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Type Settlement
Continent Tamriel
Province Skyrim
Hold The Rift
Subregions Smokefrost Peaks
Appears in Arena, Skyrim, ESO
Riften circa 4E 201

Riften (sometimes spelled Rifton[1][2][3]) is the capital city of the Hold known as The Rift in southeastern Skyrim.[4] Built on the shores of Lake Honrich, nestled within the Fall Forest,[5] Riften lies close to the province's borders with Cyrodiil and Morrowind,[6] and enjoys robust trade with the latter via the nearby pass through the Velothi Mountains.[7][8]


By the mid-Second Era, Riften was a small but burgeoning city and a major hub of activity for trade caravans and travelers from Morrowind. It was also home to branches of the both the Fighters and Mages Guilds, and was a relative bright spot amidst the quiet wilderness of The Rift. The city also had a small sewer system used only as a "rat pathway", but the Thieves Guild believed it was likely to be expanded as Riften grew and could be used in their activities.[9] In 2E 582, the Order of the Black Worm raised the spirit of Sinmur the Terrible, a legendary Giant chieftain who had been slain by Ysgramor. Sinmur rampaged across The Rift to Mount Trolhetta, attacking Riften in the process. The city's northern wall was breached, and several buildings and farmsteads were devastated.[10]

In the early Third Era, Riften had become well-known as the base of operations for the Thieves Guild in Skyrim. It was there that Barenziah joined the Thieves Guild when she returned to Morrowind from her exile in Skyrim.[11][12][13]

Riften continued to prosper well into the Fourth Era, when both its size and affluence reached their zenith. However, the city fell into a period of decline in 4E 98, when the Jarl was assassinated and succeeded by Hosgunn Crossed-Daggers. Although many believed Hosgunn was responsible for the previous Jarl's murder, he used the city guard to brutally quash any dissent. Over the course of his long reign, the new Jarl imposed harsh curfews and unreasonably high taxes on the people, spending most of the accrued gold on the construction of a massive, lavish wooden castle for himself. As Riften sank into squalor and its people succumbed to disease and famine, the city finally reached its breaking point and a popular revolt occurred in 4E 129. Hosgunn's castle was set alight, starting a conflagration that quickly consumed the entire city; although Jarl Hosgunn's tyranny was brought to an end that night, many citizens perished, and Riften was left in ruins. The city was rebuilt over the next five years into a smaller, gloomy, fortress-like town of wooden structures and rough stonework, which it remained as of 4E 201.[7]



  • Arena was originally conceived as a fighting game featuring a tournament that took the player to each of Tamriel's cities to challenge different gladiatorial teams. According to a file from that stage of development left behind in the final game, Riften's gladiatorial team would have been called "the Furies".[UOL 1]


  1. ^ Biography of Barenziah, v 1Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe
  2. ^ Guard dialogue in Skyrim
  3. ^ The Real Barenziah, Part IIIPlitinius Mero
  4. ^ The Holds of Skyrim
  5. ^ Nords of SkyrimHrothmund Wolf-Heart
  6. ^ Map of Skyrim
  7. ^ a b Of Crossed DaggersDwennon Wyndell
  8. ^ Scourge of the Gray QuarterFrilgeth Horse-Breaker
  9. ^ Rivers of Profit in RiftenEyes-With-Intent
  10. ^ Events of ESO
  11. ^ The Real Barenziah, v 2 — Anonymous
  12. ^ Fall from GloryNithilis Lidari
  13. ^ The Nightingales Vol. 2Gallus Desidenius

Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.

  1. ^ Original TES: Arena texts at the Imperial Library