No one can claim to have traveled the Northern Realms who has not been to Novigrad. If I were forced to list what during my many meanderings has made the greatest impression on me, it would be precisely this great, and yet at the same time free, city.
A metropolis worthy of the Empire, its only flaw is that the civilization Nilfgaard carries within her has not yet enlightened it. That is why hordes of reactionary cultists of the Eternal Fire dwell in the midst of its excellent buildings and superb commercial infrastructure. One feels as though superstition is how the local Hierarch and his temple guard cement their power over the city dwellers. And many they are to control, for the city counts no less than thirty thousands of inhabitants.
While strolling through its fabulous port, surrounded by marvels of architecture, it is hard to imagine that centuries ago Novigrad was a mere minor elven townstead. When the city fell into the hands of the Nordlings, its problems grew exponentially, for as is well known the people of the North can do a great many things, but peaceful and orderly cohabitation is not one of them. And so Novigrad first belonged to Redania, and then fell under Temerian rule, until finally, after endless compromises and bargains, it at last became a Free City.
But is the city truly free? I dare to doubt it. Redanian influence makes itself felt too strongly on every street corner, and the fact that the city is located within Radovid's territory speaks for itself...
While wandering the city's streets I came across four water mills, eight banks and nearly nineteen pawn shops. There are also a great many houses of simple pleasures such as taverns and brothels, and Novigrad's commitment to matters of faith is borne witness to by the fact that the city contains no less than - I kid you not - nineteen temples to the Eternal Fire!
What more can be said... I think Novigrad has all the makings of the capital of the world, and perhaps that is what it will one day become. First, however, someone needs to bring order to within her walls.