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It's got everything you need, as long as you're not afraid of heights.

– The Dag

The Citadel was the stronghold of Immortan Joe. It appears in Mad Max: Fury Road and is also a central location in the prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. After Fury Road it is under the control of Imperator Furiosa and the Five Wives, after Joe and much of his military force, as well as his son Rictus, perish in pursuit of the Wives.


The Citadel is a cluster of three rock towers that sit above an aquifer of relatively fresh water. By channelling the water through the rock, the people of the Citadel have been able to irrigate a small area of the Wasteland.

It is the former stronghold of the paramilitary pseudo-religious cult led by the former pre-apocalypse war hero and decorated military veteran of the Australian Army, Colonel Joseph "Immortan Joe" Moore. Later on, a more civilised and sophisticated urban society was built after Immortan Joe's demise, becoming a town, and as it grew, a city, a home for refugees from across the desert and a bastion of hope and learning within the Wasteland.


The aquifer and its three towers were rebuilt and expanded with scrap found in the Wasteland. Each tower has its specific purpose:

  • Tower #1: Immortan Joe's headquarters. Inside this tower there are hydroponic gardens, the milking room, water dispersion control and on the upper side of it - the Biodome where the Five Wives are kept. Arguably the most luxurious part of the complex, extravagant beyond the dream of the average wasteland-dweller, with fresh water, clean air, fruit and vegetables, breast milk, a large amount of books containing knowledge of pre-war society, a collection of musical instruments and sheet music, and an assortment of other educational objects stockpiled inside the Biodome vault. This pedagogical repository of pre-war lore and artefacts was originally not overseen by anyone Miss Giddy, a History Woman was brought in to teach the Wives which resulted in their rebellion against the Immortan Joe. After The Citadel was taken over by Furiosa, at least one new History Man assisted in the educational process of all of the children in the Citadel.
  • Tower #2: Inhabited by 'the middle class' of the Citadel. Various people with valuable skills live there, including mechanics, medics, etc. Inside this tower there is a blood bank where captives of the Wasteland are kept as blood bags for War Boys. There is a garden up top, the tower functions as a buffer between Immortan Joe's headquarters and the lowest class of people living in the third tower.
  • Tower #3: The working class of The Citadel lives there. Picked up from The Wretched and promised a better life they ended up being used as slave labour, most notably as Treadmill Rats used to power the elevator platform. Their lives are short and disposable as they are not well taken care of, at least as much as the rest of the inhabitants of The Citadel.[1] However, there is a possibility to be promoted from being a treadmill rat as long as an individual shows valuable skills. Furiosa and Chumbucket being examples of that process.

Other Areas and Infrastructure[]

Inside the Citadel there are many artificial tunnels, probably created by the society of people who lived in there before the arrival of the Immortan Joe.

The lighting of the Citadel is mostly low-technology, not much different from the lighting of medieval castles: the tunnels are illuminated by fuel-burning lanterns and holes allowing sunlight. Immortan Joe's Biodome, located almost on the very top of the main mountain, is well-lit through the dome-shaped glass roof. In the room is also lit by kerosene lamps, as well as a table-mounted electric lamp. At least one other room, which housed the breast milking facility, has full-fledged electric lighting.

The movies do not extensively show the complexity of the entire Citadel, there are some elements, however they focus on:

  • The Platform: The entrance to The Citadel is only through a platform that is operated by several dozen Treadmill Rats walking on a huge gear contraption. Large rocks serve as additional weight helping to move it. The platform itself is guarded by heavily armed masked men who fend off The Wretched, decide what to trade and who to bring up. At the top there is a Brake Man who operates a large and robust brake mechanism. The platform is capable of lowering and lifting many tonnes of equipment and was built after the Immortan took over the rock formation.
  • Cranes: A large number of cranes with hooks are installed on top of The Citadel. They are generally used for transportation between the towers, moving War Boys and vehicles but can also be used as weapons and means to snatch vehicles from the ground.
  • The House of Holy Motors: In the tower located opposite the centre, there are many workshops where Black Thumbs and War Boys commit to work on vehicles. However, the main workshop is dubbed 'The House of Holy Motors' where the biggest and most ambitious projects are born such as War Rigs. The work on vehicles is supervised by the High Master Black Thumb, however the Citadel has many talented engineers and mechanics such as Chumbucket or Furiosa who build their own contraptions. The House of Holy Motors also serves as a depository of spare parts, damaged vehicles and found objects. All of which serve as building blocks for new vehicles and all things mechanical.
  • Water supply: In the centre tower there are multiple fuel powered pumps that provide the Citadel with clean water, including the Big Four Aquifer Siphons. The water is distributed through a pipe complex, three streams go towards the three towers of the Citadel. Many pipes are laid on the walls of tunnels and connected into a single system. In the room directly in front of the entrance to the Biodome there is a hydroponics garden with its own irrigation system. The pipes themselves are suspended from the ceiling on chains and form long rows above each other. Irrigation seems to be drip-based and automatic, spraying water directly above the plants. Green plants grow not only indoors, but also on the slopes and on top of the towers.
  • Milking Room: In this room, milk is pumped from the breasts of former Wives. The 'Milkers' are well nourished and provided with dolls to increase milk supply. All women sit on special chairs placed by the walls. Unlike other places, it is lit with lightbulbs which are powered by one of the Wretched on a bicycle.
  • Blood Bank: The Citadel provides a variety of crude medical procedures, one of them being blood transfusion. The blood comes from captured individuals kept in large bird-like cages suspended from the ceiling. In the event that a half-life warrior loses a large amount of blood in battle or simply requires a transfusion due to an illness, the cage is opened and the donor hangs upside down for easier blood delivery. Their medical information is tattooed upside down on their backs for easier read. The donors are dubbed 'Blood Bags' but are also sometimes used as literal punching bags by some of the War Pups.
  • The Lookout: A dedicated place for spotting and monitoring the Wasteland. It is equipped with a number of telescopes.



Originally the rock formation seems to have been a water pumping station sitting on top of an aquifer. It was inhabited by a group of heavily armed men protecting the water resources. Called ''roughnecks'', their origins are unknown, but the fact that most wear work safety helmets and they seem to be an all-male population suggests they may be the original workers in that facility. They were belligerent, isolationist and heavily armed. They already have bridges connecting the three rock formations and the equipment to extract underground water and, probably, to grow food. Reportedly they fended off several attackers, and weren't interested in any trade. After Colonel Joe Moore arrived, intending to take the Citadel, he offered them women for trade, but the roughnecks declined the offer and instead attacked Joe's gang. The following conflict, the Battle of the Citadel, saw the roughnecks' complete annihilation and Moore's takeover of the towers. The facility was rebuilt into The Citadel.[2]

Immortan Joe's Society[]

Only the privileged live in the Citadel, among whom are the half-life warriors, or War Boys - the common ground troops of the Immortal Joe, obsessed with heroic death in battle. Inside, they live an ordinary life, mostly revolving around building, repairing and decorating their vehicles. They also decorate their own bodies by scarification. The number of War Boys was estimated at 972 half-lives by the People Eater at the time of Dementus' arrival at the Citadel, however that number dwindled over time due to battles and diseases. To remedy this issue, the Immortan ordered capturing people in the wasteland to harvest their fluids and organs. The healthy captives are considered 'full lives' and are kept in a 'Blood Bank' where ill War Boys can get blood transfusions from them. Some healthy captives might be incorporated into Immortan Joe's harem, such as Toast the Knowing. Those women dubbed "The Wives" live inside an isolated space called the Biodome. The Wives are repeatedly raped and violated in order to give the Immortan a healthy heir. After three failed attempts a Wife is thrown out of the Citadel, however some former Wives become 'Milkers', providing breast milk for the Immortan instead.

Ordinary people, dubbed 'The Wretched' lived at the feet of the towers and were not allowed into the Citadel. Desperate and plagued with disease they used any means to get in, this including trading either items or themselves, or just plainly trying to hang onto the platform to be elevated up into the Citadel. In most cases those plans failed, however some have made it up by either true luck or resilience such as young Nux. Otherwise, The Wretched survive by any means necessary, including corpse maggot farming and even cannibalism, while eagerly awaiting for the Immortan to give them water from up top. From time to time, the head of the Citadel, with the help of levers, demonstratively supplied water pouring out of giant pipes directly to the foot of the towers. At such moments, all the poor people approached the flow of water and drew water with all possible containers. The Immortan speaks to the Wretched like a cult leader but it doesn't seem to have any effect on them, contrary to the War Boys that also listen on. The moment Immortan Joe's dead body was revealed, The Wretched ripped it apart and the illusion of his immortality and his cult vanished immediately.

The Citadel traded its goods with both Gas Town and the Bullet Farm. All were in control of the Immortan but operated by relatively autonomous guardians appointed by the Immortan himself: the "Guardian of Gas Town" and the "Bullet Farmer" respectively. The insufficient protection of those two fortresses lead to them being taken over by Dementus. After his defeat, the Immortan reorganised his power structure and appointed the People Eater as the guardian of Gas Town while bolstering their security by creating armies for both: Gas Town Boys and Bullet Boys.

Before his overthrow, Joe maintained his control through a loyal corps of War Boys, whom were picked from The Wretched as War Pups and indoctrinated from childhood to believe that Immortan Joe is a god and following his orders would grant them eternal afterlife. The War Boys defended the Citadel, escorted trade caravans, and scavenged the countryside for useful scrap and slaves. War Boys were indoctrinated into the Cult of V8 and they became mechanics first, Repair Boys, a position in which they may remain or they may volunteer or be drafted and undergo training to become full-fledged War Boys. After surviving long enough they may have been granted their own vehicle and eventually became Imperators (commanders).

Post-Immortan Joe Town[]

Later on, the Citadel was claimed by Furiosa and The Five Wives and was being operated with the help of Corpus Collosus. With their aid, a more egalitarian society is built around a small town of brick and mortar and rock at the base of the triumvirate of rock towers comprising the main Citadel, constructed by the former Wretched of Joe's Empire. Over time, the small town built by the former Wretched developed into a relatively large city and its population seems to be thriving. Further fuelling hopes for the future, The History Men, founded by their precursor, Miss Giddy, presumably a former teacher and scholar from before the apocalypse and collapse of the old world, operate from The Citadel, where they began teaching children about history and other preserved and reclaimed academic knowledge, Through the History Men and their allies, the Citadel, following Immortan Joe's fall, acts as a bastion of hope and learning within the Wasteland. It is possible that by issuing out their knowledge, they helped The Wretched to build the Town at the foot of The Citadel. the History Men were supported by relatively large pre-existing repository of pre-war lore and artefacts that Joe had stockpiled in the hermetically sealed bio-dome to help realise his increasingly corrupt vision of rebuilding pre-war civilisation in his own image and restoring order to the Wasteland. To what extent the History Men and their allies did rebuild modern civilisation after Joe's demise, and how successful the History Men were, is unknown.

Behind the Scenes[]

Design Inspirations[]

George Miller and Collin Gibson independently started to collect materials for what would eventually become the first concept of The Citadel. Upon Gibson's first visit to Africa he looked at a lot of places that were carved into mountains, caves used for shelter and for storing food during primitive and violent times of raping and pillaging. This resonated with the primitive nature of the Wasteland.

Another aspect was the feudal construction of society which was quite literally depicted in the form vertical hierarchy. The Wretched lived at the very feet of The Citadel, whereas Immortan Joe lived at the very top. In between lived his armies, Milk Mothers, mechanics, and so on.

The essential idea of The Citadel was based on height and Gibson's idea of the Citadel was amplified by Miller until it became a monumental structure made of three interconnected towers.[3]

Visual Effects[]

The final look of The Citadel was achieved through a combination of principal photography in Namibia, sound stage filming in Sydney and visual effects work from Iloura. It was informed by actual rock cliffs photographed in Australia and re-worked using photogrammetry.

Visual effects supervisor - Andrew Jackson considered reference locations in Jordan, including the famous Wadi Rum mountains, but ultimately found suitable cliffs in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

“I took a helicopter and we flew backwards and forwards with a high res stills camera. It has real lighting but because it was shot in overcast conditions you can add more key light. We had the chopper standing by for 10 days waiting for the right conditions. We didn’t have one cloudy day for a week and a half, but the day we went was just perfect.”

- Andrew Jackson

The use of photogrammetry techniques for the Citadel location, and for others in the film, was actually inspired by Jackson’s initial use of an on-set aerial photography drone from Sensefly that he had intended to employ just for ground reference photos. “It was a little one meter wingspan plane with a compact camera,” explains Jackson. “It completely flew itself. You just map out the area on the ground, you throw it into the air and it flies up and flies in a grid taking photos every two meters and then comes back and lands where it was launched. The software they give you with the plane was Photoscan.”

At one point Joe addresses his citizens from a rock-platform balcony, a location where he also opens the water pipes using ship pump actuators. “The balcony went through a huge number of iterations,” says Tom Wood, visual effects supervisor. “There was a practical set piece that was shot in one of the stages at Fox Studios in Sydney, which was completely replaced. The only thing that’s real are the four guys and the pump actuators. For below him they had shot about 150 extras and we extended those to 30,000 with crowd sims. Those rocks didn’t exist so we were controlling light across the crowd, which was really tricky.”

The water flow from the pipes made use of a Houdini simulation for wide shots, with some practical water on set. “They had practical rain machines on set in front of their very small piece of rock face,” describes Wood. “That sprayed out more than a mist - it was a rain. There was also some pouring water where it splashes on some rocks. Everything above that was VFX.”[4]


  • According to Fury Road co-writer Brendan McCarthy, the theme of turning humans into a commodity was to be reflected in the design of the gardens on top of The Citadel. Originally the plants would be growing from dead bodies split open, acting as grow bags. Different types of plants ranging from flowers to wheat would have been growing from carcasses. Dead bodies would have been recycled and used as fertiliser, Max's cut off hair was going to be recycled as well.[5]