Minas Tirith

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This article is about the city in the Third Age. For the First Age tower of the same name, see Minas Tirith (First Age).
Place from Tolkien's Legendarium
Image:MINAS TIRITH location map in middle earth.PNG
location map<tr><th>Name</th><td>Minas Tirith (Tower of Guard)</td></tr><tr><th>Other names</th><td>Minas Anor (Tower of the Setting Sun)
White City
City of Kings</td></tr><tr><th>Description</th><td>Seat of the Kings of Gondor and later their Stewards</td></tr><tr><th>Constructed by</th><td>Anárion</td></tr><tr><th>Realm(s)</th><td>Gondor
 Anórien</td></tr><tr><th>Lord</th><td>Kings and Stewards of Gondor</td></tr><tr><th>Type</th><td>Fortified City</td></tr><tr><th>Lifespan</th><td>Built S.A. 3320</td></tr>

Minas Tirith (IPA: ['minæs 'tɪɹiθ]) is a fictional fortified city in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings, which was the capital of Gondor in the second half of the Third Age. It is often referred to as the White City and the City of Kings. The Rohirrim sometimes translated this into their own language as Mundburg.


[edit] Description

Minas Tirith was built on a hill right against the face of Mount Mindolluin, facing east towards the Pelennor Fields and Osgiliath.

The city was divided into seven levels, each 100 feet high and surrounded by a white wall. There was an eighth wall, the lowest, which was made of unbreakable black stone, the same material used in Orthanc.

In each wall there was a gate which connected the levels. A spur of rock, the summit of which was level with the city's uppermost tier, jutted out from the hill in an easterly direction, dividing all but the first level into two. Finally, within the seventh wall, was the Citadel with its White Tower of Ecthelion, where the Seeing Stone of Minas Anor was kept — three hundred feet high, so that its top was one thousand feet above the plain. On the saddle between the city and Mindolluin was Rath Dínen (The Silent Street), where the ornate tombs of the Kings of Gondor and their Stewards were built.

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.

[edit] History

[edit] Early History

Originally known as Minas Anor (the "Tower of the [Setting] Sun"), Minas Tirith was built in S.A. 3320 by Anárion, brother of Isildur and second son of Elendil, High King of Arnor. Ostoher rebuilt the city in T.A. 420, and it became the capital of Gondor after the siege and abandonment of Osgiliath. King Tarondor finally moved the King's House from Osgiliath to the City in T.A. 1640.

In 2002, the White City's companion city, Minas Ithil (Tower of the Moon), on the borders of Mordor, was captured by the Nazgûl and renamed Minas Morgul (Tower of Dark Sorcery). Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith, meaning "Tower of Guard", to indicate that since the fall of Minas Ithil, Minas Tirith assumed the role of guarding Gondor against Mordor's forces. For the next thousand years, the two cities were in a stalemate, neither able to topple the other. With the rebuilding of the Dark Tower and the open return of Sauron, the forces of Mordor gathered their strength to topple Minas Tirith in the upcoming War of the Ring.

[edit] The War of the Ring

During the War of the Ring (T.A. 3018–3019), Minas Tirith is said to have had less than half of the population which could have dwelt there at ease.

[edit] Rammas Echor

In the latter part of the Third Age, Minas Tirith and its lands were surrounded by the Rammas Echor, a fortified wall encircling the Pelennor Fields and meeting up with Osgiliath, where the Causeway Forts were built on the west bank of the Anduin and garrisoned, though Osgiliath itself remained in ruins. This outwall was built by Ecthelion II but fell into disrepair after his death, only to be repaired in the year leading up to the War.

His successor Denethor II ordered Osgiliath and the Rammas to be defended, despite the objections of his son Faramir and the other commanders who wanted to retreat back to Minas Tirith and hold out from there. As told in The Return of the King, the Rammas proved an ineffective defence due to the overwhelming Orc legions of Mordor, who penetrated the wall and laid siege to the city before the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

[edit] Besieged

Faramir was unable to hold Osgiliath and the Causeway Forts against the overwhelming forces of Mordor and was driven back with heavy loss. Leading the rearguard against the onslaught, he was wounded and nearly slain but the cavalry charge of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth and Gandalf saved him and the counter-attack allowed the rest of Gondor's soldiers to reach the safety of the city.

Minas Tirith was besieged by troops of Mordor, the Easterlings and the Haradrim, and the land fell under the Great Darkness generated by Mordor. Significant damage was done to the first circle of the city but the Enemy was unable to break through the wall - except in one place. The gate of the city was broken by a combination of the battering ram Grond and the Witch-King's sorcery. However, the Witch-king was halted at the entrance by Gandalf.

The timely arrival of the Rohirrim led by King Théoden forced the armies of Mordor face the newcomers instead of assaulting the city. The resulting Battle of the Pelennor Fields took place on March 15, 3019 in the fields surrounding the city. Despite heavy losses, Minas Tirith itself was not seriously threatened again and the battle was won by Gondor and its allies from Rohan.

[edit] Aftermath

On May 1, 3019 King Elessar's coronation took place on the plain outside Minas Tirith, he then entered the city as King.

Minas Tirith is known to have stood firm well into the Fourth Age. Gimli the Dwarf and some of Durin's folk used Mithril to replace the gates that had been broken in the War of the Ring. It remained the chief city of Gondor, as it is not known whether Osgiliath and Minas Ithil were rebuilt.

The eagle who brings the news of Sauron's defeat to Minas Tirith refers to the city as the Tower of Anor. The eagle might have been speaking poetically, but as Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age in The Silmarillion says, the city is referred to Minas Anor again after Sauron's overthrow. However, in the abandoned sequel The New Shadow, which takes place during the time of Elessar's son Eldarion, the city was named Minas Tirith.

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

Image:Roturn King-Minas Tirith.jpg
Gandalf approaching Minas Tirith in the film The Return of the King by Peter Jackson

Tolkien's description of the physical layout of Minas Tirith is followed relatively faithfully in Peter Jackson's film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Jackson interpreting the top of the rock as flattened and paved. In the films Minas Tirith is the location for the coronation of Aragorn.

Portions of Minas Tirith were constructed as a full-scale sets, and the whole city as a very large, highly detailed miniature or "bigature" by Weta Workshop. A remarkably detailed three-dimensional digital model, for CGI shots, along with the whole of its surrounding environment including the Pelennor Fields and Mindolluin (but not the Rammas Echor, which was visually omitted from the films, despite being mentioned in the dialogue, where Théoden gave the order to the Rohirrim beginning "When we get through the Wall..." quoted directly form the book.) was created by Weta Digital.

The height of Minas Tirith in the films could be estimated to be almost 1,700 feet. In the non-canon New Line book The Lord of the Rings Weapons and Warfare, the seventh level is identified as a quarter of a mile high, 1,320 feet above the plain, and the Tower of Ecthelion was over 300 feet tall.

These numbers nonwithstanding, The Atlas of Middle-earth actually projects Minas Tirith to be much, much larger than what was shown in the film. Fonstad estimates a diameter of 3100 feet for the First Circle of the City alone; the cinematic Minas Tirith appears as large as a castle-town.

In the novel, the outer walls of Minas Tirith are virtually indestructible like the similar black surface of the Orthanc, as they were built by the Dúnedain before their craft waned in exile, and it was said that only an earthquake or similar seismic convulsion could cause significant damage, so the Enemy did not waste shot upon it. In the Jackson films, the outer walls took a significant beating due to Mordor's catapults and siege towers.

In the films, the towers of Minas Tirith are equipped with trebuchets. However, they were not mentioned in the novels.

[edit] Trivia

  • Minas Tirith also sounds similar to Manas Tirth, a Hindu holy place named for Manasarovar (Manas+sarovar, where sarovar=Lake) in the Himalayas. Manasarovar is located in Tibet and requires Chinese permit for visits.
  • Curiously minas is the spanish word for mines.

[edit] External links

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Minas Tirith

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