In the world of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher stories, the eponymous monster hunters are mutants who make a hardscrabble living by vanquishing monsters. It’s a rough line of work, doesn’t pay well, and Witchers, in general, are met with distrust at best and open hostility at worst given their reputation and abilities. But everyone needs a day off, and when Witchers want to settle in for the colder months, they head to Kaer Morhen, a wintry, all-but-inaccessible keep in the mountains. But what is Kaer Morhen? Why do the Witchers go there? How do they get there? And why do its dusty halls sit all but empty most of the time? Let’s find out.
What is Kaer Morhen?
Kaer Morhen is an isolated keep located in the mountains of the kingdom of Kaedwen, on the Gwenllech, or White River. It can only be reached by The Witchers Trail, which has been dubbed “The Killer” by the Witchers themselves, making it very isolated. It is not, though, entirely safe, and never really has been — in fact, its most defining incident is a siege that occurred there, with fanatics backed by mages laying waste to the place and almost all of the Witchers inside. Since then, only Vesemir has remained, raising the young orphans — including Geralt — who survived the attack, and hosting them in the winter when they return from their work.
A lot of this was dealt with in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, an animated prequel focusing on Vesemir and the circumstances around this siege. The keep was mentioned in the first season of The Witcher, and is visited by Geralt and Ciri in the second season episode “Kaer Morhen”. It is designed to very closely resemble its depiction in the games, both inside and outside, where Ciri begins to train as a Witcher by determinedly tackling a dangerous obstacle course.
In a world that aggressively ostracises anyone perceived to be different, Kaer Morhen is a sanctuary with a rich history and a safe haven for a persecuted underclass. While it is no longer a place where Witchers undergo mutations and train — the mutagens that allowed the creation of new Witchers were lost in the massacre — it’s still a refuge for Geralt and others like Eskel, Lambert, and Coen.
You can find out what Kaer Morhen is by streaming The Witcher exclusively on Netflix.