Art by Steve Ditko.
|First appearance||Strange Tales #110 (July 1963)|
|Notable characters||Doctor Strange|
Sanctum Sanctorum is a fictional building appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics and is the residence of Doctor Strange. The building first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963) and is located at 177A Bleecker Street in New York City's Greenwich Village neighborhood, a reference to the address of an apartment once shared by writers Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich.
The Sanctum Sanctorum has appeared in various media adaptations of the Marvel Universe including the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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It first appeared with Doctor Strange in his debut in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). The details of the building have varied by artist, with one reviewer noting, for example, of Marvel Premiere #3 (July 1972) that "[n]ot since the heady days of Ditko for instance, did the doctor's sanctum sanctorum appear in such scrumptious detail, laden it seemed, with the heavy odor of burning incense". In a comical turn in Strange Tales #147, a building inspector informs Strange that he has six months to get the Sanctum Sanctorum repainted and make other repairs, or the building will be condemned.
The Sanctum Sanctorum is a three-story townhouse located at 177A Bleecker Street, "in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village", a reference to the address of an apartment shared in the 1960s by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich. In the comics, the building was said to have been built upon the site of pagan sacrifices, and before that Native American rituals, and is a focal point for supernatural energies.
The building's depiction has varied over the years but some elements remain consistent. Notably, that there seems to be more space inside than there would seem to be from outside. Some corridors form labyrinths, and the arrangement of rooms seems to change by itself. The house holds many powerful magical items, some of which have an innocent appearance. Some are dangerous, such as a radio which is fatal to the touch. The basement contains storage, a furnace, and the laundry. The first floor contains living rooms, dining rooms, and the general library. The second floor holds living quarters for Strange, Wong, and any guests they may have. The third floor of the building is specifically the Sanctum Sanctorum, for that is where Strange has his meditation room and occult library, where he keeps the Book of the Vishanti, and his repository of ancient artifacts and objects of magical power, such as the Orb of Agamotto. The Sanctum consistently has a circular skylight with four swooping lines; this design has stayed with the building despite the window's destruction on many occasions. The design of the window is actually the Seal of the Vishanti; it protects the Sanctum from most supernatural invaders. It is also called the "Window of the Worlds," or the Anomaly Rue. Certain members of the New Avengers appear to acknowledge this. Chemistro, a super-villain member of the Hood's army, though possessing no such power to directly break that of the Vishanti's, was able to change the chemical composition of the wood that held the seal to break it. In one story Baron Mordo was able to transport the house to another dimension.
The Sanctum Sanctorum became the headquarters of the New Avengers for a time, having been magically disguised as an abandoned building designated as a future Starbucks cafe. The run-down disguise extends to the interior of the building as needed, undetectable by even the Extremis armor of Iron Man.
After constructing the house, Doctor Strange cast a permanent, intricate spell of mystical force to protect it. Despite this, it was seemingly destroyed in a siege by mystical forces, during the Midnight Sons storyline, while various heroes such as the Nightstalkers, Ghost Rider, and Johnny Blaze were hiding inside.[volume & issue needed]
After the use of unacceptable dark magics in the fight against the Hulk, the Sanctum is invaded by the Hood's army, who are ultimately defeated amid much damage to the building. Doctor Strange is forced to retreat when the battle allows the government-sanctioned Mighty Avengers to take over the Sanctum. Brother Voodoo is called in to neutralize the remnants of the defensive magics.
On at least one occasion, Doctor Strange has destroyed the defenses of the Sanctum to avoid their exploitation by a foe.
In the "Marvel Zombies" continuity, a handful of heroes seek help and information at the Sanctum. Wong is slain there by a zombified Doctor Druid, who is then killed by Ash Williams. Some of the semi-living books in the house provide vital assistance in the zombie-resistance effort.
In the "Ultimate Marvel" continuity, a taxi propelled by great force pierces the defense of the house. The top-floor window sigil is shattered, along with the prison that holds monsters. These are let loose, followed by Dormammu. The fight that follows destroys the Sanctum and kills Strange.