The Winter Palace is a structure in Orlais built on the ruins of ancient elven grounds in the city of Halamshiral. As early as 2:30 Glory, only ten years after the Exalted Marches led to the conquest of the Dales, the Winter Palace had become a seasonal retreat for the Imperial Court. This remained a tradition for Orlais' high nobility for years to come.
After the glorious reclamation of the Dales, the elven capital lay empty and in ruins for years, a haven for bandits and highwaymen and all manner of miscreants. The land lay unused until the Exalted Age, when Alphonse Valmont, the very Lion himself, declared that a palace should be built there in honor of the valiant actions of his brothers in besting the armies of false Emperor Xavier Drakon. Originally called Chateau Lion, it was designed as a grand retreat for the emperor's brothers and their families.
The city of Halamshiral grew around the palace. The first records of its existence appear in the Storm Age, when Emperor Cyril granted the title of marquis to Ser Reginald Montclair for "administration of Halamshiral."
An elven uprising destroyed Chateau Lion in the Blessed Age. When Emperor Judicael I rebuilt it, he named the new retreat the Winter Palace. It was designed more for the emperor and his immediate family than for any cadet branches of House Valmont, and became the heart of the Imperial Court in the darkest months of winter.
—An excerpt from Architectual History of Orlais, Volume I by Elodie Ferrneua
—From Codex entry: Halamshiral