|Realms||Gondolin (under Turgon)|
|Inhabitants||Noldor (and possibly Sindar)|
|Description||White city in center of Tumladen in the Encircling Mountains|
|Other names||Ondolindë, Seven Names (see below)|
|Etymology||S. gond "rock" + dolen "hidden"|
|Events||The Fall of Gondolin|
|References||The Silmarillion, The Fall of Gondolin (The Book of Lost Tales Part 2)|
Gondolin (S, pron. [ˈɡondolin]; First Age c. 126 – 510, existed c. 384 years), the great Hidden City of Turgon was concealed from friend and foe alike during the First Age by the Encircling Mountains, and guarded from trespassers by the Eagles of Thorondor.
In the fiftieth year of the First Age, Turgon journeyed from his halls in Nevrast with his cousin Finrod. Ulmo guided him to the hidden valley of Tumladen, and there he founded Gondolin. The city was completed circa 126, and Turgon's people who had dwelt in Nevrast traveled there secretly.
The city was inviolate for almost four hundred years; Turgon did not break his secret leaguer until the time of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad in 471, and even after that disastrous battle he was able to return in secret to the city with the aid of Húrin Thalion.
Morgoth's servants finally discovered Gondolin through the treachery of Maeglin, and it was sacked in 510 (Main article: the Fall of Gondolin). Turgon was lost in the Fall of the city, but some few (including Tuor and Idril, with their child Eärendil) escaped the destruction and dwelt as Exiles at the Mouths of Sirion.
Gondolin was known as the City of Seven Names:
- Gondobar (Stone House)
- Gondothlimbar (House of the Stone Folk)
- Gwarestrin (Tower of Guard)
- Gar Thurion (Secret Place)
- Loth (Flower)
- Lothengriol (Plan Flower-Blossom, later stated as Lily of the Valley).
The Building of Gondolin
The round valley of Tumladen, within the Encircling Mountains, had originally been a lake, and in its centre stood a hill that had once been an island: Amon Gwareth. It was here that Turgon decided to found his Hidden City, as a memorial to ancient Tirion that lay beyond the Great Sea.
The first building of the city took fifty-two years to complete. After this time, the people of Turgon, a great number of Noldor and Sindar, traveled from Nevrast, where they had dwelt, and secretly entered the valley of Tumladen. Turgon gave his city the name Ondolindë (Quenya for "The Rock of the Music of Water", because of the fountains of Amon Gwareth), but in Sindarin this was rendered Gondolin, the Hidden Rock.
After their arrival in the new city, the Gondolindrim continued to labour in its building, until it was said to rival even Tirion itself. Its walls stood high and white above the plain, and its most prominent feature was the great Tower of the King, where, among the fountains, Turgon himself made Glingal and Belthil, trees of gold and silver made in memory of the Two Trees of Valinor.
Tolkien drew several pictures of Gondolin himself, but his largest description of Gondolin is found in the Fall of Gondolin.
- "...Then they looked up and could see, and lo! they were at the foot of steep hills, and these hills made a great circle wherein lay a wide plain, and set therein, not rightly at the midmost but rather nearer to that place where they stood, was a great hill with a level top, and upon that summit rose a city in the new light of the morning..."
- ― The Fall of Gondolin (Houghton Mifflin version page 158)
- "...But Tuor looked upon the walls of stone, and the uplifted towers, upon the glistering pinnacles of the town, and he looked upon the stairs of stone and marble, bordered by slender balustrades and cooled by the leap of fountains of Amon Gwareth..."
- ― The Fall of Gondolin (Houghton Mifflin version page 159)
- "...Then did the throng return within the gates and the wanderers with them, and Tuor saw they were of iron and of great height and strength. Now the streets of Gondolin were paved with stone and wide, kerbed [curbed] with marble, and fair houses and courts amid gardens of bright flowers were set about the ways, and many towers of great slenderness and beauty builded of white marble and carved most marvellously rose to the heaven. Squares there were lit with fountains and the home of birds that sang amid the branches of their aged trees, but of all these the greatest was that place where stood the king's palace, and the tower thereof was the loftiest in the city, and the fountains that played before the doors shot twenty fathoms and seven in the air and fell in a singing rain of crystal: therein did the sun glitter splendidly by day, and the moon most magically shimmered by night. The birds that dwelt there were of the whiteness of snow and their voices sweeter than a lullaby of music. On either side of the doors of the palace were two trees, one that bore blossom of gold and the other of silver, nor did they ever fade, for they were shoots of old from the glorious Trees of Valinor that lit those places before Melko and Gloomweaver withered them: and those trees the Gondolindrim named Glingol and Bansil..."
- ― Fall of Gondolin (Houghton Mifflin version page 160)
See also quotes at Tumladen.
The Coming of Maeglin
There followed two centuries of happy peace: Morgoth was besieged in the far north of the world, and the people of Gondolin lived undisturbed by the events outside their fair city. At last, though, a seed of discontent appeared: King Turgon's sister Aredhel determined to leave the city, much against Turgon's wishes, and journey into Middle-earth. Soon after her departure, her guards returned, and reported that they had lost her in the dark and sorcerous region to the south east of the city, known as Nan Dungortheb.
More than twenty years then passed, and then suddenly Aredhel returned. With her was one who she claimed to be Maeglin, her son by Eöl the Dark Elf of Nan Elmoth. This Maeglin accepted Turgon as lord, but his father Eöl had followed his wife and son to Gondolin and been captured at the entranceway. He was brought before Turgon. Eöl refused to submit to Turgon's authority, and instead chose death for himself and his unwilling son. He threw a poisoned dart to slay Maeglin, but instead struck Aredhel, who fell ill with the poison and died. The body of Eöl was broken on the Caragdûr for this.
Maeglin, though, had had no part in these evils, and Turgon accepted him, and he grew to be among the great in Gondolin, wise in council, cunning in smithcraft and mighty in battle.
Two Great Battles
For more than a hundred years after the deaths of Aredhel and Eöl, Gondolin again had peace. The time was coming, though, when Morgoth would break the Siege of Angband, and the unstoppable doom of the Elves would fall upon them. One winter's night, the fires of Angband destroyed the leaguer of the Noldor: the Dagor Bragollach. In this disaster, the people of Gondolin played no immediate part.
They were drawn into the events of those years, though, when two young brothers of the race of Men, Húrin and Huor, were cut off from their army and became lost amid the feet of the Crissaegrim. Thorondor brought them to Turgon. At the bidding of Ulmo, Turgon accepted them, and they remained in Gondolin for almost a year, when they returned to their homes. In this kindly act were the first seeds of Gondolin's destruction, more than fifty years later.
Turgon now devised a new policy for the salvation of the Elves: he began secretly to send his people out westward across the great sea, to seek the land of the Valar and ask their pardon and aid. None of his mariners succeeded, but this was a wise course, though Turgon never knew it: he was lost long before his grandson Eärendil, aided by a Silmaril, finally succeeded in this task.
As time passed since the destruction of the Dagor Bragollach, the Elves of Beleriand began to arm for a counterstroke, and Turgon secretly began his own preparations. Fourteen years after the breaking of the Siege of Angband, and some three hundred and fifty since the completion of Gondolin, Turgon rode for the first time to war. Unknown and unbidden by his kin, he rode to their aid with an army of ten thousand. This was to be the great battle that was to become known as the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.
Morgoth poured much of his strength and resources into discovering the location of the Hidden City, and his spies infested lands about the Encircling Mountains and wherever he could penetrate. After Nargothrond fell, Gondolin was the last great stronghold of the Noldor. With the unbidden coming of Maeglin, the great city began the road to destruction.
The first great blow to the security of Gondolin came by accident. Húrin, who was once held captive by Morgoth, was released to wander in the world, unconsciously furthering the Dark Lord's cause. He came to the edge of the Mountains, hoping that an Eagle would bear him to Gondolin. But Turgon, afraid for the lives of those in his city, and rightfully fearing what Morgoth might have done to Húrin, withheld his good intentions for too long. Húrin, seeing nothing, cried out in a loud voice "Turgon, Turgon, remember the Fen of Serech! O Turgon, will you not hear in your hidden halls?". Morgoth now knew the general area in which Gondolin lay, for his spies were watching this. Húrin turned away, broken and bitter.
Ulmo, the "patron god" of the city, watched with sad eyes, foreseeing the doom of Gondolin. He called forth Tuor, son of Huor, to the Sea, where he gave him a message for Turgon. Tuor delivered this message faithfully, by the aid of Ulmo and an elf named Voronwë finding the city. Turgon listened as Tuor told him Ulmo's advice, that he must abandon the city and seek the sea. For though hitherto the Valar had not listened to his messengers, such a great people they might pardon. Turgon, because of his pride and the love of his city, decided against this warning. Tuor, however, was welcomed in the city as one of them by all save Maeglin. Unwittingly, Turgon, who had always been so careful about strangers, by allowing Tuor to stay sealed the doom of Gondolin. For Tuor and Idril, the King's daughter, fell in love.
It was an extremely rare thing for a man to wed an elf-woman, but Turgon, who loved Tuor as a son, permitted it when he found that his daughter was full willing. Maeglin hated Tuor for this, and plotted his revenge on Idril. . . and as the years passed, on their son, the beautiful Eärendil.
(Main article: The Fall of Gondolin)
While searching for ore and straying (against the commands of Turgon) too far from the city, Maeglin was set upon and captured by Orcs. At his begging and bribing they took him before Morgoth himself, who extracted the information about Gondolin at a price: the death of Tuor and Eärendil, the hand of Idril, and the lordship of Gondolin after its capture.
For this Maeglin was bought, and having betrayed his city, returned there as if nothing had happened. Idril, however, who had noticed and spurned his advances, saw and feared the change that had come over him. Therefore she discussed with her husband the idea of making an escape tunnel. Tuor, confused but willing, complied. In secret (or as close to secrecy as they could come), a tunnel that cut through the iron-like rock of the hill and out under Tumladen almost to the mountains was constructed.
At last Morgoth was ready, and he loosed his massive army upon the doomed city. Again Tuor and others urged Turgon to flee the brunt of the assault, but, convinced of the invincibility of his city (and with Maeglin whispering in his ear of all he would leave behind), he declared that he would stand firm.
There was a great siege, during which Maeglin sought (from the inside) to take Idril and throw Eärendil from the walls. But Tuor arrived in time to save them both, and after a brief struggle hurled Maeglin down into the flames. But the city could not be saved, and thousands were killed. One by one the great lords of Gondolin fell, and Turgon, disillusioned and broken-hearted, ordered all to follow Tuor out through the tunnel when the destruction was inevitable. Only his guard stayed around him, and all who remained were killed as the white tower collapsed.
Gathering as many of the people as they could find, Tuor and Idril escaped down the tunnel. It was a hard road through the mountains; Glorfindel was killed by a balrog that lay in ambush. But at last the Gondolindrim came to Nan-tathren, and after resting there for some time they came down to the refuge at the Mouths of the Sirion, and mourned the loss of the White City.
Major Characters in Gondolin
- Turgon, King of Gondolin and head of the House of the King
- Idril Celebrindal, daughter of Turgon and wife of Tuor
- Aredhel, sister of Turgon, wife of Eöl, and mother of Maeglin
- Twelve Houses of the Gondolindrim
- Maeglin, son of Aredhel and Eöl, betrayer of Gondolin, chief of the House of the Mole
- Tuor, messenger of Ulmo and husband of Idril, father of Eärendil
- Glorfindel, chief of the House of the Golden Flower
- Galdor, chief of the House of the Tree
- Penlod, marshal of the House of the Pillar and the House of the Tower of Snow
- Duilin, master archer and chief of the House of the Swallow
- Egalmoth, chief of the House of the Heavenly Arch
- Salgant, chief of the House of the Harp
- Ecthelion, chief of the House of the Fountain
- Rog, chief of the House of the Hammer of Wrath