Cliffside settlements are towns, cities, or other habitats where buildings and other structures have been built into the face of a cliff or escarpment. Buildings may project outward into the air, may be carved into the rock, or may be a combination of both. Building at these locations offered inhabitants increased protection from threats, as these areas are easier to defend. Fictional cliffside settlements may be home to monks, ancient civilizations, and avian species.
Designing Fictional Cliffside Settlements
These settlements may be on a single cliff or exist on both sides of a canyon or chasm. They may contain elaborate bridge systems and tunnels into the rock. Cliffside settlements may also include cliffside pathways, scaffolding, and elaborate rooftop areas that have been transformed into additional livable or walkable space. If the region has access to water, there may be waterfalls that drop between the structures. The inhabitants of cliffside settlements may cultivate farm terraces. If the technology exists, elevators and moving platforms may be present to shuttle people and items between levels.
Cliffside settlements may be arranged in a socio-economic fashion, with the rich and powerful inhabiting the upper regions, and the poor living in the lowest sections. If you are designing a cliffside settlement with palaces, important temples, and slums, consider where in the vertical space they are located of if they exist deeper within caverns of the cliffside.