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Ever since I played Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and then went back to play the other games in the series, I have wondered about the relative size of Hyrule (both the kingdom and the world). Part of this is because Zelda II shows us a massive landscape, yet condenses all of our journey in the original Zelda (and thus, most every other Zelda game) down into a few tiles at most.
The map included here at the top of this article is one I drew up myself using NES-era graphics in order to represent some of the wider realm of Hyrule. This is actually being done for a fan-game I am working on called The Legend of Zelda: Sword of Moria as a way to help me visualize areas as I create them, but it is factually accurate as best I can make it to the wider areas of Hyrule. Despite being incomplete (expect a completed map sometime later on!), this shows you Tolemac in the far south, Old Hyrule (where most games take place) just above it (based on A Link to the Past‘s landscape), the Gerudo Desert area, the Death Mountain area, Calta Canyon and Calatia, the western part of North Hyrule (from Zelda II, which is theorized to be a future Labrynna), and the small peninsular Principality of Arcadia (mentioned in one of the Nintendo Adventure Books).
The first question I always have is this: If we accept that the small region in Zelda II called “Death Mountain Area” is where most of the games take place, why is it that this area (which we explore in the original game) is largely abandoned by the later stages of that timeline? The only answer I have been able to come up with (and friends of mine agree with) is that sometime after A Link to the Past, Ganon’s forces effectively overrun that region of the world in their maddening quest to obtain the Triforce. By then, it seems that the seat of government for the Kingdom of Hyrule has moved into a distant land north of Death Mountain, possibly where Labrynna once was, and Old Hyrule has fallen mostly into ruin.
In the Oracle games, we see the lands of Holodrum and Labrynna. These lands bear a striking resemblance to “East Hyrule” and “West Hyrule” from Zelda II, but this was likely done on purpose. Since there were originally going to be three games on the Game Boy Color that would together stand as a multi-part retelling of the two NES classics, this similarity makes sense. If we accept that as a canon fact, then since Zelda II is much later in the timeline, these areas were obviously absorbed into the greater kingdom of Hyrule, which by that time was a vast and powerful state with multiple towns and areas under its control.
We also know from official maps that the Link of the two NES games comes from a kingdom west of the mountains called Calatia – a region which gets focused on in some of the comics. In one of the Nintendo Adventure Books, Ganon takes the form of a knight from a distant kingdom called Moria, though no information is provided as to what that land is like or where it is in the first place. Then, in the cartoon, we meet a prince from a neighboring country called Arcadia (featured on my own map).
Oh, and let’s not forget about Gamelon, Koridai, or Tolemac – all three locations from the CD-i Zelda games (which, yes, are licensed products!). Gamelon appears to be an island not far from Hyrule since the King’s brother is that land’s ruling duke. Koridai has no specific location other than being an island somewhere, but Tolemac is described as being “south of Hyrule” and appears to be a small island realm.
Beyond these locations, we’d need to start talking about parallel worlds and the like, so I’d prefer not to have to get into Termina or the Ocean King’s Realm in this article.
But, to answer the question posed here, Hyrule as a world appears to be fairly large. Most of the games appear to be set on a rather large continent (or two, if we consider East Hyrule to be an island-like continent) and its surrounding islands, and the region from most games is rather small in this very large scaled land. Even then, I’d wager we’ve only seen a small portion of the overall world.
If you like fan maps, let me leave you with this one linked here, which shows the areas of Zelda and Zelda II in a very artistic form. I think you’ll like it!