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John Howe - The Dark Tower 01.jpg
General Information
Other namesLugburz, The Dark Tower
LocationNorthwestern Mordor
DescriptionGargantuan tower that hosted the Eye of Sauron
People and History
InhabitantsSauron, Nazgûl, Orcs
EventsSiege of Barad-dur, Downfall of Barad-dûr
GalleryImages of Barad-dûr
"...wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant... Barad-dûr, fortress of Sauron."
― Vision of Frodo Baggins[1]

Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, was the chief fortress of Sauron, on the Plateau of Gorgoroth in Mordor. Known in Black Speech as Lugbúrz, the Eye of Sauron kept watch over Middle-earth from its highest tower.



Barad-Dûr was built upon the end of a long southern spur of the Ered Lithui in the northern part of the Plateau of Gorgoroth. It stood about 30 miles east of Mount Doom and about 100 miles southeast of the Black Gate. There was both a road leading north to the Black Gate and Sauron's road to the Sammath Naur leading west to Mount Doom.[2] Latter ran from the Dark Tower's western gate over a deep abyss, the plain and around the mountain to the dark entrance of the Chambers of Fire.

Barad-Dûr was the greatest fortress ever built since the Fall of Angband. It was founded upon a mighty iron mountain throne above immeasurable pits and appeared even blacker and darker than the mantling clouds and shades in which it stood. It was immeasurably strong with its countless gargantuan towers, walls and battlements and was made of very hard and unbreakable substances.[1] Usually it was described as made of steel, iron or adamant. It had gaping gates, great courts and dungeons with deep and terrible prisons.[2] Its topmost tower had cruel pinnacles and an iron crown from which in immeasurable height the piercing and never sleeping eye of Sauron stared out.


First Building

Sauron began to build Barad-dûr in around S.A. 1000, choosing Mordor as a land to make into a stronghold.[3] Around S.A. 1600 he secretly forged the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom and completed his fortress after 600 years of the construction with the power of the Ring.

During the following years Sauron was able to consolidate his power and extend it into the east.[4] However, in S.A. 3262, Ar-Pharazôn, king of Númenor, landed at the Haven of Umbar with a great host and marched north to Mordor. Their splendor and might was so great that Sauron humbled himself before the king and came to Númenor as a hostage.

The year after the Downfall of Númenor in S.A. 3319 Sauron's spirit secretly returned to Barad-dûr.[3] There he worked a terrible shape for himself, took up again the One Ring and prepared for war against the Eldar and the Exiles of Númenor who had established their realms in Arnor and Gondor.[4] He succeeded in taking Minas Ithil but in S.A. 3430[3] Elendil and Gil-galad forged the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and defeated Sauron four years later in the Battle of Dagorlad.[4] Then they passed into Mordor and besieged Barad-dûr. The siege lasted for seven years, Gil-galad and Elendil were slain and in S.A. 3441[3] Sauron was finally defeated.[4] Isildur son of Elendil cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand and took it for his own instead of destroying it. The Dark Tower was finally leveled but its foundations remained since Barad-dûr was created using the power of the One Ring and couldn't be destroyed as long as that existed.


Around T.A. 1050 Sauron returned and secretly made a stronghold at Dol Guldur.[3] Gandalf did not discover that Sauron was the master of Dol Guldur until T.A. 2850, and in T.A. 2941 the White Council attacked the fortress. Sauron retreated to Barad-dûr which the Nazgûl had prepared for him and began to rebuild it in T.A. 2951. From then on Sauron stayed in Barad-dûr and conducted his war on the free people of Middle-Earth from there.

On March 25, T.A. 3019 the ring-bearer Frodo Baggins succeeded in destroying the One Ring, although it was the creature Gollum who actually held the ring as it fell into the Cracks of Doom. With the Ring destroyed Barad-dûr ultimately collapsed to ruin and Sauron was finally defeated.

"A brief vision he had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled."
― Vision of Samwise Gamgee from the downfall of Barad-Dûr[2]


Barad-Dûr translates from Sindarin as "Dark Tower". barad means "tower" and dûr means "dark".[5]

Lugbúrz was the name of Barad-dûr in the Black Speech, composed of of the Black Speech words lûg ("fortress, lock-up, prison") and búrz ("dark").[6][7]

Portrayal in adaptations

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

Barad-dûr is portrayed as a simple fortress. During a ring-induced dream, Sam dreams of taking the Ring and storming the Tower, but his common sense gains the upper hand in time.[8]

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

Barad-dûr is one of the first sites visited. After the Witch-king captures Gollum snooping on the edge of Mordor, the Mouth of Sauron questions the creature in the Dark Tower.[9]

2001-3: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

In the Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and his design team built a 9 foot high miniature ("big-ature") of Barad-dûr for use in the film. Using the size scale for the model implemented for the films, the Dark Tower is depicted as being over 1500 meters (5,000 feet) tall.
The Return of the King also shows Barad-dûr as clearly visible from the Black Gate of Mordor. Even granting its enormous size, it was located one hundred miles away and to the east of the Gate, and behind the inner mountain ridges of Udûn so Aragorn's army would probably not have been able to see it. In the film version, the geography of Mordor seems generally to have been compressed somewhat, perhaps for artistic reasons related to rendering such complex stories in a visual medium. In the case of the Black Gate scene, having Barad-dûr visible from the Gate means that the army can see the Eye of Sauron staring at them.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

The Tower is briefly visible in the opening scene. Galadriel narrates a vision from her Mirror. It is only referred to a "The Dark Tower of Mordor", and it is the base of the Ringwraiths (as opposed to Minas Morgul). The Eye of Sauron is portrayed as a fiery eye at the top, but only visible for a split second.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

Barad-dûr is shown in the introduction scene, looking similar to its movie design. It does not play a role in any of the campaigns, and does not appear on any of the maps.

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Like in its predecessor, the tower of Barad-dûr plays no active role in this game. In the "War of the Ring" mode, it can be seen in the territory of Mordor, but it is absent on the map itself.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Mount Doom"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Uruk-hai"
  7. 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. 79
  8. The Return of the King (1980 film), "Samwise the Strong"
  9. The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series), "The Shadow of the Past"