- Baronet Solmon Menander, Taldan Bureaucrat
Oppara is Taldor's thriving capital - a shining monument to the grandeur and majesty once common to the entire Taldan empire. Seated on the black cliffs of the River Porthmos in Opparos Prefecture, Oppara bears all the gravitas and extravagance that 6,000 years of history have conferred upon it. The roofs and domes of Oppara were once plated with gold, earning it the nickname "the Gilded City," and though past rulers stripped the gold away long ago to pay for the empire's follies, the wealth and decadance of Taldor's capital keep the spirit of that name alive.
As the economic and political hub of Taldor, Oppara is the beating heart of the empire and the center of Taldan culture. Twin harbors provide goods to the city's thriving marketplaces and restaurants, and they're often so crammed with ships that the river cannot be seen. Public fountains and marble statues can be found at many major crossroads and plazas. Columned villas and grandiose temples from every age of Taldor's history line the streets, and even the humbler merchant districts are holdovers from an unparalleled age of glory. Most of Oppara's buildings are made of carved stone, and the roads are paved with either intricate mosaics or well-fitted cobblestones. Much of the city's advanced public works have stood the test of time, including its labyrinthine sewer system and the network of stone gutters that keep the streets clear of summer rain. The Grand Bridge of the Empire, emerging from the southeastern shore of the city's heart to cross the massive Porthmos, remains one of the most ambitious and impressive engineering marvels in the Inner Sea. Two magically animated lion sculptures stand sentinel atop Oppara's main gate, offering a glimpse into the greatness that current lies dormant within the empire. At night, the city is lit with tens of thousands of lanterns, causing it to shine like a beacon in the darkness.
Oppara's current mix of glory and degradation stems from its past, as the city's triumphs and failures over thousands of years have left indelible marks that shape its present-day society. An excessive, even blind pride in one's heritage is a cornerstone of Taldan identity, and the empire's slow degradation has only exacerbated the issue as nobles and commoners alike make desperate attempts to cling to their glorified, self-aggrandizing versions of the nation's history and its role in shaping civilizations across the continent. Though viewed as pompous folly by those from neighboring countries, this extreme national pride grants Taldor remarkable stability, with loyalty and patriotism bridging many of the gaps caused by the nation's extreme stratification of power and wealth. Yet this pride can also prove the bane of Taldor, and by extension its capital, as nobles convince themselves they rule over an empire at the height of its power and refuse to update the country's archaic social structures. Living in Oppara - an economic, military, and political powerhouse - adds fuel to these delusions, as the privileged few allow the heights of the city's decadence to mask the depths of its decline.