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Minas Tirith

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The name Minas Tirith refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Minas Tirith (disambiguation).
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Minas Tirith
Ted Nasmith - Minas Tirith at Dawn.jpg
General Information
Other namesMinas Anor
LocationEast Gondor
DescriptionWhite city of seven levels
Reunited Kingdom
People and History
EventsSiege of Minas Tirith
GalleryImages of Minas Tirith

Minas Tirith ("Tower of the Guard") is the capital city of Gondor.


Geography and Physical Description

Minas Tirith was situated on the Hill of Guard – the "out-thrust knee" of Mount Mindolluin, connected to the main mass of the mountain by a narrow 'shoulder'.[1][2] It was surrounded by the Pelennor Fields, fertile townlands stretching from the walls of the city proper to the Rammas Echor.[1]

The city was built on seven levels cut into the hill. Each level had a wall and a gate, placed such that the path up through the levels wound to and fro rather than following a straight line. A outcropping of rock as high as the seventh level bisected all the lower levels except the lowest on the line of the Great Gate. The winding path through the city therefore passed through tunnels in this 'keel' five times. The uppermost tunnel emerged into the Citadel. The Citadel was the city's strongest point, rising seven hundred feet above the Great Gate and surrounded by high walls and battlements on the 'keel'. It housed the Court of the Fountain and the Tower of Ecthelion, which brought the total height of the city to one thousand feet. The 'shoulder' of rock that joined the Hill of Guard to the main mass of Mount Mindolluin rose to the level of the fifth wall and was fortified with large ramparts. On it was Rath Dínen and the Hallows, where the tombs of the Kings and Stewards of the city were built.[1]


Originally known as Minas Anor (the "Tower of the Sun"), it was in built in Second Age 3320 by Anárion, brother of Isildur and second son of Elendil, High King of Arnor. It also known as the White City and City of the Kings. Ostoher rebuilt the city in Third Age 420, and it gradually became more important than Osgiliath, the original capital. King Tarondor finally moved the King's House from Osgiliath to the city in 1640. In the year 2002, Minas Ithil (the "Tower of the Moon") was captured by the Ringwraiths and renamed Minas Morgul. Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith, meaning "Tower of the Guard", to indicate that since the fall of Minas Ithil, Minas Tirith was to guard Gondor against evil from Mordor. The Rohirrim sometimes translate this into their own language as Mundburg.

During the War of the Ring (Third Age 30183019), Minas Tirith was said to "have less than half of the population which could have dwelt at ease" in it.

In The Return of the King, Minas Tirith is besieged by troops of Mordor, the Easterlings and the Haradrim, under the Great Darkness generated by Mordor. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields takes place on March 15, 3019 in the fields surrounding the city. Despite heavy losses, the battle is finally won by Gondor.

On May 1, 3019, King Aragorn II's coronation took place on the plain outside Minas Tirith, he then entered the city as King.

Minas Tirith is known to stand firm well into the Fourth Age.

The eagle who brings the news of Sauron's defeat to Minas Tirith refers to the city as the Tower of Anor. Although this is nowhere described, it is possible that the city may have reverted to its original name once it no longer needed to guard against evil. An argument against this is that in the abandoned sequel The New Shadow, which takes place during the time of Elessar's son Eldarion, the city was clearly named Minas Tirith.

Map #40 in Barbara Strachey's Journeys of Frodo is a plan of Minas Tirith. Pages 138 & 139 in Karen Wynn Fonstad's revised The Atlas of Middle-earth is another plan of Minas Tirith. They are at variance with each other, as the only authoritative maps by Tolkien are just sketches.


The sharp ship-like bastion is mentioned to be 700 feet above the Great Gate of Minas Tirith. The breadth of the city would have average 3100 feet.[3]

In Adaptations

In Peter Jackson's The Return of the King, the walls of the city are defended by a battery of 100 trebuchets. These played a significant role in the siege in the movie, as they were responsible for destroying many orcs, siege towers and catapults. Sadly, a number of them were smashed to bits by fell beasts, but all were repaired in the end.

Minas Tirith by Ryszard Derdzinski

Tolkien's description of the physical layout of Minas Tirith is followed scrupulously in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King film, although there is no reason to suppose that the top of the rock is flattened and paved, and in the book it is not the location for the coronation of Aragorn which occurs on the Pelennor Field outside Minas Tirith, he then enters the city as King. In the film version it is within clear sight of the mountains surrounding Mordor and the fires of Mount Doom, so much that in at least one night scene the light of it shines on the faces of viewers from the city walls. However, in the books the mountains were far enough away that from the city they looked like a low dark shadow over the land far away. As well, in the book the populace was almost entirely evacuated before the battle. In the movie, the women and children remained, and many were slaughtered in the lower levels.

See also

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