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General information
PronunciationS, [ˈɡondolin]
Other namesOndolindë (Q), The Hidden City, The Hidden Realm, The Hidden Rock, The Rock of the Music of Water
(See Seven Names)
LocationNorthen Beleriand; in Tumladen, surrounded by the Echoriad
LanguageMithrimin (Sindarin), Quenya
Preceded byNevrast
ConstructedF.A. 116
Fall of GondolinF.A. 510
existed c. 394 years
"Glory dwelt in that city of Gondolin of the Seven Names, and its ruin was the most dread of all the sacks of cities upon the face of Earth."
The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "The Fall of Gondolin"

Gondolin, 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.

Some years after Exile of the Noldor, Turgon was guided by Ulmo to the hidden valley of Tumladen, and there he founded Gondolin. The city was completed circa 116, and Turgon's people who had dwelt in Nevrast travelled there secretly, becoming the Gondolindrim.

The city was inviolate for almost four hundred years; Turgon did not break his secret leaguer until the time of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad in F.A. 472, and even after that disastrous battle he was able to return in secret to the city with the aid of Húrin Thalion.

Morgoth finally discovered Gondolin through the treachery of Maeglin, and it was sacked in F.A. 510. Turgon was lost in the Fall of the city, but some few escaped the destruction and dwelt as Exiles at the Mouths of Sirion.


[edit] History

[edit] Building

Turgon and Finrod on the bank of Sirion by Mysilvergreen

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.[1] The valley had been emptied time ago through the Dry River, creating the only entry to the valley, the secret path of Orfalch Echor.[2]

On F.A. 50,[3] Turgon abandoned Nevrast and went with his cousin Finrod; both travelled together southward Beleriand. While resting in the Meres of Twilight, Ulmo went to them and laid upon them a deep sleep and disturbing dreams. None told the other about his dreams, but both cousins began the search of hidden places in case Morgoth broke the Siege of Angband. Soon, Finrod found the place where he will build his realm: Nargothrond; but Turgon did not, so he came back to Nevrast. Three years later,[4] the Lord of the Waters appeared to Turgon upon the shores and commanded him to travel forth alone. Guided by the favour of the Vala, Turgon found the valley of Tumladen and decided to found his city upon Amon Gwareth, as a memorial to the yearned Tirion upon Túna. However, he came back to Nevrast and only shared his secret in reunions where he planned the building.[5]

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. Before leaving Vinyamar, Ulmo appeared Turgon once more and told him:

Now thou shalt go at last to Gondolin, Turgon; and I will maintain my power in the Vale of Sirion, and in all the waters therein, so that none shall mark thy going, nor shall any find there the hidden entrance against thy will. Longest of all the realms of the Eldalië shall Gondolin stand against Melkor.
Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Noldor in Beleriand"

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.[1]

[edit] Coming of Maeglin

There followed the two centuries of the Long Peace: Morgoth was besieged in the far north of the world, and the people of Gondolin lived undisturbed by the events outside their valley. 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. Turgon welcomed Maeglin, who accepted him as lord, as he became enamoured of the city. But Eöl had followed his wife and son to Gondolin and was captured at the entranceway. After 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 thrown off 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.[6]

[edit] Two Great Battles

Húrin and Huor are Carried to Gondolin by Alan Lee

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 league of the Noldor: the Dagor Bragollach began. 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, as Turgon would know later.[7]

In those days, Beren and Lúthien were saved by the Eagles, and flying south, Lúthien could see far below, as a white light starting from a green jewel, the radiance of Gondolin the fair. But Lúthien wept because her beloved was mortally wounded.[8]

But it is said in song that her tears falling from on high as she passed came like silver raindrops on the plain, and there a fountain sprang to life: the Fountain of Tinúviel, Eithel Nínui, most healing water until it withered in the flame.[9]

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.[10]

[edit] Encirclement

The Fall of Gondolin by John Howe

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. The unbidden coming of Maeglin precipitated the destruction of the great city.

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 rescue 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 was guided to the Hidden City by Voronwë, one of those mariners sent by Turgon to the West, who had survived a shipwreck. Ulmo's advice was that Turgon must abandon the city and seek the sea. For though hitherto the Valar had barred Turgon's messengers from reaching the Undying Lands, Ulmo foresaw that a direct descendant of the lords of the Noldor might be allowed to pass to the lands of the West. Turgon, because of his pride and the love of his city, decided to ignore this warning. Tuor, however, was welcomed in the city by all save Maeglin. Unwittingly, Turgon, who had always been so careful about strangers, further advanced the events that would lead to the fall of Gondolin by allowing Tuor to stay. 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.[11]

[edit] Fall

Main article: Fall of Gondolin
Flight of the Doomed by Ted Nasmith

While searching for ore and straying (against the commands of Turgon) too far from the city, Maeglin was 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.

Maeglin returned to Gondolin and kept his capture by Morgoth a secret. Idril, however, who had noticed and rejected 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, a tunnel that cut through the rock of the hill and out under Tumladen was constructed.

At last Morgoth finalized his plan, and he loosed his massive army upon the 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), Turgon decided to stay and fight.

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 he saw that 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 Sirion, where they mourned the loss of the White City.[11]

[edit] Etymology

Gondolin means "hidden rock" in Sindarin, from gond ("rock") and dolen ("hidden").

Gondolind is perhaps a Mithrimin name[12] and means 'stone of music'. In proper Sindarin it was named Gonnólen which means "hidden rock". In Quenya it was named Ondolinde.

In Eriol's Old English translations, Gondolin is referred as Stangaldor(burg) ("stone-enchantment-city"), Folgenburg ("hidden city"), Galdorfaesten ("enchantment-fortress").[13]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

The first tale of the Legendarium written by Tolkien was "The Fall of Gondolin" of The Book of Lost Tales. No other version would tell with such detail the description of Gondolin, its lords and its fall.

[edit] Description

A map of Gondolin based on Karen Wynn Fonstad's The Atlas of Middle-earth
...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, p. 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, p. 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 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 Gondothlim named Glingol and Bansil...
—Fall of Gondolin, p. 160

[edit] The Seven Names

In later versions of the Legendarium, Gondolin is still known as the City of Seven Names,[14] but only in the Lost Tales phase these names are given. "City of Seven Names" in Gnomish was Ostrin An Ost, and in Qenya Tirios Otsoyáma.[15] When Tuor sees the city for first time, he asks about these names and a guard recites him:

Tis said and 'tis sung: 'Gondobar am I called and Gondothlimbar, City of Stone and City of the Dwellers in Stone; Gondolin the Stone of Song and Gwarestrin am I named, the Tower of Guard, Gar Thurion or the Secret Place, for I am hidden from the eyes of Melko; but they who love me most greatly call me Loth, for like a flower am I, even Lothengriol the flower that blooms on the plain.'[16]

The Qenya cognates for each name were:[15]

  • Gondobar ("Stone House"): Ondomard- or Ondosta.
  • Gondothlimbar ("House of the Stone Folk"): Ondostamard-.
  • Gwarestrin ("Tower of Guard"): Tiri(o)stirion or Vara-, Vorastirin.
  • Gar Thurion ("Secret Place"): Ardalomba or Ardaurin.
  • Loth ("Flower"): Lossë ("Rose").
  • Lothengriol[note 1] ("Flower of the Vale" or "Lily of the Valley"): Endillos.

[edit] See also


  1. Earlier forms of the name Lothengriol were Losengriol and Lósengriol. Cf. The Book of Lost Tales Part One, p. 172; and The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, p. 202


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Noldor in Beleriand"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", pp. 44-46
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §74
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §76
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Maeglin"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", p. 301
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson) p. 133
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "III. The Quenta: Appendix 1: Fragments of a translation of The Quenta Noldorinwa into Old English, made by Ælfwine or Eriol; together with Old English equivalents of Elvish names"
  14. , note 31
  15. 15.0 15.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Alphabet of Rúmil & Early Noldorin Fragments", in Parma Eldalamberon XIII (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, and Bill Welden), p. 102
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin", p. 158