10 Best Winterhold Mods for Skyrim (All Free)

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Winterhold is an ancient seat of power for the Nords, built with a whispered spell by Arch-Mage Borgas in ancient times.

Over time, Winterhold rose to great power, rivaling major cities like Solitude and Windhelm.

And then, the Great Collapse brought it all down – literally.

By the time TESV takes place, Winterhold has been reduced to a small town similar to Morthal. The one thing worth visiting is the College of Winterhold, and even that has seen better days.

Below I’ll be sharing some powerful spells from the magic school of Modding to give Winterhold that extra push it needs to stand proud next to the other hold capitals.


10. JK’s Skyrim

JK's Skyrim / Skyrim Mod

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Creator JKrojmal has improved Skyrim’s towns and cities since the Legendary Edition days.

JK’s Skyrim is a compilation of every overhaul the famous creator ever released. It allows you to quickly and easily embellish every populated nook and cranny of your game. No need to worry about compatibility!

Of course, the mod includes many important changes to Winterhold.

Some of the most significant transformations include a worthy gate and stone walls around the city. There are also more interesting ruins, including some on the edge of falling into the sea.


9. Magical College of Winterhold

Magical College of Winterhold / Skyrim Mod

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Towering over the Sea of Ghosts’ coast is a wondrous structure unlike anything in the city around it – the College of Winterhold.

For such a storied place of study, the College is underwhelming in vanilla Skyrim. Something about it feels mundane in a world where there are already magic and dragons.

The Magical College of Winterhold mod by Sable17 touches up the College, removing random Nord objects like cattle skulls and hay in favor of more magical decorations.

It also gives students unique rooms matching their personalities, improves the player’s starter room, trims the plants in the courtyard, and lots more.


8. Holds – The City Overhaul

Holds – The City Overhaul / Skyrim Mod

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Holds is a less-known but fantastic overhaul touching almost every settlement in Skyrim – including Winterhold.

This mod isn’t satisfied with just remodeling the town’s exterior. It also adds custom NPCs, books, items, and even equipment.

Winterhold has a more defined personality with unique textures and architecture that’ll make you want to re-explore the town.

Upon entering the town, you’ll notice it looks grander, with a better gate and fortifications.

It gradually becomes more “ruined” as you approach the other edge of town.


7. Obscure’s College of Winterhold

Obscure's College of Winterhold / Skyrim Mod

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Skyrim’s version of Hogwarts is basically the reason Winterhold exists at all.

It was built in the First Era by the First Arch-Mage to sustain the College, and it’s the only reason half of Winterhold survived the Great Collapse – even if conspiracy theorists tell you otherwise.

Obscure’s College of Winterhold gives this institution the grandeur and importance it deserves as a place where so much power is gathered.

The college now has a more robust build, with two new towers, a thicker wall, and not a trace of hay.

You’ll also find unique decorations, new rooms, and even signs to help students navigate the halls.


6. College Students

College Students / Skyrim Mod

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You can have the biggest, most ornate building in all of Tamriel, but you’re nothing but a has-been school of magic with less than five students.

College Students by Reindeer51 introduces a bunch of new faces to the college, all of them students of magic eager to peer into the world’s secrets.

Nords aren’t too fond of magic, so most of these new characters are Elves and Bretons, along with a single Redguard. They all specialize in different magic schools and have complex schedules and routines.

It’s immersive and makes Winterhold feel alive.


5. Winterhold – Expanded Ruins

Winterhold – Expanded Ruins / Skyrim Mod

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Winterhold is a confusing town, to say the least.

Despite the map treating it as a main city, Winterhold feels like little more than a small town if you take away the college.

This is supposed to be explained by the Great Collapse that destroyed most of the town over 100 years ago – but what ruins you do get to see are pretty underwhelming.

The Winterhold Ruins Team brings us a fantastic way to make the town’s history come to life by adding more run-down homes, collapsed towers and walls, a half-buried Hall of the Dead, etc.

There’s plenty to discover, including an underground cavern full of new information about the Great Collapse.


4. Winterhold Restored

Winterhold Restored / Skyrim Mod

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A completely different approach to solving Winterhold’s identity crisis is restoring its former glory as one of the main enclaves of civilization.

Mannenyuki’s Winterhold Restored removes every ruined building and replaces it with new stores, player homes, facilities, a greenhouse, a fishery, etc.

It’s not just an architectural improvement. You’ll also meet new NPCs around town, some of which can become followers and eventually marry the Dragonborn if you so desire.

This mod turns Winterhold into a living, breathing city.


3. Anna’s Winterhold Restored

Anna's Winterhold Restored / Skyrim Mod

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A slightly more minimal approach to bringing back this magical city’s glory is Anna’s Winterhold Restored.

The Great Collapse was long ago, and Skyrim isn’t a place where you just leave perfectly good building materials lying around. This mod imagines what the population would have built with them, making the town feel less hopeless and derelict.

Some new additions include shops, a new mage-oriented player home, and a stable with fresh horses. There’s also a new cliff-side wall protecting the town from the gelid winds.


2. The Great City of Winterhold

The Great City of Winterhold / Skyrim Mod

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I’m a big fan of Soldierofwar’s Great Cities series.

It began with The Great City of Winterhold, an overhaul that makes Winterhold the rich and intriguing settlement it should always have been.

Winterhold used to rival Solitude in riches and power. Not even a catastrophe like the Great Collapse would have turned it into a shantytown like it is in vanilla Skyrim.

This mod gives the city a distinctive architectural style, beefs up the different structures, and expands the ruins to help the player imagine what the town would have looked like in the past.


1. Cities of the North – Winterhold

Cities of the North – Winterhold / Skyrim Mod

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I know some of you would rather avoid messing too much with the game’s maps to avoid mods clashing or because of lore concerns.

If that’s you, check out Cities of the North – Winterhold.

Creator JPSteel2 focused on one thing when remodeling the structures around Winterhold: to give them a memorable architectural style like Solitude, Windhelm, or Markarth that let you know the region you’re in just by looking at the buildings.

I’d have a hard time describing the new architectural style as anything other than “Viking longhouses with funny roofs”.

But it goes a long way to give the city a distinctive soul.

The mod also updates the interiors to match the new style.

The best part about this mod is that you can combine it with others, such as JK’s Skyrim and The Great City of Winterhold, provided you install the corresponding patch.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.