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Cirith Ungol

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Cirith Ungol
Cirith Ungol as depicted in Peter Jackson's trilogy
Place in Arda
Aliases Morgul Pass, Pass of the Spider, Spider's Cleft
Summary Dark Fortess of Mordor, former fortress of Gondor
Built by Men of Gondor
Realm Ephel Duath
Lord Men of Gondor (formerly)

Morgul Orcs

Nazgul (very briefly)

Type Fortress-stronghold-pass
Lifespan Unknown

"Its name was Cirith Ungol, a name of dreadful rumour."
The Two Towers, The Black Gate is Closed

Cirith Ungol was a pass or cleft through the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow) near Minas Morgul. Shelob's lair was located there.


Under GondorEdit

Cirith Ungol passed through the western mountains of Mordor and paralleled the Morgul-road into Gondor to some degree. It was guarded by the Tower of Cirith Ungol, which was built by the Men of Gondor after the War of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men was fought. It is not known whether the pass and the tower were called Cirith Ungol when the Men of Gondor held it, though it is likely since Shelob "...was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr" was laid, and Cirith Ungol meant 'Spider's Cleft' in Sindarin.

The pass was reached by several sets of steep stairs leading from close by Minas Morgul along the north cliff-face of Morgul Vale and through a tunnel high in the mountains, with other steep stretches that lacked stairs. Eventually, the path ran straight into Shelob's lair, though many side-tunnels had been carved by Orcs and Men to get past her webs.

Under SauronEdit

Gondor occupied the tower guarding the pass until TA 1636 when the Great Plague killed much of Gondor's population. After the Plague, Gondor again occupied Cirith Ungol but they were eventually distracted by the Wainriders, and evil was allowed to return to Mordor. The tower was likely occupied by evil forces before Minas Ithil was besieged in TA 2000.

During the Quest of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee were led to this pass by Gollum to the lair of the ancient spider Shelob. At this time, there were also three-headed creatures (statues?) that "watched" the entrance into Mordor and which could not be passed by mortals. Only through use of the Phial of Galadriel could the ring-bearer and his servant break these entities' will and enter Mordor.


The term Cirith Ungol is Sindarin for "Spider's cleft", from cirith ("cleft, pass") and ungol ("spider").

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

Video GamesEdit

  • In Return of the King video game, you may play as Sam who has to kill 80 orcs and then may progress to the tower where you fight Gorbag and rescue Frodo.

See alsoEdit

  • Nan Ungol, far south of Cirith Ungol in a corner of Mordor


External linkEdit

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