Osgiliath in ruins
|Place in Arda|
|Summary||Capital of Gondor (formally)|
|Lord||Kings of Gondor|
Osgiliath was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Gondor. Depopulated during the Third Age, it gradually fell into ruin. During the War of the Ring, the abandoned city gained strategic importance as a crossing point over the Anduin.
Rise and DeclineEditThe city was founded by Isildur and Anárion near the end of the Second Age. Ruling Gondor jointly, they used Osgiliath as their capital. It was defended by two smaller fortress cities, Minas Ithil (where Isildur lived) and Minas Anor (where Anárion lived). Osgiliath soon became a large and flourishing city.
At the heart of Osgiliath was a great stone bridge over the river. On the bridge was a tower containing the famous Dome of Stars, which housed the city's Palantír. Another important building (or possibly the same one) was the Great Hall, which initially served as a throne room for Isildur and Anárion.
For over a thousand years, Osgiliath remained the greatest city in Gondor, though from the 5th century of the Third Age, the kings, beginning with Ostoher, used Minas Anor as a summer residence.Osgiliath was hit hard by the catastrophic civil war of the Kin-strife. In TA 1437, the city, then held by Eldacar, was besieged by Castamir's forces. During the fighting, fire broke out, and large parts of the city were destroyed, including the Dome of Stars. The Palantír housed in the Dome was lost in the river.
The decline of the city was greatly accelerated by the Great Plague of TA 1636. Many of its people died from the disease, while others fled to remote parts of the country, few of whom returned. Severely depopulated, Osgiliath began to fall into ruin. In 1640, Tarondor, whose predecessor Telemnar had died from the plague, moved the capital permanently to Minas Anor.
In TA 2000, Minas Ithil was besieged by the Nazgûl, who captured it two years later. Osgiliath, by this time mostly ruined and deserted, became a no man's land between its two former fortresses, now called Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith and at war with each other, and was haunted by ghosts.
The final blow came in TA 2475, when Uruks of Mordor overran Ithilien and captured Osgiliath. Though they were thrown back by Boromir, son of the then-Steward Denethor I, Osgiliath was finally ruined and abandoned, and its great bridge was broken.
During the War of the RingEditIn TA 3019, Beregond recounted to Pippin how Gondor recaptured East Osgiliath a few decades before the War of the Ring, for use as a military outpost and to secure a crossing of the Anduin. In June 3018, however, a detachment of Sauron's forces, led by a Nazgûl, again took the east bank, and the defenders, led by Boromir and Faramir, were forced to retreat, destroying the bridge they had built.
Osgiliath was one of the few places between Rauros and the sea where large armies could cross the Anduin without needing many boats. Thus, a key part of Gondor's defensive strategy after the loss of East Osgiliath was to hold West Osgiliath and oppose any attempt at crossing the river. It was while he was on guard in West Osgiliath in February 3019 that Faramir saw Boromir's funeral boat. But when the Witch-king and his armies attacked Gondor in March 3019, it was revealed that Sauron's forces had secretly built many floats and barges in East Osgiliath. Though they met with determined opposition from Faramir and the Osgiliath garrison, they were able to cross with fewer casualties than the defenders had hoped, and Faramir ordered a general retreat to the Rammas Echor. When he led the bulk of his army to besiege Minas Tirith, the Witch-king left some reserves in Osgiliath. Gothmog later deployed these forces against Gondor and their allies in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Fourth Age and BeyondEdit
After Sauron was defeated and the Fourth Age began, Aragorn II Elessar, the new King of Gondor, may have rebuilt the city, but he kept Minas Tirith as his capital. (He rebuilt the ruined northern city of Annúminas as a summer capital; see: the Reunited Kingdom.)
Osgiliath is a Sindarin word that means Citadel of the Host of Stars.
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