Depiction in the series
Lauren Faust's inspiration for Canterlot, with its castle carved into the side of the mountain, was Minas Tirith from The Lord of the Rings. The city features ivory towers with golden spires, and many waterfalls and rivers running through it.
The distance between Canterlot and Ponyville is traveled by Twilight Sparkle in a short amount of time, riding in a flying chariot driven by the Pegasus royal guards in Friendship is Magic, part 1. Princess Celestia travels much the same way in Swarm of the Century, and in Sweet and Elite, Rarity's friends manage to get from Ponyville to Canterlot within a day.
Many high-society ponies in the show hail from Canterlot, including Photo Finish, Hoity Toity, Sapphire Shores, and Fancypants. The episode Sweet and Elite takes place in Canterlot, featuring coffee shops, a racetrack, a theater, an art exhibit, and a high-class restaurant. In the episode, the vast majority of the residents of Canterlot are unicorns. The city has a train station, first seen in Hearth's Warming Eve, and various events such as the Equestria Rodeo Competition and National Dessert Competition are held in Canterlot.
The city is also home to Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, which is featured in The Cutie Mark Chronicles, where Twilight Sparkle began her studies under Princess Celestia.
Canterlot hosts the Grand Galloping Gala, a formal royal ball held in the castle itself and attended by only select ponies, which is mentioned throughout Season 1 in The Ticket Master, Suited For Success, Sweet and Elite, and featured in the episode The Best Night Ever. Another high society event is the Canterlot Garden Party, held on the castle grounds, a very exclusive event that Rarity says is second to only the Grand Galloping Gala. It is portrayed in Sweet and Elite. There is also a palace labyrinth area, which holds several statues depicting ponies in regal capes, the most puzzling being the statue depicting Discord, which doubles as the stone imprisonment for the draconequus.
The city features prominently in A Canterlot Wedding, when Twilight Sparkle's brother, Shining Armor, and Princess Cadence get married. It is revealed that there is an extensive cave system underneath Canterlot that, according to Queen Chrysalis, was mined for its precious gems by greedy unicorns until it was exhausted, sealed up, and forgotten. The city itself was surrounded by a protective force field by Shining Armor to keep out an unknown threat—later turning out to be Changelings—who smashed through the field and attacked the city.
Canterlot is featured in the online Flash game Castle Creator.