The Dark Portal, also known as the Great Portal, is one of the two gateway portals that teleport between Azeroth and Draenor (Outland). The Azeroth side's portal is located in the central parts of the Blasted Lands in southern Azeroth, while the Draenor counterpart, the Stair of Destiny, is located in eastern section of the Tanaan Jungle in the alternate timeline, or Hellfire Peninsula of today.
To reach the Dark Portal, Alliance players can fly or ride to Nethergarde Keep, while Horde players can travel to Dreadmaul Hold. From either base, players may then ride down the main road down to the Portal crater.
With Patch 3.2.0, there are portals to the Dark Portal from near the portal trainers in major cities (e.g.: the Mage Tower in Stormwind, the mage trainer area in Silvermoon, the Pools of Vision in Thunder Bluff). These portals require level 58 to use, and will deposit the player into a crack in the crater in front of the portal. Alliance and Horde portals all drop players in the same location; though players will be Honorless Targets for thirty seconds following their arrival in the Blasted Lands, players on PvP servers will not be completely safe from combat until they reach the Stair of Destiny on the Outland side of the portal.
While it remains unclear if the rift between Azeroth and Draenor actually requires a physical housing of some kind in order to allow more than a few beings to pass through it at a time, it is worth noting that every time it has been widened for this reason the Portal has been seen to have a large, stone-carved facade that lends it a well-defined rectangular shape. If nothing else, this facade seems to have a stabilizing effect on the rift: on both ends of the connection, destruction of the Portal's frame has proven to render it impassable until it can be reopened by a being of suitable magical ability.
The original Dark Portal's physical construction is something of a mystery: It was first described simply as a fifty-foot tall "portal" encircled by a ring of towering obsidian stones, with no clear indication of how or by whom any of this was set in place. In its first actual appearance, the Portal rift itself was depicted as a blue gateway set within a stone archway atop a small flight of steps. Interestingly, when adventurers from Azeroth were sent back in time to protect Medivh during the original opening of the Dark Portal, its stone construction was already in place prior to the completion of the ritual. This suggests that Medivh previously conjured or erected the structure himself with the aid of magic, perhaps as a focal point for his spell. Alternatively, its physical form may have simply appeared at the opening of the rift, summoned from the Twisting Nether in a manner similar to a warlock's [Demonic Gateway] or [Ritual of Summoning] portal.
This first incarnation of the Portal featured pairs of large, curved horns protruding from either side of the Portal frame proper, which itself was adorned with carvings of curved runes and rather angry looking skulls. The aforementioned "towering obsidian stones" may have been added added as embellishments during the orcish occupation of the area. It was destroyed at the conclusion of theSecond War by archmage Khadgar of the Alliance of Lordaeron.
Early art of the Horde entering Azeroth during the First War.
As seen in Warcraft II.
As seen in Warcraft IIcinematics.
As seen in theWarcraft II Horde cinematic.
As seen in theWarcraft II Alliance cinematic.
When destroyed by Khadgar in Warcraft II.
As seen in the The Burning Crusade.
Khadgar destroying the First Portal.
Alternate model, as seen during aflashback in Warcraft III. The undead faction's special "Demon Gate" building was used for the Dark Portal in this sequence.
The Portal was later reconstructed when the orc chieftain Ner'zhul, in search of powerful enchanted artifacts with which to open yet more portals, reopened the rift from Draenor and sent his forces back to Azeroth. Like it's predecessor, there is no record of exactly by whom or what means it was built, but by the time it was used by the Alliance Expedition to launch a counter-attack on Draenor, the Dark Portal's facade had been restored. This second version, flanked by carvings of large, hooded figures wielding swords and crowned with a stone serpent baring its fangs as if petrified mid-strike, is the one known to most modern adventurers; it stands to this day within the Blasted Lands of the Eastern Kingdoms.
Though the second Portal's frame has changed little in the years since it appeared, the rift it contains has changed color multiple times. Both before and after the Destruction of Draenor, during which Khadgar severed the connection between Azeroth's Dark Portal and its sibling on the Draenor side, the rift appeared blue. Many years later, its hue shifted to a green color when the demonLord Kazzak used an unknown artifact to restore this connection and pass through to Outland. Finally, it took on a shade of crimson red when its connection to modern Outland was preempted bypowerful magic that instead linked it to a past, alternate version of Draenor.
As seen on the cover of The Last Guardian.
The Dark Portal byBrian Huang.
As seen in World of Warcraft (before Patch 2.0.1).
As seen in The Burning Crusade (Patch 2.0.1to 5.4.8).
As seen in Warlords of Draenor (after Patch 6.0.2).
It is interesting to note that as imposing as the Dark Portal is, it is significantly smaller and less ornate than its counterpart, the Stair of Destiny. It's unknown what the potential ramifications of this size discrepancy are—it would appear that something far larger could enter the Stair of Destiny than could actually exit the Dark Portal. Perhaps luckily for those involved, this does not seem to have ever been attempted.
Both versions of the Stair of Destiny featured larger, more detailed versions of the hooded guardians that adorn Azeroth's Dark Portal, and replaced the upper image of a striking serpent with full, intricate carvings of a dragon's head and two claws. They were further embellished with all manner of runes and stonework on the front, side, and even rear faces, in contrast with the relative plainness of the Azeroth Portal. While Outland's version of the Stair is by no means pristine, with large chunks of stone and other features likely knocked off the structure during the cataclysmic events of Draenor's destruction, the alternate Draenor's newly constructed version of the Stair lies in ruins following the counterattack to the Iron Horde Incursion.
Of all the various incarnations of the Dark Portal, whether in Azeroth, Draenor, or Outland, the only one to ever be seen under construction is the alternate Draenor's Stair of Destiny. It is still unclear if Azeroth's Dark Portal—or even the original Stair of Destiny—were similarly constructed using some form of manual labor.
As seen in modern Outland.
Stair of Destiny of Outland
The Dark Portal byGlenn Rane.
As seen in alternate Draenor.
As seen under construction in alternate Draenor.
As seen after destruction in alternate Draenor.
There are a few instances in which the appearances of the first and second Dark Portals were unintentionally switched: