Whenever I take over an enemy capital that was a Holy City for another religion, I always convert it to my religion and remove the other religion from it completely.

Sometimes I've noticed that after a few turns, inexplicably, the original religion will spontaneously gain 1 follower, which is enough to give it 10 pressure even though it's not a majority religion.

What causes this? I always make sure to also clear all surrounding cities of the original religion (at least I make sure that my religion is the majority in all cities, meaning that the other religion shouldn't spread). Is it caused by having even one religious follower of the old religion somewhere?

  • 1
    Does a religion being in a minority in a city mean it cannot spread from that city? I was under the impression that all religion anywhere would exert pressure on other nearby cities and eventually spread (albeit potentially very slowly). Also, I think the pressure score for each religion on a city is the pressure exerted on the city, not exerted by the city, as I've seen minority religions with higher pressure scores (eg, because of nearby powerhouse cities for that religion). So the 10 pressure is coming from elsewhere, maybe even just 'internally' as it's the Holy City for that religion?
    – DMA57361
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 12:51
  • Only the dominant religion exerts pressure. The pressure score is the pressure exerted on the city, not by the city, as you say. Holy cities do have internal pressure, but normally the internal pressure on a holy city is 30.
    – Lawton
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 16:58

3 Answers 3


A holy city can only be prevented from regaining a religion if the religion is destroyed. If it isn't, the city will be affected by internal pressure, usually 30. For the religion to be destroyed, there can not be a single city with that faith as its dominant religion. The holy city will continue to become holy again unless you do one of three things.

Option one: Station an inquisitor in the city. Problem solved.

Option two: Find every city with that faith as the dominant religion and change it.

Option three: Surround the holy city with enough cities of your faith so that the internal pressure is not enough to convert it back. This is probably 5, since internal pressure is usually 30.

PS: Don't ask me why internal pressure isn't always 30, I am not sure. It may regenerate over time after an inquisitor or missionary? I have seen it below 30 but never above.

  • I'm not going to accept this just yet, because I'd already eliminated all cities with that religion as majority (there was only one city state left that had the religion at all, and it only had one follower to my 9) but it still came back. Oddly, even though it came back the first time, using an inquisitor on the city to remove the religion the second time caused it to not come back.
    – Mr Smooth
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 22:27

Religion can't be permanently destroyed, unless you Raze the Holy City (Not always possible, as this is often a civ's original capital).

Holy Cities have a special "Self-pressure" that is always 5x the pressure / city value (so 45 on quick, 30 on normal, 20 on epic, 10 on Marathon). This is why they regain their old religion, even when no other followers of that religion still exist. (Such as after a Great Prophet / Inquisitor spiel)

This means that you need to surround a holy city with at least 6 cities of your chosen religion, all within 10 squares (if you do only 5, the city might tie for a majority religion, which may 'unconvert' the city). In this case, the religion might come back, but they will never be able to achieve a majority in a city, rendering them, effectively, eliminated.

The exception, however, is if the holy city's original owner generates enough faith for a great prophet (Great Prophets are always the religion that the civ founded, even if they don't have any cities currently following that religion). Unless you conquer the holy city, all it takes is a great prophet to regain its original religion.

  • Are you sure it's razing the holy city, and not just eliminating the religion?
    – rsegal
    Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 19:33
  • @rsegal That sentence is referring to religious pressure, which affects holy cities even when the dominant religion in that city is something else. The only way to remove all religious pressure for a given religion, means razing the holy city. Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 20:27
  • Interesting. Even if you wipe out the religion entirely, a holy city can resurrect it? That's pretty neat.
    – rsegal
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 3:24
  • Often? I thought it was always the capital. The game didn't let me found a religion from one of my smaller cities.
    – Kyle Baran
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 16:57

The right answer to your question is: Conquer the holy city and annex it. That must be done. Then send in an inquisitor. This will destroy the holy city's pressure. It won't come back. How do I know this? I've done this many times. I always do this. If you leave it as a puppet, it won't work. I like to have almost all the cities at the end of the game following my religion. I take tithe, so it gives me a lot of gold and helps with city states.

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