Avatar Aang explores the whole world during his quest to master the elements. He visits Kyoshi Island, a Fire Nation temple, the Northern Water Tribe, Omashu, and the world's biggest city, Ba Sing Se. Nestled in the middle of the Earth Kingdom, Ba Sing Se is a metropolis unlike any other, and Team Avatar simply can't believe their eyes when they visit.
This city is one of the most monumental places in the entire Avatar world, and the show dedicates many seasons to exploring its urban landscape. Even Zuko and Iroh travel there, and Azula and her squadmates pay a visit — though not as tourists! Here are some essential facts about the city of Ba Sing Se.
10 It's over 5,000 years old
How long has the colossal city of Ba Sing Se stood? No one knows the exact figure, but at the very least, we are certain that this city is five millennia old. That is based on some world maps of that age that Wan Shi Tong has in his spirit library, and all of them show Ba Sing Se, right there in the Earth Kingdom. The city probably doesn't predate Avatar Wan's time, but it's likely that not long after humanity left the lion-turtles, the earthbenders assembled to create this metropolis, one brick at a time.
9 Its Sheer Size
Any world map is bound to show Ba Sing Se, and for good reason. Not only is it the seat of the Earth Kingdom throne, but it's enormous. It's much bigger than even Zaofu or Republic City in later decades, and if these maps are even halfway accurate, Ba Sing Se must be over one hundred miles in diameter. It has room for plenty of farmland, too, and from any vantage point, a person can't see from one side of Ba Sing Se to the other. The city is its own universe.
8 Its "never conquered" streak
How do you conquer a city like this? However old Ba Sing Se was when Aang visited, that was the duration of its "never conquered" streak, which must be a few millennia at the very least. A few centuries ago, Chin the Conquerer tried to take it, but Avatar Kyoshi made sure that didn't happen. Later, the Fire Nation drill made unprecedented progress in taking the city, but Avatar Aang foiled that plot. It took the cooperation of Azula and Long Feng to take the city. Azula secured Fire Nation dominance when she turned on Long Feng soon after.
7 Forbidden City and the palace
Pictured is the Earth Queen, and where do kings and queens reside? Ba Sing Se makes a number of references to real-life China, and that starts with the massive palace in the city's upper ring. It's meant to be like China's Forbidden City, a palace that no commoner may approach. When Aang and his group made a combat drop on the city grounds with Apa, they faced a legion of earthbenders determined to keep them out. Fortunately, Aang's team overcame them (no casualties) to reach Earth King Kuei and speak to him.
6 The great walls
Many historic cities in the real world kept intruders out with walls of stone or even wood or dirt, and everyone knows about the Great Wall of China. Built in pieces of the centuries, this wall is a world monument, and the fictional Ba Sing Se has a similar wall for its outer ring. Extending an incredible length, this roughly circular wall has kept intruders out for millennia, and it's the main line of defense against any invader. Not even General Iroh could breach those walls properly, and the drill, as mentioned earlier, was stopped before it could bore all the way through and let an invasion force in.
5 Its own farms
Ba Sing Se is a city-state on an incredible scale, and like any city-state, it is fully independent. Most likely, very few exports or imports pass through its walls, and Ba Sing Se has enough factories and office buildings to keep the entire city running. The same is true for farmland, and the outer ring has enough arable land to feed the entire population. Even as the rest of the Earth Kingdom fell bit by bit to the Fire Nation, Ba Sing Se stood tall. Eventually, it was the last holdout against the Fire Nation in the entire Earth Kingdom.
4 Monorail transit
Imagine trying to walk everywhere in a city like this. Fortunately, the engineers of Ba Sing Se have a solution in mind. The city's rings are crisscrossed with many monorail lines, complete with stylish stations here and there. Before the steam power and electricity of Avatar Korra's time, these monorails were powered by earthbenders, who diligently kept these rails running smoothly and on time.
3 The Main regions
Pictured is a miniature model of Ba Sing Se in Republic City. This isn't the real Ba Sing Se, but it's a fine model of how the city is arranged. Not everyone in this massive city is equal, and the outer ring is home not only to those farms, but the lowest class of citizens, who live modest lives— and there are many of them. Moving on to the middle ring, and we get, well, the middle class. Life is comfortable, and the world's top college, Ba Sing Se University, is situated there. Finally, the upper ring is home to the elite and the palace itself.
2 The color scheme
Here's another analog to real-life China. In Ba Sing Se, we get the typical colors of the Earth Kingdom: green, gold, and brown. But these colors are not used at random in this mega-city. The roof tiles in Ba Sing Se loosely reflect those used in real-life China, such as brown roofs for commoners, green for bureaucrats and other workers, and gold for the palace, nobility, and other prominent figures.
1 It fell into anarchy overnight
Princess Azula wasn't the only invader to completely upset the status quo in Ba Sing Se. During the Earth Queen's oppressive regime, a great deal of resentment simmered in this massive city, and it needed only a spark to explode into chaos. Zaheer provided that very spark when he murdered the Earth Queen and used the radio to announce that Ba Sing Se now belonged to the people. Zaheer may not have been acting for completely benign reasons, though. He really just wanted to slaughter royalty, and he didn't care that the commoners were tearing the place up once he enabled them.