For centuries the oasis at ShirKahr was a strategic water source, fought over by various clans, warlords, and factions. At one time, it was the only inland spot on the Na'nam continent where trees grew, until all but the smallest copses were destroyed by the constant fighting. Historians who have studied the development of ShirKahr believe the city was sacked and rebuilt dozens of times during its history. Each invader made his own mark upon the city, changing some areas and making sure that anything related to the previous ruler was leveled.
But of all the conquerors of (and warlords from) ShirKahr, only under the teachings of Surak has the city truly prospered. Once the teachings of Surak took hold, and Vulcans devoted their energies to science and art, ShirKahr expanded from a strategic target to become one of the most powerful cities on Vulcan, and the planet's legislative capital.
Today ShirKahr is where the greatest artists and thinkers on Vulcan work and live, including many who have come from different parts of Vulcan and the Federation to see the new things that have been created. Of all of Vulcan's cities, ShirKahr receives the most offworld and Vulcan tourists. While many come to see the various works of art, or debate in the great lecture halls of the Science Academy, others also come to see the past, to remind themselves or show their children what life was like before Surak and the Awakening. ShirKahr's variegated past and its explosive growth after the Awakening has left the city divided into many quarters and neighborhoods, some still separated by walls built millennia ago, others with modern gravrails running through them.
As might be expected, this is where some of the best artists on Vulcan can be found. Like the Old Quarter, it is a place where one should look carefully at what he wishes to obtain to separate the valuable crafts from cheap replicated Ferengi knockoffs. Among the actual artists, several renowned masters still make their home in the quarter. S'wek is a master of sand sculpture. Examples of his work can been seen around the government offices, and in some of the public gardens. He only works on assignment, and currently is involved in several projects; he does have several small pieces in his workshop that he's willing to sell. He's considered a very fair Vulcan to deal with.
Another artist, T'rel, specializes in watercolors; she has studied on several worlds, including Earth. T'rel paints when she considers her talents to suit the topic, and currently has nothing in stock she would like to sell. She has allowed public exhibitions of the paintings she has kept in her studio, and of works in progress.
This is where most of the oldest architecture in ShirKahr can be found. Vulcans have gone to great lengths to keep the area as close to its ancient design as possible. The Suta temple gets special care; although few Vulcans worship there any more, it holds a special place in the history of ShirKahr. It was one of the first places that allowed Surak and his followers to teach their beliefs publicly, as they closely matched those of the temple priests. Priests of Tel-alep, they believed that by learning the truth of any situation one could accept it calmly.
For many years people have come to learn about Vulcan's history here, but even on a traditional planet such as Vulcan the sheer number of tourists and visitors has left the area an odd hodge-podge of history and modernity. Subspace links rest on ancient minarets, and merchants weigh out kevas trinkets on antique balances while recording transactions on top quality PADDs. Good quality hotels and inns can still be found in the quarter, but you'll have to deal with tourist junkets and guided tours.
Vulcan residents tend to avoid the quarter when there are a lot of tourists around, as they constantly are asked to have their holo taken, which in general Vulcans consider rude. Still, the quality of one hotel in the quarter, the Tav'Sal'Nava or "Finest House", cannot be denied, as it's nearly the only hotel on the planet that any Ferengi trade delegate or envoy will tolerate. The most prestigious hotel in all of ShirKahr, its facilities are considered some of Vulcan's finest. All types of offworld cuisine are served, including meat, but Vulcans will have nothing to do with its preparation or storage. The hotel boasts a truly interspecies staff, with representatives of (and specialized rooms for) nearly every major species in the Federation, and a few beyond.
- See also: The Oasis
This area is where non-Vulcans who like traditional Vulcan food and culture go when they have grown tired of the Old Quarter. There are several small hotels, inns, and restaurants that still cater to the native Vulcan population, but more offworld customers have been coming into the area. Some consider the quality of the food and lodging not only less elevated but better than that in the Old Quarter.
All over Vulcan, gardens and small parks play an important part in helping individuals keep their emotional control by offering balanced places for introspection and peaceful thought. At first the expenditure of money and valuable water on such things was seen as an illogical waste of resources, but after much debate (in which the proponents pointed out that Surak valued peace almost as much as logic), the city fathers agreed to plant public gardens as an experiment.
Since then, public gardens and parks have become an integral part of every Vulcan city. No new construction is planned that doesn't include at least one park or at least a small contemplative area. Today small parks can be found throughout ShirKahr, each with its own unique fountain or sculpture. Private houses often have their own fardens as part of their construction.
The public gardens of ShirKahr are there for those who don't have a garden of their own, or need to have a quiet place to meditate while away from home. The gardens, located between the government council chambers, the Academy and the Old Quarter, are built to represent the different terrain types found on Vulcan.
Vulcan Council Chambers
Just west of the university are the main buildings of Vulcan's planetary government. Most of these buildings are closed to the general public, unless you have specific business. One area that is open to the public is the Hall of Voices; the hall is a huge enclosed amphitheatre several meters underground. Here, in traditional Vulcan fashion, open debates are held on various topics. In these types of debates each side presents its case to members of the audience, who in turn may ask questions as each speaker explains his position.
Near the government buildings are various embassies of species that have established diplomatic relations with Vulcan. Earth, as a member of the Federation, has established an embassy on Vulcan. The current Federation ambassador to Vulcan is retired Admiral Winston Neraneau, a veteran Human diplomat known as somewhat of a ladies' man. Since he is single (and Human) most Vulcans remain unoffended by his behavior. His astonishing knowledge of Vulcan philosophy (and almost native level of fluency in Ancient, Classic, and Modern Vulcan languages) also impresses the more traditional elements. Another person that can be found in the government area is Salkath, a former aide of Sarek's. Having spent a good deal of time with other species, he is willing to help where he can if people are having difficulty getting information.
Vulcan Science Academy
see individual entry: Vulcan Science Academy
Vulcan Space Central
see individual entry: Vulcan Space Central
Computer Access Terminals
Also called CAT's, these are small access terminals that can be found throughout ShirKahr. They connect directly to the Central Clearing computers. From these terminals, one can get different kinds of general information about things like the address of a particular place, transportation schedules, or lecture schedules at the VSA. They can also be used to make restaurant reservations, or buy tickets for a performance. If one is looking for another individual, the terminals will give a simple one-page readout that will include education, occupation, and a commcode. No personal information or addresses will be given.
The majority of this information has been taken from The Way of Kolinahr Sourcebook, with modifications from other sources.