- "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave Dunwall. No, Sir, when a man is tired of Dunwall, he is tired of life; for there is in Dunwall all that life can afford."
- —Conversations of a Natural Philosopher, extract from a popular pamphlet
Dunwall, the capital of Gristol and the Empire of the Isles, is an industrial whaling city situated on the Wrenhaven River. Its strategic importance has made it the target of numerous events throughout recorded history. It is the primary setting for the first Dishonored game, as well as The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches story DLC packs. It is also briefly visited in Dishonored 2.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Society
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Law and Order
- 6 Architecture
- 7 Technology and Transportation
- 8 Trivia
- 9 Gallery
- 10 References
Dunwall is one of the largest cities in the Empire, spanning an area of 19.65 square miles, and sitting at an elevation of 125 feet. It is divided in two by the Wrenhaven, a vast river which serves as the main thoroughfare for whaling trawlers and other commercial traffic. Kingsparrow Island, located where the river meets the sea, is the only island known to exist off the city. Dunwall is dominated by rocky outcroppings and numerous cliffs, which are topped by multiple factories and manors.
Dunwall is an expansive city comprised of numerous districts and locations: industrial, commercial and residential. The districts north of the Wrenhaven are generally wealthier than those located on its southern counterpart. The Estate District, home of the aristocracy, and Dunwall Tower, the seat of the Empire, are located on the north side, dominated by the Clocktower of Dunwall, the tallest building in the city, save for Dunwall Tower itself. Industrial districts such as Slaughterhouse Row and Drapers Ward are mostly located near the river, facilitating transport by trade vessels. Transport of goods and people is also assured by rails circulating all over the city. Lastly, Kaldwin's Bridge joins each side of the river while still allowing access to large vessels inland.
- Wrenhaven River: The main river flowing through Dunwall. Used mainly by whaling trawlers to access the slaughterhouses alongside the river.
- Dunwall Sewers: The city's waterworks used to evacuate wastewater directly into the Wrenhaven. They cover most of Dunwall's underground.
- Distillery District: A district named after the old Dunwall Whiskey Distillery, and known for the rampant criminality in its slums.
- Holger Square: Location of the Office of the High Overseer. It serves as headquarters for the Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman in Dunwall.
- Estate District: A wealthy, upper class district housing the estates of Dunwall's most prestigious families, such as the Boyles and the Morays.
- Rudshore Financial District: Dunwall's financial heart, including the main establishment of the Greaves Lightning Oil company and the Rudshore Chamber of Commerce. It was colloquially referred to as the "Flooded District" after a devastating flood during the Rat Plague, and used to round up plague victims, both dead and alive.
- Old Port District: A harbor quarantined during the Rat Plague. It housed the Hound Pits Pub, headquarters of the Loyalist Conspiracy.
- Slaughterhouse Row: An industrial district of slaughterhouses nested in a bay of the river. It had some of the most modern whale slaughterhouses in its heyday, including the Rothwild Slaughterhouse.
- Legal District: Home to several major law offices in Dunwall, such as the estate of the crooked City Barrister Arnold Timsh.
- Drapers Ward: A major textile production area reconverted into a high-class clothing center. It declined during the plague crisis and was violently disputed between the Hatters and the Dead Eels. The district regained its prestige in later years.
- Mutcherhaven District: An area north from Dunwall, outside the city walls along the course of the Wrenhaven. Home to several large estates, such as the abandoned Brigmore Manor.
- Civil Services District: An area home to various offices and courts dedicated to maintaining Dunwall's bureaucracy and logistics. It was established when Dunwall was officially named capital of the Empire of the Isles. During the plague crisis, emergency grain rationing was set up in the district to help citizens survive.
- Tailors' District: An unseen district where a protest for more food, elixir rations and better treatment was severely repressed by the City Watch under Burrows's regency. It is described to be similar to Drapers Ward, but instead of factories where children and unskilled laborers toiled to produce cloth, it was home to expert tailors who designed such cloth into clothing. 
- Dunwall Water District: Less of a "district" in the traditional sense, and more of a collection of various authorities and responsibilities dedicated to maintaining Dunwall's canals and sewers. Their offices are located in the Civil Services District.
- Rust District: An industrial district on the riverside where the Berrington Ironworks are located.
- New Mercantile District: A large residential village north from the Estate District past the old walls, emptied during the plague crisis and incorporated into the city's new expansion plans circa 1851.
- Old Waterfront: An industrial district on the riverside, east of Drapers Ward. It consists of several factories, including a small whale slaughterhouse.
- Tower District: The district around Dunwall Tower, with businesses such as the Boyle Industries office and the Dunwall Courier, and various docks.
- Dunwall Harbor: The city's harbor spreads along each shore of the Wrenhaven, with numerous docks boarding the city's riverside districts. It starts upriver, west from Slaughterhouse Row and continues past the Old Port and Rudshore. In 1852, the ISS Jessamine Kaldwin was anchored there after its launch.
Monuments And Other Important Landmarks
- Dunwall Tower: Home and central seat of the Empire's rulers.
- Coldridge Prison: Main prison in Gristol holding Dunwall's criminals.
- The Golden Cat: An upscale bathhouse renowned for its essential part in Dunwall history, famous for theater and burlesque. It is Dunwall's most famous brothel, and the best-known tavern in the Isles.
- Kaldwin's Bridge: A large bridge spanning across the Wrenhaven. It holds several warehouses, apartments and estates, such as Anton Sokolov's Safehouse.
- Kingsparrow Island: A small island off the coast of Dunwall. It serves as a military fortress and holds a luxury penthouse atop the monumental lighthouse.
- The Academy of Natural Philosophy: Home to the intellectual elite of Dunwall and the chief authority of science across the Empire.
- Clocktower: The Clocktower is one of Dunwall's most famous landmark, located on the northern border of the Estate District and towering the city.
- Gristol Parliament: The seat of Dunwall's government, where Gristol's aristocracy gathers to vote on issues and make decisions regarding the island.
- Wyrmwood Way: A street where fringe alchemists, bone charm crafters and anyone dabbling into the occult and the superstitious gather, despite the occasional raids by Overseers. The surrounding area is referred to as Wyrmwood, and is part of Dunwall's arcane district.
- Old Whaling Ship Hulks: Decommissioned whaling trawlers gathered downriver of the city. They were abandoned by their bankrupted company and were never broken down. They now serve as hideouts for illegal activities.
Early History and Evolution
The present site that Dunwall occupies was once home to an ancient civilization that collapsed for unknown reasons. Having existed approximately 1000 years before disappearing around the 9th century, its people worshiped the Outsider and inscribed whale bones with his mark. The ruins were only discovered in 1814, deep under present-day Dunwall. Many trinkets and artifacts from that era still wash up along Dunwall's shores.
Dunwall as a city always thrived from the bounty of the seas. It started as a few shacks for local fishermen before developing into a small whaling town. The Academy of Natural Philosophy was established there in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the War of Four Crowns 50 years later that the city became the seat of power for both Gristol and the nascent Empire.
The city was severely threatened during the Morley Insurrection, and the stability of its infrastructure was questioned. Emperor Euhorn Kaldwin, first of his name, undertook various urban projects to improve Dunwall and created the City Watch in 1809. Furthermore, the discovery of whale oil's potential as a fuel source by natural philosopher Esmond Roseburrow led to the emergence of various technological marvels, from mechanized whaling trawlers to electric lighting and security devices, many created by the inventor Anton Sokolov. This set an industrial boom across the Empire in 1825, further increasing Dunwall's wealth.
The Rat Plague (1835-1837)
The rat plague, a virulent and deadly disease originally from the distant Pandyssian Continent, emerged in Dunwall's poorest districts and decimated the city's population. Following a plea for aid from Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, the other nations of the Empire blockaded Dunwall to prevent the disease from spreading outside the city. Although the Empress rejected early efforts to establish quarantines and martial law to combat the plague, her assassination allowed Lord Regent Hiram Burrows to enforce aggressive policies, including using military technology for social control. Desperation within the city led to riots and chaos as Dunwall's government became increasingly oppressive and obtrusive. Whole areas of the cities became depopulated as neighbors, family, and friends succumbed to the disease, either dying or turning into weepers.
Walls of light controlled the flow of movement within the city, and the City Watch patroled the streets with a strict curfew imposed from dusk to dawn. An ever-increasing wealth gap secured health for those fortunate to have enough money, as the upper classes and their retinues hoard the elixirs that stave off the plague. Victims of the plague, both alive and dead, were deported to the Flooded District, devastated as a result of poor maintenance. Gang activity became rampant, strengthened by lax law enforcement and the collapse of industry within the city. Amid the chaos, corruption thrived as the City Watch pulled its efforts back to guarding more affluent areas of the city, leaving uncontrolled areas into the hand of numerous gangs.
In reality, the rat plague was the brainchild of Hiram Burrows, who had introduced the disease in an effort to consolidate political power and seize control of the Imperial throne from then Empress Jessamine Kaldwin I. After a successful and short-lived coup, the efforts of Corvo Attano and the Loyalist Conspiracy to restore Jessamine's daughter, Emily Kaldwin to the throne succeeded, deposing Burrows and restoring stability to the Empire.
Restoration and Expansion (1837-1852)
- "We need to keep a watchful eye over Dunwall. Even after all these years, parts of the city are still in recovery after the terrors of the Rat Plague. It can be a slow process, but while we are rebuilding these areas, nothing must interfere. The people need confidence in the Empire, and—I'm sure you understand—confidence in me."
- —Empress Emily Kaldwin, 8th Day, Month of Darkness, 1851
The end of the Lord Regent Hiram Burrow's corrupt reign and the coronation of Emily Kaldwin marked the beginning of Dunwall's restoration under her rule. The Flooded District was drained and reconstructed, regaining its place as the city's throbbing financial heart. Free movement was reestablished throughout the Empire; trade resumed, and with it came travelers, foreigners and dignitaries. Their arrival brought a new prosperity to the city and the Imperial Court, allowing new planning projects and the expansion of Dunwall past the old northern walls. Neighboring towns and villages such as the New Mercantile District were integrated in the city, some of them having been victims of the plague and left unoccupied for years. Within fourteen years the rat plague was all but a distant memory.
The Greaves Lightning Oil company began shuttering numerous factories in Slaughterhouse Row a few of years after the restoration of Empress Emily Kaldwin; focusing their efforts on modern installations closer to the harbor mouth. As a result, much of the city's old industrial heart had been mothballed. Furthermore, the city slowly became more and more gentrified with each passing year.
The fortunes of Dunwall's criminal gangs waxed and waned in the years following the Lord Regent's rule, with many worn down by a newly reinvigorated and reorganized City Watch. As a result, numerous gangs left Dunwall for easier cities in the Empire, with some rumored to resettle as far as Karnaca.
- "In Dunwall, things are always tangled up like a bag of snakes."
Dunwall is known for extreme class division and xenophobia. The impoverished masses form the lowest stratum of society, and during the Rat Plague are the target of biological warfare aimed at eradicating poverty by decimating the underclass. During the plague, survivors represent those who have survived the plague but are downtrodden and oppressed. They are encouraged to join the Navy or, in the case of children, the Abbey in return for protection from the plague.
The aristocracy continued to thrive even during the prevalence of the plague, many of them belonging to influential families such as the Carmines, Inchmouths, Boyles and Pendletons. Individuals from other nations within the Empire are not highly regarded, and are not often seen among the privileged classes; Corvo Attano and Anton Sokolov are the only known exceptions, both of whom experience degradation due to their nationality. Further, it is common belief that marriage between members of Gristol's aristocracy and people of other nations "dirties the blood."
Adherence to the Abbey of the Everyman is widespread, yet cultists of the Outsider prevail in the city's many dark corners. Cuisine is also divided - for the downtrodden, there are cheap canned goods and rations, and for Dunwall's upper classes, expensive foods, whiskeys and ciders are imported from across the Isles.
In 1837, Dunwall had a total population of 202,900, with an average density of 10,620 per square mile. The total county population totaled 682,500. Prior to the Rat Plague, Dunwall had a population of around two million people. 
Law and Order
The Dunwall City Watch is the primary law enforcement agency for the entire city, with three different tiers: the Lower Watch, the Guards, the Officers and a specialized rank, the tallboys. The Wrenhaven River Patrol enforces Dunwall's laws across the River and its tributaries. The soldiers of the Combined Armies of the Empire work with the Watch. During the reign of Hiram Burrows, the Abbey of the Everyman's Overseers worked alongside the Watch, given all the powers of a civil police, though they largely deal with crimes of heresy. Some of Dunwall's largest criminal organizations include the Bottle Street Gang, Dead Eels, the Hatters, and Parliament Street Cutters.
During the rat plague, Arnold Timsh served in the newly-created position of City Barrister, and was responsible for confiscating properties left abandoned during the plague crisis, and to incorporate those holdings into state hands if no owner came forwards. The Responsible Citizens Group reported directly to the Royal Spymaster, and were tasked with reporting on suspicious activities.
The City Planning Department is one of the civil-oriented departments of Dunwall's administration, and oversaw the reinforcement of the Dunwall Sewers during the reign of Emperor Euhorn Kaldwin the First.
Much of Dunwall's architecture is determined by wealth and status. Areas of affluence such as the Estate District exhibit the city's most elaborate architectural influences, with tall columns, marble staircases, large gardens and ornamental guilding. Poorer districts are comprised of simpler, more utilitarian structures. The latter also experience the heaviest deterioration during the plague, due to lack of civil maintenance; the Rudshore Financial District and Drapers Ward act as major exceptions following the breaking of the river barriers and the rise of gang warfare, respectively.
Technology and Transportation
Dunwall, being one of the most industrialized cities of the Isles, possesses numerous advanced technologies from the mundane to the sophisticated. Electric lighting and heaters are common in almost every home, while for security purposes, walls of light and arc pylons are utilized to control movement. The most infamous of these technologies is the tallboy, a heavily armored soldier armed with explosive arrows, walking on motorized stilts. Almost all of these technologies are powered by whale oil.
Due to Dunwall's port environment, boats, from small motor boats to massive, hulking whaling trawlers, form the bulk of transportation in and out of Dunwall. On the ground, railway tracks provide transport for the City Watch and smaller rail cars are used by the aristocracy as a means of personal transport. Elevated rail lines provide fast and easy transport for people, cargo and even corpses.
- Dunwall is strongly inspired by London and Edinburgh, as well as British and American whaling towns as they existed in the 19th century.
- Further allusions to London can be seen from the commentary of a Natural Philosopher regarding Dunwall: "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave Dunwall. No, Sir, when a man is tired of Dunwall, he is tired of life; for there is in Dunwall all that life can afford." This quote is almost identical to a popular quote regarding London, made by literary figure and author Samuel Johnson, in 1777.
- "Dun" is Old English for gray or drab, and is also a Scottish/Irish Gaelic term for "fort". Both of these definitions hint at aspects of the city.
- The collectible item Medicinal Herbs (valued 20 coins) are Nettle Seeds made in Dunwall.
- The compass on the city map in Dishonored 2 is wrong and points to west. This is confirmed by directions given in texts from Dishonored 2 and the first two novels.
- Much of Dunwall's architecture is influenced by a mixture of real-world architectural influences: Dunwall Tower exhibits Gothic architecture, the Golden Cat resembles Art Nouveau, and the Boyle Mansion is heavily Victorian. The majority of housing is influenced by Victorian (primarily Jacobean revival) style and is comprised of a handful different designs repeated throughout the city. Industrial influences are also present, such as in the expansion of Dunwall Tower, Kaldwin's Bridge, and quarantine barriers, while Coldridge Prison and the Office of the High Overseer take heavily after Brutalist architecture.
- The location of Dunwall on the newest map of the Empire was slightly misplaced. According to the other maps of Gristol, its pin should have been placed further left along the coast, where the Wrenhaven meets the sea.
Concept Art and Renders
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 359
- Map in Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 26
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p.173
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p.135
- Dishonored Roleplaying Game, p. 119
- Dishonored Roleplaying Game, p.120
- Dishonored Roleplaying Game, pp. 121-122
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 46
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 71
- Letter from Rebecca Fletcher
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 34
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p.46
- Dishonored: The Wyrmwood Deceit, Issue Four
- Timeline in Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
- Timeline in Dishonored: The Dunwall Archives
- "...A thousand years ago there was another city on this spot. The people carved the bones of whales and inscribed them with my Mark. Children still find them washed up in the river-mud..."
- Official Dishonored website: Discover Dunwall - Energy
- Dishonored Roleplaying Game, p.111-114
- The Sewers Beneath Dunwall
- The Lord Regent's Confession
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 91
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 35
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 47-48
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 36
- Dishonored: The Corroded Man, p. 61
- "Citizens displaced by quarantine measures are reminded that the Dunwall Navy has bunks, food and salary, and in some cases, legal amnesty available for qualified applicants. Report to a recruiter to learn more about the opportunities in service to the Lord Regent."
- "Attention Dunwall Citizens: You are urged to consider presenting children between the ages of seven and ten to the Abbey to be tested. As Overseers, they will be provided for, and serve the wellbeing of the community and the city."
- The Royal Protector
- "Yes, Sokolov's a foreigner - with the looks and manner of a Tyvian Swineherd. But he is also a great genius."
- Dishonored Roleplaying Game, p. 118
- "...in this continuing crisis, the Overseers of the Abbey of the Everyman remain in service of the state, and are empowered to enforce whenever and wherever necessary..."
- The City Barrister
- Interview with Havey Smith after the 2016 Bethesda E3 Showcase
- When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life: Samuel Johnson