks and Gardens

New City

The New City is the area occupying most of Paliiso-Linn (this is the only island without the '-saar' suffix) and is comprised principally of eighteenth to nineteenth century buildings. There are also some twentieth-century Art Nouveau façades and industrial buildings. The main economic activities besides the state government agencies are the university, the ferry port on the west side, banks and the tourist industry. Numerous hotels and restaurants are located in the northern part of the island around the railway station.


The Old City lies at the tip of the main island. The canal that forms its northern border acted as a moat as well in historical times. Much of the medieval city was removed for the building of the sixteenth-century Palota and the Basilica but some parts remain to the north as well as large chunks of the city walls.

'Long Houses'

A unique and curious style of building in the central islands is the 'long house' or 'thin house', which are exactly what they sound like - houses with a very narrow frontage (often less than twelve feet) and instead built upwards and longwards. The reason for its development was the high cost of land and the need to have water access. Many houses have very little floor space on the ground, instead a 'garage' for a boat or instead a workshop underneath the main living and working areas. The houses were built side-by-side in order to support each other and often feature innovative solutions to the problem of getting enough light into the rooms.


Linnasaar which lies several kilometers to the south of the main city, was the most heavily defended fortress in Paliiso and the stronghold of last resort. It consists of a largely-intact castle, later fortifications and parkland with a few village areas. The castle was designed to allow the government to continue should the Old or New Cities be captured and as well as the surface buildings there was a network of subterranean rooms and armouries, which also contained the Republic's treasury and mints. The island is also home to Paliiso Zoo, and the Karolian Navy's main base. Around 400 people live on the island today, mostly connected to the miltary or in private holiday villas. Due to the large areas of park, woodland and gardens, it is a popular destination for tourist and residents during good weather.


The Lido island is one of the most exclusive and expensive places to live in already pricey Paliiso. The long, thin island has a beach running nearly the entire length of its western side, a large golf course and the 5-star Lido Hotel at its southern tip.


'Jewellers' Island' is the smallest of the group attached to the main city; its access other than by water was traditionally over a single bridge to Glass Island in order to protect the valuable goods worked and sold there. The island was, from the 1450s onwards, home to numerous goldsmiths, silversmiths, and jewel-setters' workshops which would receive gems and metals and produce jewellery for all ends of the market. The streets grew up in a disordered fashion around the buildings and today are largely a jumble of narrow passageways which are only negotiable on foot. Alternatively ladders and steps over the rooftops were and still are used. The island still contains several working businesses with shops and a museum of its history in the old assizes office.

Government and politics

Paliiso is both a city and a state, meaning a single Liidu governs both.


Paliiso remains to this day more 'multicultural' than the rest of Karolia, although less so than in earlier times. Darcodian is spoken here as commonly as Karolian and Romans, and there are sizeable communities descended from


Paliiso University was founded in 1610 and the current buildings date from the reconstruction of the city following the fire.

Paliiso Suurkool, next to the University, was founded in 1478 for the education of merchants' and navy officers' sons. It was made a public school in 1905 and girls were also admitted from this time. Demand for places is high and the school has produced many notable alumni.

Maasiis Vai Ulikool, Paliiso Uuskool, Tolvas Ulikool, Koseka Ulikool and the Ulikool Larii Pekkamas provide secondary education in the city.


Although tourism is the main source of outside income, the traditional industries of glass-blowing, stringed instrument manufacture and fine arts still exist in the city, commanding high prices for the quality of goods.


Paliiso is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Karolia, receiving an annual number of visitors second only to Säntjana. The most visited attractions are the Old Town, the two cathedrals, the Palota and City Museum, the Merchant's House, the Linnasaar and fort, and the annual Music Festival. The Lido island, with its luxury hotels, is also a popular stop amongst the more wealthy visitors. Saepoo airport was built in the 1970s in order to provide an more extensive air entry point.


Glass-making has been practised in Paliiso since at least the fourteenth century. The delicate shapes and vibrant colours of Paliiso glass were the result of chance discoveries by chemists in the seventeenth century and were a closely guarded secret amongst the glass-blowers. After the Great Fire, the glass-blowers were required to have their workshops on an island away from the city centre to lessen the risk should fire break out. The most notable items are the traditional tankard with its distinctive pinched top with a ring of colour and the blue-tinted bowls, vases and glasses. More contemporary designs include intricate Art Nouveau earrings and stained glass windows.


Along with glass, jewellery was also made and exported from the city.

Stringed instruments

Paliiso was historically famed for the quality of its violins and other stringed instruments. The wood is actually grown in colder areas of the lower Taamras, where the wood grows more slowly and is more dense, therefore creating an acoustically superior sound when made into an instrument. The process of making an instrument has hardly changed in 400 years, and most of the most exceptional families of luthiers and bow-makers still have workshops in the city. The colour of varnish differs from maker to maker, but almost all Paliiso violins can be identified by their rich red colour and black staining on the ridges of the scroll and neck joint and well as several makers adopting slightly different dimensions to the 'standard' violin. The centre of violin-making was and is still Kaloosaar, which like the glass-blowing industry was intentionally located on an island to lessen the risk from fire. Several Paliiso instruments can be seen (and heard) in the City Museum and the Musical Museum.


Boats are still constructed along traditional lines in the city for racing and as luxury yachts, however the manufacture of trading vessels ceased in the early twentieth century.

Arts and Culture


Paliiso has long been an important musical centre. The most famous composer associated with the city is Giani Martellini (1695-1736) who was variously the musical director at the the Basilica and a shrewd investor in the newly invented music publishing business. Despite his relatively short life, Martellini composed over eight hundred extant works, including masses, other religious choral works, concertos for practically every instrument existing, madrigals for solo and groups of voices, music for consorts of brass and strings, and music for the organ. His Gloria and Concerte Armonike for violin are well known throughout the world. Other important figures include Haanu Isatorii (c.1650-1724), Carella va'Ulina (1704-c.1770) and the mysterious Vadaano/Pordan (c.1500-c.1560) who wrote harmonically adventurous works for unaccompanied chorus.

The opening of the Seintori and its Lutheran music brought a new tradition to the city.

Today Paliiso has every bit a claim to be the musical capital of Karolia as before, and music tourism is a significant asset to the city. The Orkester Paliisosid/Orchestra da'Paliisoi are the main professional group in the city, alongside their period instrument group, Muusica Elektoras. Sinfoonia Paliiso are also an active group. The main venues for concerts, apart from churches, are the Teatra Vana in the Old City, the University Arts Centre, the Keskhalle and the smaller Kamera as well as the Elektorsaal in the Palace. The first two listed are also used as theatres. Paliiso has an opera house located on Keskes maantee.



Paliiso is connected to the A3 and A1 motorways via a short spur to the north. Bridges between the islands are often congested at busy times and many residents do not own a car. The route to the ferry port passes through the city centre, leading to frequent calls for the port to be relocated or new access roads (which would invariably involve a tunnel) to be constructed. There is already a tunnel from Puhanessar under the Majos estuary emerging near the airport.

The Old City is largely pedestrianised and the authorities have encouraged bicycle use on designated routes.

A motor bus network, part of municipal transport authority PVK, operates throughout the city and suburbs. Electric minibuses are used for routes traversing the narrow streets of the Old City. There have been moves to convert the entire fleet to electric and alternative fuels in recent years.


Paliiso has a fairly extensive tramway network run as part of PVK, mostly serving the New City but running to some suburbs.


The New City is connected to the national railway network by a terminus station towards the north of Paliisosaar. This is served by all classes of trains, including Karolian High-Speed services. There are local stations in the suburbs of Koseka and Vaisis.


Unsurprisingly, water transport plays an important role in keeping the city moving. Water buses operate along the canals and coasts, whilst slightly larger ferries travel between islands. Private water taxis can be hired in the same manner as four-wheeled taxis. Larger ferries from the Reisendamm connect the city to Darcodia across the upper Gulf of Osmila. Cruise ships also call at the Reisendamm from international destinations.


Paliiso-Saepoo Airport is located around 8km east of the city, on the opposite shore of the Majos estuary. There are regional and international scheduled flights to many destinations.

During the 1930's, seaplanes regularly operated from the city and nearby islands. The area was almost perfect for the craft; it had an almost unlimited take-off and landing space, with the winds usually in the right direction, and the aircraft were not as affected by shallow water and sandbanks as large ships were.