- This page concerns the capital city of Gondor. For a list of other occurrences of "Minas Tirith,"
see Minas Tirith (disambiguation).
Minas Tirith [Sindarin; minas (tower) + tirith (watch)] (IPA: tiriθ) was the capital of Gondor in the Third Age and the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. Originally known as Minas Anor, the "Tower of the Setting Sun", it replaced the city Osgiliath as the new capital and stockade of Gondor.
When the Enemy began to take shape again, Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith, the "Tower of Guard." The city was also called The White City, as the courtyard in the front of the city's Citadel contained the White Tree, and was also known as the City of Kings because of its connection with the kings and stewards of Gondor (who ruled the kingdom of Gondor from the Citadel of the city). Many important events took place in and in front of the city, such as the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the healing of Meriadoc Brandybuck and Éowyn by Aragorn after that battle, and the coronation of Aragorn II Elessar outside the city gates.
- "For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate in the City wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so the paved way that climbed toward the citadel turned this way and that and then that across the face of the hill."
- —The Return of the King
Minas Tirith was surrounded by the Rammas Echor, a large ringwall encircling the city and the Pelennor Fields. This wall was built after Minas Ithil fell and was renamed Minas Morgul. It was repaired by Ecthelion II during the time of the War of the Ring, but it had not the strength to defend the city from the Dark Lord Sauron's legions of orcs from Mordor led by the Witch-king of Angmar. The city itself lay on a hill beneath Mount Mindolluin, which rose above the city's citadel, by a length of a couple of thousand feet. Mount Mindolluin was where Aragorn found the seedling of the White Tree, aided by Gandalf.
The city was divided into seven one-hundred-foot high levels, each surrounded by white walls, except the first walls which had the same kind of black stone as Orthanc as a face. The gates connecting the levels did not lay behind one another in a line, but faced in different directions. A spur of rock, whose summit was level with the city's uppermost tier, jutted out from the front of the city in an easterly direction, dividing all but the first level into two. The spur of rock has been described as being in the shape of the bow of the ship, an obvious reference to how man first colonized the area. Each level was scattered with many alleys, narrow passageways, marketplaces, family shops and stores, and public living buildings, such as apartments and full-fledged houses (which were probably quite rare in the city). On the sixth level were located the Houses of Healing, surrounded by pleasant gardens. Finally, within the seventh wall, was the Citadel of Minas Tirith, with the White Tower of Ecthelion - three hundred feet high, so that its apex was one thousand feet above the plain, the Fountain, the leafless White Tree, and Merethrond. Upon the saddle between the city and Mindolluin were the Houses of the Dead - a tomb for the Kings of Gondor and their Stewards.
The First Level of Minas Tirith was the lowest and largest level of Minas Tirith where was the Main gate.
During the Siege of Minas Tirith, orcs cast fire into the First Level, burning many buildings and causing general havoc. Later on, the Main Gate was breached when Grond was finally used against it and the Men of Gondor and orcs clashed in the streets of the First Circle and then made their way up.
Minas Tirith (as Minas Anor) was built in SA 3320 by Anárion, brother of Isildur, second son of Elendil, and a High King of Arnor. King Ostoher rebuilt the city in TA 420, and, gradually, it became more important than Osgiliath, the original capital, which in later years fell into ruin. King Tarondor finally moved the King's House to the city in TA 1640, thereby making it the official capital of the kingdom of Gondor. In the year TA 2002, the White City's companion tower Minas Ithil (the "Tower of the Moon") on the borders of Mordor was captured by the Ringwraiths and renamed Minas Morgul (the "Tower of Sorcery"). Minas Anor was then renamed Minas Tirith, meaning the "Tower of Guard", to indicate that, since the fall of Minas Ithil, Minas Tirith was the only thing that defended Gondor and all the other lands around and behind it against the horrifying evil from Mordor.
During the War of the Ring (Third Age 3018 - 3019), Minas Tirith is said to "have less than half of the population which could have dwelt at ease" in it. The city was subsequently falling into ruin, and, combined with the growing power of the Dark Lord not too far to the east, resulted in the low population of the city. It appeared to Aragorn a city that had lost its luster, which had resulted in many things once beautiful that now were old and crumbling.In The Return of the King, Minas Tirith was besieged by the armies of Mordor, including cohorts of Easterlings and war bands of the Haradrim, under the Great Darkness generated by Mordor's foul geothermic vents, or by Sauron's power. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields took place on 15 March, 3019 in the fields surrounding the city. It was one of the most horrific battles of the whole War of the Ring. There, on that field, both the king of Rohan, Theoden, and the Witch-king of Angmar were slain. It was also there that King Elessar (Aragorn) arrived at the hour of Minas Tirith's need and therefore saved the city. Despite their heavy losses, the battle was finally won by the forces of good. After the battle, the stench of death was heavy in Minas Tirith's air, and the Pelennor Fields lay strewn with bodies.
On 1 May 3019, the crowning of King Elessar took place on the plain outside Minas Tirith. After his coronation, he entered the city as the King of Gondor, as he was destined to become from the start of his lifetime. With his coronation, King Elessar refounded the line of the Kings of Gondor. His coronation also signaled the passing of the torch of dominion of Middle-earth from the elves to men.
Minas Tirith was repaired by its new king (who grew plants inside of its walls to add to its luster and beauty) and by the Dwarves of Aglarond, who built a new gate for the city (made of mithril and steel) and altogether fixed the layout of the city as well. The city is known to have stood firm and strong well into the Fourth Age because of these two renovations.
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
Minas Tirith appears briefly in Peter Jackson's first movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, where Gandalf learns about the One Ring; as well as his second film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers where it is seen as a glimpse in the distance when the rangers of Gondor hold Frodo and Sam captive. It is a central and major location in Peter Jackson's third movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Tolkien's description of the physical layout of Minas Tirith is largely followed in Peter Jackson's movie. The films Crew built a model of Minas Tirith closely based on Tolkien's description, although there are a few of assumptions made by the director and differences from the book. One of these is the assumption that the top of the courtyard of the White Tree was flattened and paved. Another difference between the movie and the book is that in the book the coronation of Aragorn takes place not in the courtyard atop the city but outside the city, and only after his coronation does Aragorn march into the city as the new King of Gondor. Other differences include that in the book Gandalf must leave his horse outside and almost the entire population of the city was evacuated leaving mostly the soldiers and healers, while in the movie the entire population stays and many are killed in the battle. Also in the book Minas Tirith receives around 2700 troops from Gondor's provinces notably the Swan Knights of Dol Amroth, led by Prince Imrahil; however in the film Peter Jackson did not include (or at least did not show) this force.
Despite the book's describing the first wall as dark in colour (similar to Orthanc), unusually high and almost indestructible, in the movies it is not only white and several times lower than the rest of the walls, it's also heavily damaged because of attacks. The film also shows the old White Tree with blossom at the arrival of Aragorn, though in the book Gandalf and Aragorn discover a new sapling on the slopes of Mount Mindolluin and replant it in the place of the old tree. Also, the thrones of the King and steward were moved from inside the White Tower of Ecthelion to another building, which in Peter Jackson's movies was the central building, whereas the White tower was made into a smaller, slimmer building.
Defensive structures in the movieEdit
The walls of the city were defended by a battery of at least 10 trebuchets in the film, in the book they are referred to simply as 'engines'. These played a significant role in the siege shown in the movie, as they were responsible for destroying and/or killing many Orcs, Trolls, siege towers, and catapults. Sadly, a number of them were smashed to bits by the fell beasts of the Nazgûl, but all were repaired in the end. Gondorian soldiers stood beside the trebuchets on the walls in case the Enemy tried to assail the city using their hideous siege towers, driven by the effort of Trolls. Gondorian archers also waited on top of the walls and gates of the city, firing at any Orc or Troll within their range. Soldiers silently waited behind each wall of the city in case the Enemy broke through one of the walls.
The Great Gate of Minas Tirith in the films was flanked by towers and bastions made from the white (though black in the book) almost indestructible stone (similar to that of Orthanc) which makes up the entire lower level. In addition there is a wall surrounding Pelennor fields called Rammas Echor.
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- Map #40 in Barbara Strachey's Journeys of Frodo is a plan of Minas Tirith. Pages 138 & 139 in Karen Wynn Fonstad's revised The Atlas of Middle-earth is another plan of Minas Tirith. They are at variance with each other, as the only authoritative maps by Tolkien are just sketches.
- The eagle who brings the news of Sauron's defeat to Minas Tirith refers to the city as the Tower of Anor. Although this is nowhere described, it is possible that the city may have reverted to its original name once it no longer needed to guard against evil, although the eagle may not have known/remembered that Minas Anor had been renamed. An argument against this is that in the abandoned sequel The New Shadow, which takes place during the time of Elessar's son Eldarion, the city was clearly named Minas Tirith. However, as the sequel is abandoned, it is non- canon.
- "Mundburg" was the Rohirric name for Minas Tirith.
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