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Alan Lee - Gondolin.jpg
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 (North Sindarin), Quenya
Preceded byNevrast
ConstructedF.A. 116
DestructionF.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 the Exile of the Noldor, Turgon was guided by Ulmo to the hidden valley of Tumladen, and there he founded Gondolin. Turgon's people, who had dwelt in Nevrast, travelled there secretly, becoming the Gondolindrim.

The city remained hidden for almost four hundred years, being the last Elven realm to endure against Morgoth, but it was finally discovered through the treachery of Maeglin and besieged. Turgon was lost in the Fall of the city, but some few escaped the destruction and dwelt as Exiles at the Mouths of Sirion.




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 to 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 a search for hidden places in case Morgoth broke the Siege of Angband. Soon, Finrod found the place where he would 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]

After the Dagor Aglareb, on F.A. 64,[6] Turgon felt unquiet again, and taking the most skilled of his people, he went in secret to the hidden vale and the first building of the city was begun. A watch was set around, but the power of Ulmo also protected them. During the next fifty two years, Turgon dwelt mostly in Nevrast, until the city was completed. Then he gave his city the name Ondolindë in Quenya, the "Rock of the Music of Water", because of the fountains of Amon Gwareth, but in Sindarin this was rendered Gondolin, the "Hidden Rock".[1] On F.A. 116,[7] before leaving Vinyamar, Ulmo appeared to 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. [...] Thus it may come to pass that the curse of the Noldor shall find thee too ere the end, and treason awake within thy walls. Then they shall be in peril of fire. But if this peril draweth nigh indeed, then even from Nevrast one shall come to warn thee...

The people of Turgon were a third part of Fingolfin's followers and native Sindar of Nevrast, and they traveled from Nevrast and secretly entered the valley of Tumladen in discreet companies. After their arrival in the new city, the Gondolindrim continued always 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]

Coming of Maeglin

Half Noldo by Sara M. Morello

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. However, a seed of discontent appeared: in F.A. 316,[8] Turgon's sister Aredhel became tired of her limited life in the valley and was determined to leave the city, much against Turgon's wishes, and journey into Beleriand. However, she was lost outside and Gondolin falled in sorrow for many years.[9]

More than eighty years later, in F.A. 400,[10] suddenly Aredhel returned with Maeglin, her son by Eöl the Dark Elf. Maeglin was enamoured of the city and Turgon welcomed him. But Eöl had followed his wife and son to Gondolin and was captured at the entranceway. After he was brought before Turgon, he was explained that the law of Gondolin did not allow any visitor to leave. 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 lords of the Gondolindhrim. "Thus it was in Gondolin; and amid all the bliss of that realm, while its glory lasted, a dark seed of evil was sown".[9]

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 remained in peace. When Morgoth broke the Siege of Angband in the Dagor Bragollach, the people of Gondolin played no immediate part in this disaster.

In F.A. 458,[11] 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's city. At the bidding of Ulmo, Turgon accepted them, and they remained in Gondolin for almost a year. Despite the law of Gondolin did not allow any visitor to leave, Turgon made an exception and allowed them to return to their homes. Both brothers kept the promise of not telling anyone where they had been, but other Men could deduce it, and soon a rumour was spread that reached Morgoth's servants.[12]

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.[12]

Some years later, 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.[13]

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.[14]

As the Elves of Beleriand began to arm for a counterstroke to the Dagor Bragollach, Turgon secretly began his own preparations. In F.A. 472,[15] the Union of Maedhros attacked Angband, and Turgon rode for the first time to war. Unknown and unbidden by his kin, he opened the leaguer of Gondolin and rode to their aid with an army of ten thousand. This was to be the disastrous battle that was to become known as the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.[16]


The army of the Gondolindrim could escape from the Fifth Battle thanks to the men of the House of Hador. The only survivor there was Húrin, who was captured. Morgoth had great fear of Turgon, who was now High King of the Noldor, and wished to destroy him more than any other enemy.[16] Therefore, the Dark Lord tortured Húrin and offered freedom, but could not make him reveal the location of Gondolin.[17]

Tuor reaches the Hidden City of Gondolin by Ted Nasmith

After returning from the Nirnaeth, Maeglin built the Gate of Steel, the last of the Seven Gates of Gondolin.[18]

The first great blow to the security of Gondolin came by accident. Húrin, who had been held captive by Morgoth, was released to wander in the world. 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.[19]

After Nargothrond and Doriath fell, Gondolin became the last great stronghold of the Elves of Beleriand.[19]

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.[20]


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.[20]


Ages later, some legendary weapons of Gondolin were found by Thorin and Company on a Trolls' Cave. Elrond recognized them and explained they ended there after being plundered by dragons or goblins.[21] Even in the Third Age, some orcs of the Misty Mountains knew of the legendary sword of Turgon, remembering how the Elves of Gondolin killed hundred of goblins before their walls.[22]

The realm will be mentioned by Elrond during his Council[23] and by Galadriel,[24] and also remembered in Dwarven lore.[25]


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

Gondolind is perhaps a Mithrimin name[26] 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").[27]

Other versions of the legendarium

The Book of Lost Tales


Gondolin in ruins by Matěj Čadil

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

Before Turgon was even born, the prophet Amnon prophesied the fall of Gondolin and the fade of Turgon.[28] Turgon was born soon after the Flight of the Noldoli and later he participated in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. He could run out of the battle, and save the women and children of the camps. Then he fled south along Sirion, and aided by its magic waters, he escaped into a secret place away from Melko. There the Noldoli built the secret city of Gondolin and Turgon became their king.[29] The people of Gondolin became known as Gondothlim, the dwellers in stone.[30]:155 They travailed for many years building Gondolin, and there was made a secret entry among the mountains, the Way of Escape, that was kept open and guarded for the Noldoli enthralled by Melko. When the city was finished, the folk became busy making weapons, armors and arrows in case they were attacked. All the encircling mountains had a constant guard, but this was not necessary, as the plain of Tumladin was smooth and everything could be seen from Amon Gwareth.[30]:163

While Melko expanded his armies through the Great Lands, the Noldoli only could find refuge in the realms of Artanor and Gondolin.[31] However, when Tuor wandered looking for the City of Stone, it was known to Melko, who increased his watchfulness. Tuor was helped by the Gnome Voronwë, who found the secret entry, covered with enchantments that hid it to anyone who had no Gnomish blood.[30]:156-157 Once in Gondolin, Tuor was led to king Turgon and he gave him Ulmo's warning: that the Gondothlim had to march to war against Melko or leave the city and dwell beside the sea. Turgon refused both, but invited Tuor to live in his city, and Tuor accepted, as it was a fair place.[30]:161-162

Now Melko, wondering about the Man that had wandered alone, summoned a vast army of dark spies and sent them to look after the Noldoli that escaped years ago. They found the Way of Escape and could see the city in the distance, but the guard was strong and never approached there. Turgon was informed of this and felt unrested, so the guard was increased and preparations for war were made.[30]:165-167

In those days, Meglin, Turgon's nephew, was captured by Orcs while straying in the mountains alone. Before they knew that he was one of the Gondothlim, he offered knowledge about Gondolin in exchange for his life. Thus he was brought to Melko, and both devised a plan to conquer the city. Meglin gave Melko the description of Gondolin and the idea of building Iron Dragons that could cross the Encircling Mountains and the city walls. Then Meglin returned and Melko began building his war devices and gathering evil armies during seven years. Noticing that Melko's spies withdrew, the Gondothlim felt fearless and thought that Melko had desisted after seeing Gondolin's might.[30]:168-170


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

The Seven Names

In later versions of the Legendarium, Gondolin is still known as the City of Seven Names,[32] but only in the Lost Tales phase these names are given. "City of Seven Names" was Ostrin An Ost in Gnomish, and Tirios Otsoyáma in Qenya.[33] 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.'[30]:158

The Qenya cognate for Gondolin was Ondolinda.[34] The cognates for the other names were:[33]

  • 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.

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 1.2 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 War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §89
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §112
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §118
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Maeglin"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §120
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §161
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beren and Lúthien"
  14. 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
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §217
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "The Words of Húrin and Morgoth"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", p. 49
  19. 19.0 19.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
  20. 20.0 20.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond", "...Eärendil was my sire, who was born in Gondolin before its fall..."
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Mirror of Galadriel", "...for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains..."
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark", "Song of Durin"
  26. 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
  27. 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"
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "VII. The Flight of the Noldoli", pp. 167, 172
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "X. Gilfanon's Tale: The Travail of the Noldoli and the Coming of Mankind", pp. 238-242
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 30.5 30.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"
  31. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "II. Turambar and the Foalókë", p. 77
  32. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", "Notes", note 31
  33. 33.0 33.1 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
  34. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part I, entry "Gondolin"