Avatar Wiki
Avatar Wiki
This article has been featured on the main page. Click here for more featured articles. This article is an A-class article. It is written to a very high standard. Air Nomads emblem.png
This article is about the location. For other similar uses, see Northern Air Temple (disambiguation).
"Hey, we're almost at the Northern Air Temple! This is where they had the championships for sky bison polo!"
Aang introducing the Northern Air Temple to Sokka and Katara.[1]

The Northern Air Temple was one of the four original temples that belonged to the Air Nomads. Located in the mountains along the northern coast of the Earth Kingdom continent,[2] this temple was one of the two temples that traditionally housed male airbenders, the other being the Southern Air Temple.[2][3] Its original population, however, was wiped out at the beginning of the Hundred Year War, during the Air Nomad Genocide. The temple was later inhabited by a group of Earth Kingdom refugees led by the mechanist, who settled there after their own village was destroyed by a flood. The Northern Air Temple was the site where many important technological advancements in the world took place.[1]

The temple was later restored to its former glory by Avatar Aang and the Air Acolytes after the Hundred Year War[4] and, after airbending resurfaced in nonbending citizens following the Harmonic Convergence in 171 AG, it became the training grounds for those new at the art.[5] However, when the Red Lotus arrived, the building was eventually destroyed by Ghazan, who used his lavabending to destroy the temple's foundations, which eventually led to the building's collapse.[6]


The Northern Air Temple was built thousands of years before the Hundred Year War by Air Nomad monks, who used the structure mainly as a training ground for young airbenders. The temple was noted for its design, which harmoniously integrated its natural surroundings into the structure; the large hallways would harness the wind and allow air to flow naturally through the building.[2]

The temple was the residence of a legendary guru and poet, Laghima, around 3,829 BG, during which time it is believed he discovered the secret to weightlessness and lived the last forty years of his life untethered to the ground.[7]

During the era of Kyoshi, the Air Nomads valued detachment from the world so much that they led a near-total policy of isolationism and staying out of the worldly affairs of the other nations. This was keenly felt at the Northern Air Temple, where the influential Monk Namthöse of the Council of Elders was an avid proponent of this policy, and actively discouraged young airbenders from absorbing too much outside news in fear of them becoming distracted from their paths. Namthöse went so far as to attempt to instate a rule allowing only Air Nomads to visit the Northern Air Temple. Foreigners who had business with the temple found it hard to get in touch with anyone other than those who the monk deemed appropriate.[8]

Located on the Earth Kingdom continent, the Northern Air Temple perhaps most keenly felt the impact of daofei and the suffering they had caused in nearby settlements, but did not help unless directly asked for aid, having been burned one too many times from interfering in others' lives.[8] Although they were accused by many of not caring about the outside world, the Air Nomads did care about it so deeply that they felt they had to focus on preserving spiritual knowledge for generations to come during this age, especially in light of the loss of their spiritual sites around the world in lieu of daofei attacks and the resurgance of dark spirits in the era of Kuruk and spirits wanting to pull their homes back into their own realm.[9]

During the era of Roku, the temples' philosophy had completely changed, and they now forged close ties with the leaders of the other nations in hopes of reaching more people and helping as many as the Air Nomads could. All temples, including the North, supported the building of the Fire & Air Center of Learning to promote Air Nomad teachings in the Fire Nation.[10] The order known as the Guiding Wind broke from the temples and sought to break the growing ties between the Air Nomads and elites of the world, believing that such relations had impeded the spiritual growth of all peoples, but the North viewed them as too extreme.[11] Air Nomads from the Northern Temple came to support Avatar Roku in mediating an end to the Northern Passage conflict between the Northern Water Tribe and the Earth Kingdom state of Chenbao when war threatened to break out following a devastating tsunami on the northern Earth Kingdom coast, with each nation blaming the other's benders.[10]

The Northern Air Temple was populated by Earth Kingdom refugees around 100 AG.

After the extermination of the original population, the surrounding area was regularly patrolled by the Fire Army. A group of Knowledge Seekers managed to find an ancient airbender training tool from the ruins of the temple before it could be destroyed by Fire Nation soldiers, stealing the artifact from them in the night. The Knowledge Seekers brought the airbender tool back to Wan Shi Tong's Library, where it was successfully preserved.[12] The temple complex was later rediscovered by a group of refugees led by the mechanist around 89 AG,[2] after which it was extensively modified from its original state to accommodate the lifestyle of the new residents. As the mechanist added new inventions, the temple underwent many technological upgrades, which often required the destruction or expansion of many original structures. While searching for signs of the Avatar, the Fire Nation eventually discovered the temple's established refugee population and threatened to destroy their new home; however, the mechanist was able to make a deal with the military, in which he would design weapons for the Fire Lord in exchange for letting his people live in peace.[13]

The mechanist used the airbender staffs he found within to make his own gliders and give his paraplegic son Teo a new life in the air. During the years the refugees lived in the temple, some were eventually seen gliding around it by other Earth Kingdom villagers, who came to call them "air walkers". Hopeful to see other survivors of the Air Nomad Genocide, Aang, Katara, and Sokka traveled to the Northern Air Temple, where they discovered that the "air walkers" were just the gliding refugees.

Aang was initially displeased with the modifications to the temple.

They met up with Teo, who proudly showed them around the temple and its many innovations. Sokka was immediately enthralled by the changes. Aang, however, was angered and saddened by them as they had destroyed part of his people's history; he saw them as a violation of the temple's original sanctity. In an attempt to cheer Aang up, Teo took him and Katara to the inner sanctuary of the temple, convinced that, since it could only be opened by airbending, it was still untouched by the technology. Aang eventually agreed to open the sanctuary. However, inside they found a storage room for Fire Nation weapons instead of ancient Air Nomad relics.

The mechanist explained that the Fire Nation had found the Northern Air Temple about a year after the Earth Kingdom refugees made it their home, and that the Fire Nation had threatened to destroy everything by burning the temple to the ground. In an attempt to save the settlement, the mechanist had offered his services. The Fire Nation had been extorting him to manufacture weapons for them ever since, under the threat of an attack if he did not comply.

The refugees defended their new home against the Fire Nation Army.

After Aang forcefully expelled War Minister Qin, the representative of the Fire Nation, thereby terminating the partnership between the mechanist and the Fire Nation, the latter gave action to the threat and launched an attack against the temple. Although they initially managed to hold the Fire Nation forces at bay with their control over the sky, the defenders were no match for the Fire Nation's tundra tanks. In a last attempt to repel the advancing army, Sokka and the mechanist, piloting the first made hot air balloon, threw their fuel source overboard to ignite the natural gas pocket held in a cave beneath the temple. Their venture succeeded as the explosion blew up part of the mountain, destroying the only path to the temple and forcing the Fire Nation to retreat, thereby protecting it from future attacks. The temple remained unscathed by Fire Nation attack and the subsequent explosion.[1]

The mechanist continued to produce inventions at the temple; however, this time they would be used to help defeat the Fire Nation during the invasion of the Fire Nation.[14]

Some time after the Hundred Year War, Avatar Aang spearheaded the restoration of the air temples with the help of the Air Acolytes. To restore the portions of the Northern Air Temple that were destroyed during War Minister Qin's attack, they called in the help of earthbenders to reinforce the damaged mountain,[15] and the holes created by the explosions were filled in with new buildings.[16] The Acolytes later came to inhabit the temple, now free of the methane[17] that had leaked throughout it,[15] while the refugees that had previously lived there moved elsewhere and the technological advancements they had installed in the temple were removed.[4]

After the events of Harmonic Convergence in 171 AG, and the return of airbending, Tenzin brought many of the newly discovered airbenders found throughout the Earth Kingdom to the Northern Air Temple so that they could be trained to master their new abilities and help restore the Air Nation. The area, however, had also attracted the attention of poachers looking to capture the endangered wild flying bison around the temple in order to supply the Earth Queen and her royal courts desire for exotic meat. They would come into conflict with Tenzin and his airbender trainees before being subdued and imprisoned in the cages in which they had kept the captured bison.[5]

The temple collapsed after Ghazan turned the foundations into lava.

The temple came under attack and sustained some damage when the Red Lotus arrived in order to round up all the people staying there to use as leverage to get to the Avatar. Due to P'Li's relentless combustionbending bombardments, many temple pathways sported holes in the stones, while Ghazan's lavabending had liquefied part of the inner courtyard and Ming-Hua's waterbending destroyed some of the stone Air Nomad statues.[18] Mako, Bolin, and Asami later arrived at the temple to free the captured airbenders while Korra turned herself in to the Red Lotus. It was a trap, however, and Ghazan created a pool of lava, preventing them from escaping, while flooding the temple in the process. Following Tenzin's guidance, Bolin broke through a wall, allowing Team Avatar to escape via the basement tunnels of the temple. After they fled the temple on Kai's bison, the building collapsed as its foundations had been destroyed by the lava.[6]

After its destruction, some of the Air Nation wished to find a place to fill the gap that the Northern Air Temple left, while others even held out hope of somehow rebuilding it.[19]


The temple was designed to be a part of its natural surroundings and to fit harmoniously with nature — large hallways harness wind and allow air to naturally flow within. It was home to the airbender monks and their students and used primarily as a training ground for airbenders. As a result of being built for and by them, several of the temples' doors and mechanisms are operable only through means of airbending.[1]

The mechanist made some serious structural changes to the temple which compromised its rich culture.

The temple remained a peaceful sanctuary until it was attacked by the Fire Nation during the passing of Sozin's Comet, one hundred years prior to Team Avatar's visit. It was left abandoned until the Earth Kingdom refugees, under the leadership of the mechanist and his son, arrived ninety years later and retro-fitted it for non-airbender living. Everything in the temple is powered by hot air, like elevator-type contraptions to carry people from level to level and the gliders that use the hot air currents outside the temple to help them fly.[2]

Sometime after the conclusion of the Hundred Year War, the temple was restored to its former glory through the efforts of Avatar Aang and the Air Acolytes.[4]

Air temple sanctuary

The hall leading to the sanctuary was still untouched by the mechanist's alterations when Team Avatar arrived in 100 AG.

Located inside the air temple, this great hall was originally built as a spiritual place where only the elder monks and the Avatar were allowed. Only a master airbender can open the door to the sanctum. Because of this, Aang thought it was the only part of the temple that was untouched. As it turned out, however, the mechanist used physics and clever mechanics to open it,[20] and use it as his secret weapons laboratory. After a confrontation between Aang and War Minister Qin, and seeing the disapproval in the eyes of his son, the mechanist stopped using it for this purpose.[1]


There were several cloisters around the Northern Air Temple, which housed dormitory cells that young airbenders-in-training lived and slept in. The Air Acolytes moved into the cloisters after they restored the temple to its former glory.[21]


The Northern Air Temple houses a leaf-shaped courtyard with five protuberances that each have a statue of a flying bison at the end. Airbenders came here to relax and converse with one another after a day of training.[5]

Mechanist's workshop

The mechanist tested inventions in his workshop, such as a prototype war balloon.

Located on a quiet wing of the air temple, the mechanist's workshop was a place where he created and experimented with his newest inventions. The room was filled with all sorts of contraptions, ranging from prototypes of the gliders and a hot air balloon to blueprints for various vehicles, among which was a giant drill. It was here that War Minister Qin entered the temple through a secret door, designed by the mechanist. The workshop was also equipped with an alarm that was triggered when anyone entered the temple's inner sanctuary.[1][20]

Like the rest of the temple, this room was also restored to its former glory. All the schematics and inventions of the mechanist were cleared out. The hidden passage once used by Qin remained in place and was used by Tenzin, Mako, Bolin, and Asami in their attempt to escape the lava flow created by Ghazan. They did not follow the staircase toward the end, however, as the rapidly approaching flow of lava forced them to create a side-exit.[6]

Radio room

Following the temple's restoration by the Air Acolytes, a room in the temple was repurposed to serve as a radio room. The use of a radio allowed the residents of the Northern Air Temple to remain in contact with Air Acolytes living in the other air temples with relative ease, while also allowing citizens from other areas of the world to contact the otherwise secluded settlement. Tenzin used the radio to alert Kya on Air Temple Island that he had arrived with recruits and he later used it to correspond with Korra in Zaofu.[5]

Training facilities

Training atop bamboo poles helped airbenders hone their heaven-to-earth connection.

In one of the temple's many courtyards, a field of bamboo poles was erected for the purpose of airbending training, specifically to develop balance through honing an individual's heaven-to-earth connection. Another courtyard features a Bagua Circle for the practice of circle-walking and other movements associated with airbending, while an elaborate obstacle course was also built near the temple grounds to train airbenders in speed and lightness.[5]


The original inhabitants of the temple were Air Nomads, who once hosted the sky bison polo championships at this temple prior to the genocide.[22] Following the Fire Nation's annihilation of the airbenders, a group of Earth Kingdom refugees came and took residence in the temple, building a new life for themselves in the sky using the mechanist's new inventions, and subsequently further aiding the disappearance of the Air Nomad customs.[1]


Hermit crabs made a home in the Northern Air Temple.

An animal species that inhabits the air temples is a small, land-dwelling hermit crab. They look quite similar to their aquatic cousins, with a similar shell-switching lifestyle, but are covered in a thick coat of black and white hair. They seem to prefer damp, dark places and are apparently very adaptable, as the specimens in the Northern Air Temple survived a complete refurbishment of the entire complex, spearheaded by the mechanist. It seems fitting and is perhaps not coincidental that a nomadic animal by nature would live among the Air Nomads.[1] Fireflies can also be found in the temple, and are used by the mechanist in large numbers as a natural source of light.[1] At some point after the Hundred Year War, a herd of flying bison was found near the temple.[5]

Notable figures


  • The murals on the temple's walls, which Aang referred to as "the history of [his] people", depicted Air Nomads learning airbending from the sky bison.[22]
  • In the film, none of the machinery is present in the air sanctuary, as the mechanist is not referenced.
  • The Northern Air Temple and Whaletail Island were the only known Air Nomad territories that were inhabited around 100 AG.
  • As mentioned by Katara, it takes at least two days for Appa to fly himself and the others from the temple to the Northern Water Tribe.[1]
  • Located in the Earth Kingdom mainland, the Northern Air Temple was the only air temple not situated on an island.
  • The temple and its surroundings were based on the mountains of Whistler, Canada.[23]
  • For the temple's appearance in The Legend of Korra, the creators brought out old designs for the location created by Elsa Garagarza, Jevon Bue, and Enzo Baldi to base the temple's redesigned look on.[15]
    • The production team also built a CG model of the temple for the storyboard artists to base their shots around.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Filoni, Dave (director). (November 4, 2005). "The Northern Air Temple". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: Northern Air Temple.
  3. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: The Southern Air Temple.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Legend of Korra: Enhanced Experience, page one.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Mel (director). (July 18, 2014). "Original Airbenders". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (August 22, 2014). "Enter the Void". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 12. Nick.com.
  7. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "A Breath of Fresh Air". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 40.
  9. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 41.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 46.
  11. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 51.
  12. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 15.
  13. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Character: Mechanist.
  14. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 30, 2007). "The Day of Black Sun, Part 1: The Invasion". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan & Zwyer, Melchior (December 2, 2014). "Original Airbenders" commentary. Book Three: Change Blu-ray.
  16. The Legend of Korra—The Art of the Animated Series, Book Three: Change, page 98.
  17. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan & Dos Santos, Joaquim (December 2, 2014). "Enter the Void" commentary. Book Three: Change Blu-ray.
  18. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (August 15, 2014). "The Ultimatum". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 11. Nick.com.
  19. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 91.
  20. 20.0 20.1 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: The Air Temple Sanctuary.
  21. The Legend of Korra—The Art of the Animated Series, Book Three: Change, page 146.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Avatar Extras for "The Northern Air Temple" on Nicktoons Network.
  23. DiMartino, Michael Dante & Konietzko, Bryan (May 6, 2008). "The Western Air Temple" commentary. Book 3: Fire, Volume 3 DVD.

See also