Glacier City, SAR
Glacier City, SAR is a city-state that forms an integral part of the Holy Ralgon Empire. This article refers to the semi-autonomous region run from the Port of Glacier City, as well as its metropolitan area. The Capital District (which only includes the vast mountain complex itself) is situated to the north end of the small region, and is bounded by a series of shorter mountains and high rocks that make passage from north to south all but impossible for ground traffic. This creates a natural land barrier that has served as the region's savior and wall against the rest of the world alike for the initial centuries of its recorded history.
Glacier City hosts the Ralgonese executive capital, with the Imperial government issuing orders from the city on top of the eponymous mountain complex, itself now called the Capital District (or Imperial City) to differentiate between the City and the Region. The central district sits on the very center of the largest dormant volcano in all of Micras. The caldera lake fills nearly 25 square kilometers of the caldera separates the central island from the rim, which is populated with outer buildings that serve to support both the vast religious infrastructure, the executive government housed on the island, and also by the core of the university campus that is allowed to continue its presence on sacred ground.
The City's core is located on a volcanic island in the caldera lake's center that measures roughly 1.6 sq. km in size. An ancient causeway only wide enough for a single lane by car (which legally switch directions once per week) connects the island with the inner rim of the mountain. This road makes a beeline along the lake's shallowest parts to the ancient settlement near the mountain's rim, where most of Glacier City University's buildings are located.
The term "Glacier City" denotes the area around a massive, extinct volcano that serves as the metropolitan region's most well-known landmark. The name of the city was for the year-round glacier (and the permanent snow cap that sources it) that covers the entire mountaintop. Suring the summer months, the snow cap runs anywhere from a quarter to a third of the way down the mountain, and covers nearly the entire portion visible over the city's vast skyline during the winter -- which is to say, around three quarters of it.
Although the term "Glacier City" refers to the entire polity, in the old days it merely denoted the cluster of rapidly growing settlements in the Mountain City, which occupied the vast mountain's spectacular caldera (along with the vast caldera lake and the island in its center). Instead, before 1178 the region referred to two cities: the Mountain City, and the people who lived under the Glacier, which was known as Glacier City. As the latter surrounded the former, and the Mountain City gradually became relegated to a combined academic and religious site (instead of a shelter in times of mortal danger to the then-nation's inhabitants), the entire city took on its present name.
The "SAR" portion of the city-state's name stands for "Self-Governing Autonomous Region" or, alternatively, as the "Semi-Autonomous Region." Both designations are correct, although official documents only cite the former. The region has governed itself, with only the Mountain City being under external jurisdiction during most of the city's long history.
The Caldera Island
The City's core is located on a volcanic island in the caldera lake's center that measures roughly 1.6 sq. km in size. An ancient causeway only wide enough for a single lane by car (which legally switch directions once per week) connects the island with the inner rim of the mountain. This road makes a beeline along the lake's shallowest parts to the ancient settlement near the mountain's rim, where most of Glacier City University's buildings are located. The road serves as the sole entrance and exit for the island. Due to the road's age and narrowness, traffic plans are announced from the Palace each morning, to accommodate pedestrian traffic, along with the rare vehicles going directly onto the causeway.
The Imperial Palace
The majority of the 1.6 kilometer island is dedicated to the 1.2 sq. km palace complex, attached religious buildings (which are numerous), and parklands that have been maintained since before recorded history. It is known as the Forbidden City to the locals, due to a complete bar on public access to the palace complex, and the difficulty for civilians to enter the island except through admittance to the Glacier City University, itself only allowed to exist near the island's sole entry point.
The outer fringes of the walled (and heavily defended) palace compound hosts various complexes that blend into the surrounding parkland, focusing the eye's attention on the massive palace at the island's center. Those outer buildings support the city's academic, executive, and religious functions, while the inner Palace serves to facilitate the Emperor's work at home.
The Causeway Districts
There are exactly two areas of the caldera island that are open to traffic that has no business directly with the palace. Those are the university housed near the western side of the island's entrance from the Causeway, and the historic Glacier Mountain Village district located across the Imperial Boulevard that leads from the Causeway's terminus to the Palace. Visitor traffic up to this point is open to limited segments of the population. Full citizens may enter on certain days of the year to visit the Village, and students of the University are allowed as well... on foot only.
Vehicle (or animal mount) entrance is restricted only to those the Emperor specifically allows to travel to the Palace by this method -- usually important dignitaries. A heavily-secured tunnel between the island and the outer portions of the Rim is under construction as of 1687 AN to facilitate student and cleric transport on and off the island's entrance. The Palace Transport Tunnel is scheduled for completion by 1688, and will vastly improve travel times to and from the island for workers and students alike, while the ancient Causeway's use will continue to be reserved for distinguished guests and island personnel.
On the eastern side, a 100-hectare district houses the original city's religious and economic center, now populated mostly by clerics. Some of these same buildings have stood since before the 2nd Century AN, before the City's recorded history. Access to this sacred place is restricted to resident monks, selected visiting dignitaries, and designated members of the Emperor's immediate entourage. It is treated almost entirely by the island's monks as a massive museum piece, with most work being done maintaining the buildings in pristine condition. (Religious work, in practice, is carried out elsewhere on the island.)
A plot on the island's western fringe near the Causeway entrance measuring exactly 25 hectares houses the core campus of Glacier City University, with the remaining 95 hectares scattered around the Inner Rim housing its administration and research buildings. The outer edges of the island (totaling 100 hectares) are dedicated solely to its defense in case of an internal security threat that breaches the heavy defenses stationed on the outer faces of the Mountain. This 25-hectare allotment has remained the same size and shape as it has been since 1296, when the local government took over the campus and detached it from the massive religious complex that now spans much of the present-day island.