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A sanctuary is an area where PvP combat is disabled, and turning on your PvP flag will have no effect until you leave the sanctuary. Sanctuaries were introduced in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Places like Nighthaven and Booty Bay are not sanctuaries; PvP combat is still possible there.

Sanctuaries differ from the effect of manually turning off one's PvP flag, (or, on PvP servers, entering a friendly territory) in that PvP combat is immediately disabled upon entering one; there is no five minute wait. Because of this, it is possible to evade PvP combat by entering a sanctuary.

Note that just because PvP combat is disabled, that does not mean that a sanctuary is a safe haven; for example, the monsters on the Stair of Destiny are not PvP NPCs and will attack players if aggroed.

Known sanctuaries

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