Gallifrey has always been a subject of hot debate and fascination within the Doctor Who fan community, and its place in canon is well documented thanks to the dreaded Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks. The planet has been destroyed, saved, and destroyed again with no clear indication of its status moving forward.

While Gallifrey represents little more than the Doctor’s homeworld to many fans, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Here are 10 fascinating facts about Gallifrey that most fans aren’t aware of – many of which tie directly into the events that have played out in the television series.

10 Rassilon Wasn’t The Original Ruler

Long before Rassilon would gain ultimate notoriety as one of Gallifrey’s most well-known Time Lords, the Pythia ran the show. This title represented a matriarchal system of female Time Lords gifted with psychic and precognitive powers who were in direct opposition to the factual and science-based belief systems that would later come to pass on Gallifrey.

The fall of the Pythia would trigger the formation of the Sisterhood of Karn, a superstitious group of followers imbued with their leftover powers who were responsible for triggering the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration into the War Doctor, so he could battle the Dalek menace during the Last Great Time War.

9 The Wasteland Beyond The Capitol

Gallifrey was not largely inhabited, as its citizens congregated largely within several major cities including the Capitol and Arcadia. Some who did not enjoy the bustle of these places opted for a quieter life on the barren outskirts.

Living in these regions was sometimes met with disdain by the arrogant city-dwellers. Beyond living quarters, Gallifrey’s landscape was harsh in most parts with only a few oceans, rivers, and forested areas to speak of. To some Time Lords, it was preferable.


8 The Government Is A Monarchy

Gallifrey’s government system never truly reached anything resembling a coherent balance. In the early days, cruelty abounded as the Time Lords waged war and tormented lesser species for their own amusement. In latter days they opted for a policy of non-interference in universal affairs – a promise they never truly kept.

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At the heart of power was one Time Lord who served as President, and enjoyed near-limitless power. Such a system would lead to massive corruption on several occasions, most notably during Borusa’s reign when he tried to seize ultimate immortality for himself.

7 It’s A Long Way From Earth

Who lore has been somewhat inconsistent when it comes to the exact placement of Gallifrey in relation to the rest of the universe, but it’s fair to say that Earth is quite a ways away from it. The 1996 Doctor Who movie claims that Gallifrey is 250 million light years away from Earth, while another source claims 30,000 light years. Given the liberties taken with the source material, one would be inclined to believe the latter.

Regardless, reaching Gallifrey without the aid of a vessel such as the Tardis (or a warp-capable ship) would be an exercise in utter futility. With its remote placement, Gallifrey was able to keep tabs on other worlds and meddle with them (or leave them be) thanks to their advanced time and space technology.

6 It Used Temporal Defense Mechanisms

Beings as powerful as the Time Lords were bound to make more than a few enemies over the eons, and that required some ingenious thinking when it came to planetary defense. The Doctor Who novel The Quantum Archangel claims that Gallifrey’s worldline (the path an object traces in 4-dimensional spacetime) was purposely warped across all eleven known dimensions in order to provide a type of cloaking mechanism.

Though few species could go toe-to-toe with the Time Lords and live to tell the tale, several of them (most notably the Daleks) proved more than a match, which probably necessitated this type of defense mechanism based on quantum physics.

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5 The City of Arcadia

The Tenth Doctor mentioned Arcadia in reference to what is now known as Gallifrey’s second big city. It was also a spot where the First Doctor and his granddaughter Susan were going to settle down. It would later serve as the spot where the War Doctor brought both the Time Lords and the Daleks to their respective extinctions.

Arcadia was once thought to be an incredibly secure city, thanks largely to its mammoth defenses consisting of sky trenches thought to be impenetrable. This complacency would ensure its downfall.

4 The Nine Gallifreys Project

The Time Lords once went up against a rival force known simply as “The Enemy,” so named because they had no actual physical embodiment or ideology. Little was known about their true nature, but they were enough of a threat to the Time Lords to force them to enact drastic protocols.

The Nine Gallifreys Project was a series of cloned worlds that would each create their own spin-off homeworlds, further adding to the confusion. That was precisely the point, as the entire plot was centered around misdirection in an attempt to thwart the Enemy’s plans. Some were even hidden away in pocket universes, while others were intended to be projectiles in the event of an all-out cataclysm.

3 The Cloister Bell Connection

At certain moments in Doctor Who, the Tardis emits a low-pitched, rumbling bell which indicates an imminent catastrophe is about to take place. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the Cloister Bell, and it has deep connections to Gallifrey itself.

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The Cloisters reference a spot beneath the Capitol of Gallifrey where the Matrix of Time Lord knowledge and wisdom is stored, along with the Cloister Bells themselves. They had their own defensive mechanisms to prevent intrusion and tampering, including Cloister Wraiths – the disembodied spirits of dead Time Lords.

2 Flora & Fauna

Much of Gallifrey was harsh, but it did have an eclectic amount of biodiversity. Many plant, grass, and tree species thrived on the planet, and were the subject of much awe due to their vibrant, beautiful colors and shimmering materials.

Animal species included flutterwings, yaddlefish, and the Killer Cats of Gin-Seng, to name but a few. In the early days of Gallifrey, large dinosaur creatures known as Gargantosaurs roamed the planet.

1 The First Use Of The Name

Many Whovians believe that the first official use of the title “Gallifrey” occurred during the Third Doctor’s era during the serial The Time Warrior. While it is true that it was the first televised use of the name, comic magazine TV Action beat it to the punch five months prior in issue #126.

The account states that a reader named Simon Still wrote in to ask where the Master came from, to which editors replied “Gallifrey.” This name was probably given to the editors by the production team for Doctor Who Bible purposes.

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