- "I saw... I saw a city in the clouds."
- ―Luke Skywalker
Cloud City was a tibanna gas mining colony floating in the clouds of the planet Bespin, located in the Anoat sector of the Outer Rim Territories. Under the auspices of Baron Administrator Lando Calrissian, the city attempted to avoid unwanted Imperial attention. Eventually, Imperial forces occupied the station and installed a garrison. However, after the Emperor's apparent death, the Imperial Garrison was abandoned during the Iron Blockade, and the planet was soon liberated.
Cloud City was a completely man-made tibanna gas mining colony staff hovering over the gas giant Bespin, occupied by millions of workers, tourists and support staff. Located in Bespin's Life Zone, the station had no need for airlocks or life support systems, with the atmosphere comprised mostly of oxygen and acceptable levels of gravity and temperature. The station was situated 59,000 kilometers above Bespin's core, while its disk was approximately 16.2 kilometers in diameter. 36,000 repulsorlift engines and tractor beam generators kept the giant city floating above the planet. It contained 392 levels, along with platforms and rooms for residents and visitors. The top 50 levels of the city were used as a luxury resort, renowned for its famous casinos such as Yarith Bespin and Pair O'Dice, while the lower levels housed workers and catered for the mining and processing of tibanna gas. The city had a controlled environment that meant residents did not have to worry about the weather.
- "Fellas, why so aggressive? This is cloud city—Around here, a smile beats a blaster every single time."
- ―Lando Calrissian to a squad of stormtroopers
Popular tourist activities included gambling, hiring a cloud car for sightseeing the city and occasionally touring the local mining operations. The high-end accommodations were exclusive, with luxury resorts often charging as much as 5,000 Imperial credits a night. The Ivax Syndicate also maintained gaming houses on the station. In the months following the Battle of Endor, Cloud City had become the destination to procure rare implants such as brand new oculars and custom-made hands, or entire organ systems for a multitude of alien species. However, following the Empire's occupation of the Anoat sector and subsequently, Cloud City, the distribution of implants was temporarily put on hold.
Cloud City was notable enough to warrant the existence of postcards that included such phrases as "Wish You Were Here" in Aurebesh. One such card found its way to Rey while scavenging on the planet Jakku.
Tibanna gas mining
- "Well, the city is really one big tibanna gas processor. It takes in the raw atmosphere, we filter out the impurities and boom, nice, fresh tibanna."
- ―A Bespin Wing Guard to Captain Tanch
Generators on the underside of the city emitted tractor beams that converged below the gas mine's reactor bulb, creating a funnel of energy that mined tibanna gas from Bespin's lower atmosphere, at depths of more than 23,000 kilometers. The gas was forced up into an opening at the bottom of the bulb, where it traveled up the reactor stalk and finally into one of several smaller reactor shafts, where it was then filtered through a processing vane. Each processing vane maintained a carbon-freeze chamber, where tibanna gas was mixed with carbonite for flash-freeze preservation. One of the chambers was used on the smuggler Han Solo after he was captured by Imperial forces who had recently arrived at the station. Work areas in these lower levels were primarily operated by the sentient Ugnaughts, who performed the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work while bathed in red light, which was the preferred color for the species and also increased their productivity. Many of these tunnels could only be navigated by the Ugnaughts.
Although the atmosphere had been mapped for many generations, gas prospectors still searched the skies for pockets of tibanna gas and other valuable gases before major contractors find them. However, this was a risky business for cloud storms were highly unpredictable and deadly.
The need for security was great on Cloud City due to the mining and tourism business. Strict visa procedures were in place and any unidentified vessels were located and intercepted long before they reach the docks. A shield generator protected the city from near-space bombardment. Vigilance was overseen by the Wing Guard, who patrolled the skies around the city.
Cloud City was run by the Baron Administrator. At some point during the Age of the Empire, Lando Calrissian was given the position. However the day-to-day affairs of the facility were mostly overseen by the cybernetically enhanced human Lobot. Following the departure of Calrissian, a council of business representatives ran the city.
Cloud City was built by the eccentric explorer Lord Ecclessis Figg of Corellia, who offered the freedom of the city to three Ugnaught tribes if they agreed to build the city. With the Ugnaughts having been sold into slavery long ago, the tribes agreed, creating the first iteration of Cloud City. Cloud city was constructed using minerals from the Bespin System's innermost planet Miser.
Calrissian comes to power
Early on in his rule Calrissian had the Cantonarive crown coin stolen from him. Calrissian was going to give the coin to a grand slicer who would, in exchange keep the Cloud City off the Galactic Empire's radar and in turn protect his people. Calrissian tracked down the individuals who stole the coin and convinced them to return before the individuals would sell the coin to the gangster Wonn Ionstrike.
Galactic Civil War
- "Attention. This is Lando Calrissian. The Empire has taken control of the city; I advise everyone to leave before more Imperial troops arrive."
- ―Lando Calrissian alerts the residents of Cloud City
Shortly after the Battle of Hoth, the fleeing members of the Rebel Alliance (namely Leia Organa, Han Solo and Chewbacca along with their protocol droid C-3PO) landed at Cloud City needing to repair their starship, the Millennium Falcon. Initially greeted by Lando Calrissian, the trio ultimately fell victim to Darth Vader's plot to capture Luke Skywalker, using his friends as bait. The Empire coerced Calrissian to surrender the trio to Darth Vader and the Empire, who had arrived shortly before they did. Solo was frozen in carbonite to both reward the bounty hunter Boba Fett for tracking the Rebel trio to Bespin and to test the safety of the facility.
Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker, sensing the danger his friends were in, arrived at Cloud City in order to mount a rescue only to be engaged in a duel with Vader. By the duel's conclusion, Luke would learn that Darth Vader was his father and would jump down one of the city's reactor shafts in order to avoid joining the dark side of the Force. Meanwhile, Lando Calrissian, upset by the Empire's refusal to abide by the terms of their arrangement—which stipulated that Cloud City was to remain autonomous—warned citizens over an intercom that Imperial forces had invaded the city while his local security forces overwhelmed Imperial forces, allowing Leia Organa, Chewbacca, the two droids and himself to escape the city, picking up an injured Luke Skywalker dangling on a weather scanner vane along the way. Captured and frozen in carbonite, Han Solo was transported in the cargo hold on Boba Fett's starship, the Slave I.
After the capture of the rebels, the Empire took over Cloud City, establishing a skeleton garrison to ensure that the citizens would pay proper taxes and fines to the regime. After the Empire suffered a major defeat at Endor, the Cloud City garrison was pulled to support more strategic targets, and there were celebrations in the streets. In the absence of a baron administrator, a council of business representatives came to run the city.
Age of the New Republic
Before word of the Emperor's death could reach the city, Imperial Governor Ubrik Adelhard established the Iron Blockade over the entirety of the Anoat sector, shutting down travel and communications in and out of Cloud City. The city also served as the location of Governor Adelhard's personal headquarters located within the prime tower. Ultimately, a militia led by Lobot succeeded in relaying messages to the New Republic, and with the aid of the Uprising, successfully liberated the city from Imperial control.
In the years leading up to the Battle of Jakku, Lando Calrissian and Lobot led a joint New Republic and Bespin Wing Guard mopping-up operation against Imperial troops who had taken up position in the casino level's Bolo Tanga room. Calrissian managed to convince a dozen of the Imperials to surrender. However, one of them refused to stand down. The Baron Administrator was forced to shoot him dead with his Rossmoyne Vitiator. Calrissian and Lobot then chatted about sending a nuptial gift to Princess Leia Organa's then-newborn son. They settled on sending a Vantillian catamaran that was being stored in the western skipdock.
After the First Order
Behind the scenes
In George Lucas' rough draft of the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope written in 1974, a city on Alderaan, which was set as a giant gas planet and the capital of the New Galactic Empire at that time, resembled what eventually took the shape of the Cloud City at Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. When concept artist Ralph McQuarrie began conceptual work for the film's second draft, he designed the Imperial capital on Alderaan and the art he provided was the inspiration for the look of Cloud City, differing only in minor respects from the city as seen in Episode V.
- Star Wars Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "The Lost Treasure of Cloud City"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "Race on Tatooine"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "Duel of Destiny"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "A New Home"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "Home One"
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Flight of the Falcon" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Gambit on Geonosis" (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Vision to Rey)
- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
- Star Wars Blips – "Fan Droids" (Appears in hologram)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga