The city looks to be built into an enormous cavern, and the rain pours down from cracks in the stone above. There must be a lot of water up there somewhere.
The City of Tears is the capital city of Hallownest which is located in the centre of the kingdom. It is covered in perpetual rainfall that originates from the ceiling above.
The City of Tears is built in an enormous cavern below the Blue Lake. It has numerous large towers with expansive windows which offer views of the city. Going up and down these towers is possible via small lifts.
The city has a notable divide between the rich and poor part. The eastern side of the city is where Hallownest's high society lived. The interiors in this part of the City of Tears are more posh and luxurious and contain a red and purple colour pattern, while the west part's interiors appear to be more common and plain with more blue colour tones.
In the very centre of the city is Fountain Square, where the memorial fountain to the Hollow Knight is located. Hornet can be encountered here as well as Relic Seeker Lemm, the latter only after one of the Dreamers has been defeated.
The Nailsmith's forge and Lemm's shop are located in the western side. This side also contains the City Storerooms Stag Station and the sub-area Soul Sanctum, where the Soul Master boss can be fought. Both Quirrel and Zote can be found in this part of the city under certain conditions.
The eastern side of the city has most of the sub-areas including the Watcher's Spire, and the Tower of Love. The bosses Watcher Knights and the Collector can be fought in these sub-areas, respectively. In one of the towers is the Pleasure House which has the only Hot Spring of the city. Lastly the King's Station Stag Station can be found in the very eastern part of the city.
In the past, the City of Tears was known as "the city at this kingdom's heart", "Hallownest's heart", and "Hallownest's capital city". One way of entering it was via the Pilgrim's Way, a road starting in the Forgotten Crossroads and going through Greenpath, Fog Canyon, and the Fungal Wastes, ending at the great gate in the western part of the city. Travellers were promised that if they reached the capital, all their wishes would be granted and they could share in the city's glory. Goods from all across Hallownest were transported to the capital, though not many were sent back.
The members of Hallownest's high society were the ones who exerted the most influence. Lurien the Watcher appears to have been one of the most influential figures of the city, watching over it with his telescope in the Watcher's Spire.
When the Infection spread across Hallownest, the capital's gates were sealed to stop anyone from entering or leaving the city in an attempt to prevent the Infection from reaching the city. However, this proved to be in vain as the entire city became Infected. Water now leaks from the Blue Lake through the cavern's ceiling, causing the rain and giving the capital its current name.
How to access
The City of Tears can be first accessed from several other areas of Hallownest. The west main gate can be opened from the Fungal Wastes by using the City Crest on the statue of the Great Knight Hegemol. The east part of the city can be accessed from the Royal Waterways after using the Tram Pass to get to Ancient Basin.
The Tram can also be used to reach Kingdom's Edge, which has an access point to King's Station on its west side. Lastly, the city can be reached by going to the Resting Grounds and taking the lift there which leads to the east part of the City of Tears.
Sub-area: Soul Sanctum
Soul Sanctum was a research institution lead by the Soul Master where scholars worked on expanding the mind and attaining a pure focus. When the Infection spread, they sought to combat it by harnessing the power of Soul, the lifeforce which animates bugs' bodies. They obtained this Soul by gathering Soul Totems and by killing countless bugs, whose bodies were left at the bottom of the Sanctum. Unfortunately, their efforts were for nothing as all scholars ended up becoming Infected.
The Soul Sanctum contains powerful enemies such as Soul Twisters which teleport around and cast spells. It is also littered with Follies and Mistakes, scholars whose bodies were twisted by their experiments with Soul. There are two Soul Warriors in the Sanctum, one of which is near the Shade Soul upgrade to Vengeful Spirit.
The Soul Master is a boss in the area who guards the Desolate Dive Spell which is required to access many areas. The Spell Twister Charm can also be found in the Sanctum in the northeastern part near Soul Master's arena.
Sub-area: Pleasure House
The Pleasure House is an area in the City of Tears that can be opened with a Simple Key. It contains the City's only Hot Spring and used to be the location of the theatre where Songstress Marissa performed for audiences. Her spirit can still be found on the stage.
When taking the lift, there are 5 floors that it does not stop at. Near the Hot Spring, there is a Bench, where Millibelle is found later after she runs away with the deposited Geo. There is a breakable wall beside the resting Bench that allows access from the lift to the Resting Grounds.
Sub-area: Watcher's Spire
Home of Lurien the Watcher, one of the Dreamers sealing the Black Egg and the Hollow Knight inside. At his side, his butler can be found. Lurien must be killed to complete the game, but reaching him is no simple task as the way is barred by his elite guards, the Watcher Knights.
Sub-area: Tower of Love
The abode of the Collector, a being of Void who loves capturing creatures in glass jars. Accessible from Kingdom's Edge using the Love Key (acquired from a corpse in the Queen's Gardens). After flipping a switch, it can be exited into King's Station. Defeating the Collector enables 3 Grubs to be rescued and the Collector's Map to be acquired, which marks the location of un-rescued Grubs on the map.
Sub-area: King's Station
The City Storerooms are where all goods were transported into the city. They consist of two superimposed caverns bordering the Fungal Wastes, above the city's entrance from the Pilgrim's Way. Cargo lifts transported goods from the Stag Station above to the storerooms below. This area also connects to the building below the Soul Sanctum and the lift to the Forgotten Crossroads.
Pleasure House Kitchen
This room is located in the Pleasure House, which requires a Simple Key to unlock and access. It is found on the 5th floor.
This grim nook is a desolate set of rooms littered with corpses of Hallownest’s Aristocracy. A bug named Poggy Thorax can be found in these rooms, they comment on the Knight's small stature calling them “skinny”. The room in which Poggy is found also features a small pile of bugs resembling Poggy and dozens of small flies hovering over the rotten flesh strung from the ceiling of the room.
A single Rancid Egg can also be found in the living room surrounded by the husks of high-class denizens of Hallownest.
- The richer side of the City was planned to be a proper sub-area named the "Royal Quarter".
- A sealed door above the entrance through the Pilgrim's Way appears to connect the City Storerooms Lift to the Fungal Wastes. This can never be opened or interacted with during the game and remains permanently shut.
- A pre-release screenshot depicts Fountain Square without the memorial to the Hollow Knight. Instead, a multi-level fountain can be found in its place.
- Very early in development, the City of Tears was known as "Ruins" and "Ruined City". This can still be seen in the game files for the City of Tears, which usually contain "ruins" in their name.