The Imperial Palace is the seat of the Adeptus Terra and the center of imperial power and administrative authority on Terra. It spreads across the whole of what used to be the Himalayan Mountains of Old Earth and is primarily defended by the Adeptus Custodes, although Space Marine, Collegia Titanica, and Adepta Sororitas forces are also known to protect the massive complex. The Imperial Palace is not just a single building but a massive interconnected series of continent-wide fortifications comprised of cyclopean and pyramidal structures that extend for several kilometres into the sky and for several dozen kilometres beneath the surface of Terra. The Palace is said to have 4,029,854 chambers in its entirety. This complex is divided into two security perimeters which essentially function as separate urban regions, the Outer and Inner Palaces, both of which are marked by thousands of landing pads for small craft and monstrous defensive weapons systems. Many of these defences were designed and emplaced by the Primarch Rogal Dorn at the time of the Horus Heresy. The Imperial Palace still possesses the scars of the terrible conflict that raged around it during the Battle of Terra more than 10,000 standard years ago. The heart of the Inner Palace contains the Sanctum Imperialis, the Hall of the Golden Throne, deep within the Inner Palace past the Eternity Gate where the Emperor of Mankind resides, his dying and decaying body interred within the arcane mechanism of the Golden Throne in stasis. Only the members of the Adeptus Custodes and a few select Imperial servants are allowed to pass through the Inner Palace's Eternity Gate and enter the presence of the Emperor of Mankind. Although billions of people work in the Palace complex, very few people have ever made it inside the Hall of the Golden Throne, one of that select number being the Inquisitor Jaq Draco.
During the turbulent era known as the Age of Strife, the Sol System and the nearby star systems that had been colonised by humanity during the Dark Age of Technology were effectively cut off from interstellar travel or communication with each other due to the massive Warp Storms that swept the galaxy as the Immaterium was roiled by the millennia-long gestation of the Chaos God Slaanesh and the turbulence that marked the decay of the Eldar empire before the Fall. During this long, 5,000-year-period of anarchy, fear and violence, Old Earth's once unified planetary government had completely broken down and been divided into dozens of warring states of so-called techno-barbarians. Continuous warfare raged across the surface of Terra for 2,500 standard years, beginning in the late 27th Millennium. Little remained of the once sophisticated civilisation of Old Earth's glorious past as the centre of a growing human interstellar civilisation marked by advanced science, high culture and wondrous technologies.
This was a dark period for the people of Old Earth, when they were dominated by brutal rulers and despotic tyrants. It was against this backdrop of oppression, violence and casual brutality that the Emperor of Mankind first revealed himself to the people of Terra. In secret, he had been planning for this moment in history for millennia, ever since the Age of Strife had fractured what remained of the ancient human interstellar federation. With his massive army of genetically-enhanced warriors, comprised of the first units of the Imperial Army that would serve as the prototypes for the later development of the Space Marines, the Emperor began his conquest of Terra. His intent was to reunite the warring nations into a unified planetary government and then use Terra as the springboard from which to begin his reconquest of the galaxy under the aegis of an Imperium of Man dedicated to the Imperial Truth of progress and reason.
Once Unity was finally achieved with the end of the Unification Wars in the late 30th Milleenium, the artisan masters of the many rival Masonic Guilds raised the Emperor's Imperial Palace up, block by gilded block, to be a statement of Unity, regal and unequivocal. The warring tribes and creeds of Terra had been alloyed under one rule, and the Imperial Palace was intended to symbolise that staggering achievement. The Imperial Palace is not so much an edifice as it is a handcrafted landmass. The artisan masters built it upon Terra's greatest mountain range, the Himalazia (Himalayan) Mountains, and transformed the monstrous peaks into its bulwarks. It towered above a world laid to waste by centuries of war and perdition, and though that world was being rebuilt, with wondrous cities and architectural marvels blooming in the new age of Unity, nothing could match its magnificence. For it was beautiful, a euphoric vision of gold and silver. It was said that, when they had finished their task, the artisan masters of the Masonic Guilds set down their tools and wept.
By the time is was completed, it was the largest single man-made structure in known space. Its footings sank deep into the planet's mantle, its towers probed the airless limits of the atmosphere. This massive structure is today an interconnected series of continent-wide fortifications comprised of cyclopean and pyramidal structures that extend for several kilometres into the sky and for several dozen kilometres beneath the surface of Terra. The Palace is said to have 4,029,854 chambers in its entirety.
The Imperial Palace complex is divided into two security perimeters which essentially function as separate urban regions, the Outer and Inner Palaces, both of which are marked by thousands of landing pads for small craft and monstrous defensive weapons systems. Many of these defences were designed and emplaced by the Primarch Rogal Dorn at the time of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. The Imperial Palace still possesses the scars of the terrible conflict that raged around it during the Battle of Terra more than 10,000 standard years ago.
The Imperial Palace is as heavily populated and just as active as any hive city of the Imperium. In fact, it probably has a higher density of population per square mile than most hive cities. Billions of Adepts from all branches of the Adeptus Terra work in the Imperial Palace complex overseeing the affairs of Mankind. The levels and byways of the Palace can take a lifetime to learn, and only the Adeptus Custodes know them all. From the rails of high balconies are artificial ravines 500 storeys deep, filled with lights and teeming with people. Some of the great domes in the Precinct, especially the Hegemon, are so vast, they contain their own miniature weather systems. Microclimate clouds drift under painted vaults. Rain in the Hegemon is said to be a portent of good fortune.
The Outer Palace has become a grim slum inhabited by millions of destitute people who have no employment beyond the few scraps they can squeeze from the tables of the more fortunate Adepts. While the Adeptus Custodes is responsible for the overall security of the Imperial Palace and directly polices the affairs of the Inner Palace, security within the urban zone of the Outer Palace is normally provided by the Adeptus Arbites. The Arbitrators are particularly concerned with providing security outside the many Imperial governmental office buildings of the Outer Palace where thousands of people queue up every day to seek employment in the Adeptus Administratum, even if only as menial serfs. Such employment is better than the desperate fight for survival that confronts so many of the men and women who make their homes in the squalid back alleys of the Outer Palace. Arbites shock troops are always on hand to brutally suppress the inevitable queue riots that break out every day as the grim lines of the desperate poor jockey for position.
The Imperial Palace is the very heart of the Administratum, whose countless bureaucratic Adepts labour anonymously in its massive archives, some stretching many kilometres beneath the surface, to keep the galaxy-spanning empire of Mankind running smoothly in the name of the God-Emperor. Without these Adepts, the administrative machinery of the Imperium would grind to a halt, all access to the records of the past and the lines of transmission for decisions about the future cut off from the million worlds of humanity. The Inner Palace is also the seat of the Senatorum Imperialis, the twelve High Lords of Terra, who are charged with divining the Emperor's will and ruling the Imperium in his name, their decisions implemented by the Adepts of the Administratum and all the other organs of Imperial government. These twelve men and women, often drawn from the highest nobility of the human-ruled galaxy, are the single most powerful individuals in the Imperium. They ultimately concern themselves with the implementation of humanity's grand strategy, guiding the deployment of the Emperor's armies and ensuring that His will is respected on the million planets of the Milky Way Galaxy that Mankind calls home.
The Sanctum Imperialis
The Inner Palace contains the headquarters of the most important Imperial institutions, such as the Astronomican, the Senatorum Imperialis and the Sanctum Imperialis, the Throne Room of the Emperor of Mankind Himself. The entrance to the Sanctum Imperialis is protected by the Eternity Gate. Two Battle Titans of the Legio Ignatum stand guard at each side of the massive portal, sharing their eternal vigil with the 10,000 members of the Adeptus Custodes. The grand hallway of the Inner Palace that leads to the Eternity Gate, called the Hall of Heroes, is filled with the banners of every Imperial Guard Regiment and Space Marine Chapter that has ever loyally served the Emperor. At the end of the Hall of Heroes lies the Eternity Gate itself, forged of adamantium that has been heavily layered with ceramite to provide extra protection from weapons fire. The outer layer of the gate is covered in beaten gold that has been sculpted by some of the greatest artists of the Imperium into an heroic icon of the Emperor in the days of the Great Crusade, standing triumphant over all the foes of Mankind. An elite cadre of the Adeptus Custodes called the Companions, 300 of the most skilled and highly trained warriors in the Imperium, guard the Sanctum Imperialis while their brethren are responsible for the overall security of the entire Palace complex. During the Battle of Terra, the Forces of Chaos managed to penetrate the defences of the Outer Palace and make their way to the Eternity Gate, which was successfully defended by the Primarch Sanguinius while the Emperor remained seated on the Golden Throne within. Following the successful defence of the Gate, the Emperor would teleport to the battle barge Vengeful Spirit of the Warmaster Horus in orbit of Terra to bring the Horus Heresy to its climax.
Deep within the Sanctum Imperialis, protected at all costs by the Adeptus Custodes, lies the arcane mechanism of the Golden Throne, within which is interred the decaying form of the Emperor. The Master of Mankind's shattered body is kept barely alive by the life support mechanisms of the Throne so that His mind might have the necessary anchor in the physical realm so that it can remain active in the Warp, where for 10,000 years the Emperor has guided the psychic beacon of the Astronomican and defended Mankind from the machinations of Chaos. Hordes of Tech-priests from the Adeptus Mechanicus scurry about the Sanctum Imperialis, performing the myriad tasks that they do not understand but are required to keep the Golden Throne's ancient mechanisms functioning. In a large arena constructed in front of the Golden Throne, psykers brought by the Imperium's infamous Black Ships from across the galaxy are soul-bound to the Emperor so that they may enter the service of His Imperium as Sanctioned Psykers.
Notable Areas of the Imperial Palace
- Column of Glory - The Column of Glory is a massive crystalline pillar of multi-hued metals rising half a kilometre high, under a vaulted dome so lofty that clouds form to obscure its frescoed arcs. Studding the Column is hundreds of shattered suits of Power Armour belonging to Blood Angels, White Scars, and Imperial Fists Space Marines, who died defending the Imperial Palace 10,000 thousand years ago during the Battle of Terra. Within these shattered suits of war plate, the bones of these valiant Astartes still hang. Their skulls stare out with rictus grins from open faceplates. The Column of Glory stands as an eternal testament to the sacrifice the Angels of Death made in defence of the Emperor of Mankind and the homeworld of humanity. This is a scared place of pilgrimage, where crowds of young psykers, robed as acolytes, pray under the watchful gaze of their instructors. Soon these psykers are led onwards to be soul-bound, agonised and blinded, and consecrated for service to the Emperor. Squads of helmeted Adeptus Custodes stand to attention vigilantly, armed with their Guardian Spears, gilded hybrids of halberd and firearm, black cloaks aswirl around ancient, ornately carved golden Power Armour. The air is full of cloying, reeking incense and dissonant music -- gongs and harps -- which boom, twang and ripple, matching the pulse of ancient, adored machinery.
- Eternity Gate - The Eternity Gate is the final gateway into the symbolic heart of the Realm of Man, the Sanctum Imperialis, the most sacred place for humanity in the whole of the galaxy. Beyond this massive portal is where the Emperor resides upon the massive prosthetic device known as the Golden Throne. Thousands of unfurled banners line the mile-long grand hallway that leads to the Eternity Gate. These are the ancient and tattered banners of the greatest and most valiant armies to have fought for Mankind; illustrious heroes such as Dorn the Unwavering, Lord Solar Macharius, Malcador the Hero -- the list goes on -- as well as famous Imperial Guard regiments and banners of the various Space Marine Chapters. Just as these loyal servants have honoured the Emperor with their valour and sacrifice, He returns such honour. At the end of this long passageway stands the massive double-doors of the Eternity Gate itself, standing inviolable and unbreakable, forged of tempered adamantium layered with thick ceramite. The outer face of the Eternity Gate is sheathed in shimmering gold. Carved upon its surface is an ornate mosaic of the Emperor Himself, at the height of his glory during the Great Crusade, with shield and sword in hand, standing triumphant over a great serpentine beast, the embodiment of evil. Two immense Reaver-class Titans of the Legio Ignatum flanked the great archway that leads onwards, serving as columns, one blood-red, one purple. High over the archway, carved in obsidian, a massive Palatine Aquila, the wide winged double-headed eagle of the Imperium, was mounted. The bowed carapaces of these giant combat walkers sustained golden mosaic roofing in which were buried the heavy Macrocannons and multi-launchers of the Titans, just as their great armoured feet were locked under the floor. Purity Seals and devout banners dangle everywhere. By each side of the archway sags a Titan's gargantuan Power Fist which could seize and crush to liquid any unpermitted interloper. The other jointed arm of each Titan terminates in a massive, poised defence laser. Inside the jutting armoured head of each Titan, rotations of warrior Adepts of the Collegia Titanica have posted on honour-guard during the last ten millennia. For thousands of standard years these two Titans have stood as columns, immobile, statuesque, awing all who approached. Yet in an ultimate emergency their plasma generators can power up rapidly from standby mode. The electrically-motivated fibre bundles that serve these war engines as muscles could tear their heaviest weapons free from the roof, bringing tonnes crashing down as a blockade. The god-machines could then wrench their feet free and open up on any invader with devastating fire. Even on standby, the Titans' Power Fists sometimes flex and pluck a body from the floor if the devotees in the Titans' vast metallic heads see fit to demonstrate their power.
- Sanctum Imperialis - The Sanctum Imperialis is the heart of the Inner Palace, the Hall of the Golden Throne, deep within the Inner Palace past the Eternity Gate where the Emperor of Mankind resides, His dying and decaying body interred within the arcane mechanism of the Golden Throne in stasis. Only the members of the Adeptus Custodes and a few select Imperial servants are allowed to pass through the Inner Palace's Eternity Gate and enter the presence of the Emperor of Mankind. Those that do become known as Auditorii Imperator, one of the few living mortals who have had a personal audience with the Emperor of Mankind since the end of the Horus Heresy. Here, in serried ranks of unbroken valour, stand the Three Hundred -- the elite of the Adeptus Custodes, the Emperor's bodyguard, called the Companions. They stand eternal vigil over the Master of Mankind, while the rest of their fellow superhuman warriors stand guard throughout the continent-spanning complex of the Imperial Palace. Although billions of people work in the Palace complex, very few have ever had the honour of stepping within the holy chambers of the Hall of the Golden Throne uninvited, one of these select mortals being the Inquisitor Jaq Draco.
- Senatorum Imperialis - The Senatorum Imperialis is the current governing body of the Imperium. Comprised of 12 of the most powerful members of the various Adepta that are the cornerstones of the Imperium, this council makes up the High Lords of Terra. The Senatorum Imperialis meets within the sacred chambers of the Senate located within the Imperial Palace. It is there that the High Lords are tasked with interpreting the Emperor's will and enacting His rule across the largest empire the galaxy has ever known.
- Tower of Heroes - Amongst the thousand of minarets, towers and spires that rise from the Imperial Palace and breach Terra's ever-thinning cloud cover, one, and only one, of these towers stands out from its gold and marbled kindred as it is coloured jet black. It is called the Tower of Heroes. The summit of this looming structure is capped by a bell tower. The belfry itself is the size of a cathedral and houses a single bell forged of unassuming, commonplace metals, marked by the stains and patinas of time's eroding touch. This lone bell is the size of a Titan, and attended by hundreds of men, women and Servitors whose existence is entirely devoted to maintaining the sacred instrument's function. This is the Bell of Lost Souls, a colossal iron bell that is as massive as a building and adorned with dark runes. The Bell of Lost Souls tolls only when the greatest of the Imperium of Man's heroes perish and can be heard by millions of people across the face of Terra. It rarely rings, but when it does, all resident Imperial Palace servants must be evacuated and sealed within reinforced shelters to prevent the annihilation of their eardrums and subsequent death through lung rupture and embolism. Among its many legends is the holiest of all; that when the bell rings, the Emperor hears the sound even in His long slumber upon the Golden Throne, and sheds a single tear.
- Pillar of Bone - The Pillar of Bone is believed to be a monument raised on Terra to the Imperial Fists' courage in an unnamed campaign. In reality it is actually a sacred relic to those privy to the truth within the Imperial Fists. The Pillar is the last remnant of the once-great Imperial Fists fortress-monastery on Terra. It was destroyed during the Horus Heresy in the midst of the Battle of Terra, but, to most of the huddled masses of the Imperium, the Heresy is now no more than a legend and few would dare to openly claim that the Forces of Chaos had ever set foot on the sacred ground of Terra. In the holes torn from the column by the Bolter fire of the Traitor Legions were the scrimshawed hands of Imperial Fists Battle-Brothers. Part of the sacred duties given to Imperial Fists Chaplains was to bring new relics of the Chapter to the Pillar, but at times they would also recruit those pilgrims who came to Terra from all across the galaxy into the Chapter if they were deemed worthy of becoming Aspirants. It was at this sacred site that future-Captain (and Imperial Fists' hero) Darnath Lysander was recruited after he had survived multiple misfortunes, including the slaughter of his entire family, to make it to the holy soil of blessed Terra. It seemed to the Imperial Fists' Chaplain that recruited him that the young pilgrim surely had the blessings of Rogal Dorn upon him. Such intuition would be proved right again and again during Captain Lysander's glorious career.
- House of Weapons - The House of Weapons is the ancient formidable armoury of the Imperial Palace. The Adeptus Custodes and the Imperial Fists Chapter are known to store their arms and armour there. Within the arming chambers of the lower levels, Servitors and penal slaves ritually plate squads of Astartes, anointing them with oils and whispers as they lock each piece of armour in place. As solitary beings, the Custodes do not surround themselves with slaves and Servitors, aids and handservants. They prefer to armour themselves, alone, pragmatically and without ceremony.
- Tower of Hegemon - This tower is where the Custodes keep their office of watch. Within the tower lies the Watchroom -- the nerve-center for security operations for the Adeptus Custodes and the Imperial Palace complex. The central cogitation consoles stream constant divergent data elements and run comparison/contrast programs. The Watchroom's codifier assembly trawls and pans the global data sea and the Unified Biometric Verification System, grouping together reams of disparate elements, making connections and following traces. With this elaborate security system set in place, every day, a billion clues and a million secrets are analysed and examined by the Custodes watch, sifted with acute, painstaking precision through the ever-shifting, fluid levels of Terra's information sphere for any internal threats to the Emperor's personal security. Every sixty minutes, the Watchroom prioritises a dozen of the most sensitive findings for special attention.
- Annapurna Gate - One of the enormous gates of the Outer Palace. Throughout the Age of the Imperium, millions of pilgrims have flocked to Terra simply to see its exquisite craftsmanship. The orbis and lazulite work encrusting this gate took Menzo of Travert 30 standard years to complete. It was said that its ornamentation surpassed even the Eternity Gate in pure aesthetic. During the fortifications of the Imperial Palace's defences following the outbreak of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium, Rogal Dorn had the Annapurna Gate carefully dismantled with great care and stored within the Palace's vaults. He intended to have it rebuilt following an Imperial victory over the upstart Warmaster Horus and his cohorts of Traitors. It is unknown whether these stored elements of the gate survived the massive orbital bombardment during the Battle of Terra or whether they are still kept within the confines of some great sealed chamber within the bowels of the Imperial Palace.
- Lion's Gate - One of the enormous portals into the Outer Palace, the Lion's Gate overlooked the fields of the Brahmaputra Plateau, serving as one of two massive spaceports that serviced the Imperial Palace. It had once been a thing of magnificence, a massive gate topped with two gilded beasts rising up to lock claws in a feral dispute. During the fortification of the Imperial Palace in the early 31st Millennium after the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, Rogal Dorn had these two great beasts replaced with giant grey donjons stippled with casemates and Macro-gun ports. A curtain wall of bleak rockcrete encircled the gate, its edge fletched with Void Shield vanes like the spines of some prehistoric reptile. During the Battle of Terra, the Lion's Gate spaceport was the site of a massive battle between the White Scars and the overwhelming hordes of the Traitor Legions. The Primarch Jaghatai Khan spearheaded a daring night attack comprised of his White Scars, surviving remnants of the 1st Tank Division and elements of the surviving Imperial Army regiments against the surprised Traitors. Throwing a defensive perimeter around the spaceport, he held it against all counter-attacks, halving the flow of Traitor Legionaries and materiel towards the Imperial Palace at a stroke. This key victory would later prove to be a pivotal moment in the Imperial defence of Terra.
- Eternity Wall - One of the enormous gates leading into the Outer Palace, the Eternity Wall was one of the two main spaceports utilised by the inhabitants of the Imperial Palace.
- Investiary - The Investiary was a massive amphitheatre open to the night sky, its broad space once containing the statues of the twenty Primarchs on ouslite plinths in a silent ring. The Investiary was two kilometres in diameter. Under the light of the glittering stars, it felt like an arena, where twenty warriors had gathered to face combat. During the time of the Great Crusade, the second and eleventh plinths had been vacant for a long time. No one ever spoke of these two absent brothers of the lost II and XI Space Marine Legions. First Captain Sigismund of the Imperial Fists Legion later urged his father Rogal Dorn to remove the effigies of the traitorous Primarchs who betrayed the Emperor from the Investiary. He had offered to do the work himself, which made the Emperor laugh. During that time, they were temporarily shrouded. Following the end of the Horus Heresy, the effigies of the Traitor Primarchs were removed as well.
- Inner Gardens - Within the confines of the Outer Palace were the legendary Inner Gardens. In this garden was erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars; the Inner gardens were a pensile paradise and were constantly replenished with all sorts of flora and fauna drawn from across Terra and the human-settled galaxy. The Inner Gardens sloped like a hillside and several parts of the structure rose from one another, tier upon tier, the appearance of the whole resembling that of a theatre. Unfortunately, during the Battle of Terra when the forces of the Warmaster Horus breached the walls of the Inner Palace, the battle raged across the grounds of the Inner Garden, turning the vast parkland into a charnel house. It is unknown whether or not this beautiful edifice was rebuilt following the end of the Horus Heresy.
- Hall of Leng - The Hall of Leng was a favourite place of the Emperor when He still walked amongst men. When He was not sequestered in secret toil in the deep, private crypts of the Palace on his Imperial Webway Project, he was known to spend a great deal of time in the Hall, measuring the angles of space and time. It was said that the past and future co-mingled at the site, and had done so since primordial times, before the place had owned the name Leng, before the Emperor had been born, before a roof had been raised above it, or human eyes had seen it. The Hall of Leng, long-beamed and dark, was simply a domestication of one of the Materium's myriad physical anomalies, filled with a tangible darkness that made many people feel uncomfortable within its confines. The immense Hall was starlight-dark and silent as midnight. It was decorated with columns, ancient statuary, and metallic assayers and binding apparatus set up by antiquarians of previous epochs that had never been removed.
- City of Sight - The City of Sight was built within a section of the Emperor's own Imperial Palace in the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains. This was the main headquarters of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. During those bygone days, the City of Sight appeared as if there was no trace that anyone lived in that forsaken part of the palace. Potential Sanctioned Psykers spent many years within its bleak towers, learning how to harness their abilities for the betterment of Mankind. Where other regions of the palace were celebrations of the Unity wrought by the extension of the Emperor's rule over all of Terra, the builders of the City of Sight seemed to have gone out of their way to craft something calculated to weigh on the soul. Beyond the domain of the astro-telepaths, the architecture of the palace was raised up in glorification of Mankind’s achievements, its statuary fashioned to remind the grateful populace of Terra of all that had been rebuilt in the wake of the terrible, world-spanning wars that had almost dragged the human species down into extinction. But none of this could be found in the City of Sight.
- Codex Imperialis, pp. 3, 15
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 134, 137, 139, 163, 165, 168, 187
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition), 100-102, 105
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (4th Edition), pp. 92, 94
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook - Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 135, 137, 139
- White Dwarf 268 (US), "Assault on Holy Terra - The Battle for the Emperor's Palace," by William King, pp. 22-29
- White Dwarf 99 (US), "Index Astartes, Legion of the Damned"
- Inquisition War Omnibus (Novel) by Ian Watson
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley, "Blood Games" by Dan Abnett
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Dark King - The Lightning Tower (Audio Book), by Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill
- The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The Emperor's Gift (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden