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"Barad-dûr" by J.R.R. Tolkien
General Information
Other namesLugburz (BS)
Taras Lúna, Lúnaturco (Q)
The Dark Tower
LocationNorth-western Mordor, on the Plateau of Gorgoroth
DescriptionGargantuan tower
People and History
InhabitantsSauron, Nazgûl, Orcs
Createdc. S.A. 1000
DestroyedT.A. 3019
RebuiltT.A. 2942-2953
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.

Barad-dûr, also known as 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.[1] The 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.[2] Usually it was described as made of steel, iron or adamant. It had gaping gates, great courts and dungeons with deep and terrible prisons.[1] The topmost tower contained the Window of the Eye.[3]


First Building

Sauron began to build Barad-dûr in around S.A. 1000, choosing Mordor as a land to make into a stronghold.[4] 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.[5] 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 splendour 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.[4] 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.[5] He succeeded in taking Minas Ithil, but in S.A. 3430[4] Elendil and Gil-galad forged the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and defeated Sauron four years later in the Battle of Dagorlad.[5] 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[4] Sauron was finally defeated.[5] 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[4] since Barad-dûr was created using the power of the One Ring and could not be destroyed as long as that existed.


The Dark Tower by John Howe

Around T.A. 1050 Sauron returned and secretly made a stronghold at Dol Guldur. 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, forcing Sauron to retreat to Barad-dûr, which the Nazgûl had prepared for him, and began to rebuild it in T.A. 2951.[4] It was completed in T.A. 2953,[4] and 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.


Barad-dûr is a Sindarin name. It means "Dark Tower".[6] It is a compound of Barad (a great towering buidling, (fort, city, castle) tower)[7] and dûr ("dark" (with evil implications"))[8].

Lugbúrz was the name of Barad-dûr in the Black Speech, composed of the Black Speech words lûg ("fortress, lock-up, prison") and búrz ("dark").[9][10]

The Quenya versions of Barad-dûr are Taras Lúna ("Dark Tower") and Lúnaturco ("Dark Stronghold").[7] They are never used within the narration.

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.[11]

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.[12]

2001-03: 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 as "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 is 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. It's design is similar to that of the tower in the movies. 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 is absent on the map itself.

See also