Greatest city in Middle Earth?

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morentar 08/Dec/2006 at 06:16 PM
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Well,i was just wondering about the greatest city in Tolkien’s world and the answer struck me almost immediately,it was Valimar,the City of the Gods,which was closely followed in beauty,power,population and size by Tiron,Alqualonde and Avallone.But what about Middle Earth?Which city do you think was the greatest city in Middle Earth?in power,in size,in beauty and in its population?I can help you with the following:

Menegroth,The City of the Thousand Caves,capital of Doriath in the first age where Elu Thingol dwealt with his Maia wife Melian.Tolkien himself compares Menegroth to Tirion in the West.Destroyed by Maedros and Maglor.

Gondolin,The Hidden City,the city ruled by Turgon which survived most of the first age.Tolkien also compares this city to Tirion,calling it the image of Tirion(or something like).Its power was added to by the sympathy of Ulmo,the lord of the seas.Destroyed only when its location was betrayed to the Enemy by Maeglin.

Nargothrond,one of the cities which the Enemy had a lot of difficulty in conquering.Set up by Finrod Felagund with the aid of the dwarfs(just as Menegroth).Remained unconquered until Glaurung came and burnt the city.

Nogrod and Belegost,the great cities of the dwarfs lining the Ered Luin.Destroyed during the War of Wrath of the Valar against Morgoth.

Moria,The Dwarven Dream,a great dwarven mine-city ruled by Lords of the line of Durin the Deathless,which survived three ages until a Balrog awoke inside and drove the dwarfs away and destroyed the city.

Grey Havens,the great port of the elves.set up in the beginning of second age.initially ruled by Gil-galad,and then by Cirdan the Shipwright.Survied all the ages of ME(except first ofcourse).Was the port whence the elves sailed West to Eressea.

Rivendell,The Elven Refuge.The Last Homely House,founded by Elrond,fleeing from Sauron.Never conquered ever since it was set up.placed in a deep valley which ensured its security.

Annuminas,capital of Arnor,hosted Elendil,but later abandoned .

Fornost,Deadmen’s Dike,the second capital of Arnor destroyed by The Witch King.

Caras Galadhon,The City of the Trees,the silvan capital of Lorien.


Minas Tirith


Minas Morgul

Helm’s Deep

Dol Amroth.

Janskin 08/Dec/2006 at 07:39 PM
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I would have to say that Minas Tirith is the greatest city of Middle-earth. That may just be my Gondorian bias, but just look at it. The city is MASSIVE, and its also one big building. Huge walls, strong gates, the place is a fortress. Also, it is described as a place of beauty, and all the artist’s renderings support that. Being the seat of power of the Kingdom of Gondor, Minas Tirith is the single greatest city in Middle-earth.
DeluhatholSilverleaf 08/Dec/2006 at 11:51 PM
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Gondolin : The HIdden Realm, save for the fact the Hurin was tricked into revealing its location...or was that Maeglin?...Gondolin was very well protected seeing as Morgoth woyuld never have found its location on his own...Tho it was doomed to fall, it was built in likeness of the city of the elves in Valinor...thougfh could not match its beauty, i think...
TurambarGR 09/Dec/2006 at 02:53 AM
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Janksin: It was Hurin..

Since Tolkien doesn’t explicitlly mentions the name of the biggest city, I would guess it is Gondollin, because all Turgon’s elves lived there, while Fingolfin’s people dwelt in a large area. In addition the city is mentioned more times in the Hobbit and in LOTR.

hellknight 09/Dec/2006 at 04:14 AM
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Helms Deep is a bit out of place here - Helms Deep (the correct name is Hornburg, Helms Deep is the ravine at which the Hornburg was located) was a fortress, not a city. It was build as a defensive stronghold, not as a great city
Endril 09/Dec/2006 at 07:56 AM
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Well, each city was great in his own way.

Valinor: was unreacheble so the safest place. Also there lived the valars and it was the most peaceful place. In a way it was the ideal place to live in peace.

Then Imladris, the place of Elrond, both secure and a great place to live in. The knowledge of the elves was an interesting source of learning about the entire Arda.

As a military stronghold I’ll choose Minas Tirith,  The great defended place is a good stronghold keepng the enemy away and the peoplethat live inside, secure.
MissT 09/Dec/2006 at 08:12 AM
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as Legolas F. said, every city was great in his own way.

to me, the best place would be Edoras  (thats kinda suspicious isnt it? :p) But being unparcial, i think it would be Gondolin, also...  the people who have lived there was safe, they were strong... they were great people, elves, in this case. definetly, Gondolin!

elvenboy20 10/Dec/2006 at 03:16 PM
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i think gondor the white city was the best kingdom in middle earth it was very pretty and it was very big it looked like a really big kingdom anyway and i think it had great defences and a greatarmy not a small one like rohan not saying rohan had a great army but gondors had a stronger looking one just by itself
Tulcahyanda 10/Dec/2006 at 05:27 PM
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I don’t think there is any competition here, Gondolin is the clear winner, You list Tirion as one of the top four, and it is in Valinor, and somewhere in the Sil I remember it saying something to the effect that Gondolin was the closest city in all of Beleriand in terms of beauty and greatness to Tirion. And in my opinion, strictly opinion here Moria would would be second.
Crown of Melkor 10/Dec/2006 at 07:54 PM
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I completely agree with Tulcahyanda i would have to say Gondolin first and moria in second but that again is only my opinion.
Nogrod2605 11/Dec/2006 at 10:11 AM
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Well you really cannot count Minas Tirith in as it was technically a fortress.. even though it sure is a great place :D

However, I am suprised no one mentioned Osgilliath, I mean it was the ancient capital of the Dunedain of the South, in its days of glory it was surely greater in beauty than Minas Anor. If we were however to consider all the ages, then yes, I would choose Gondolin, the Hidden City. But fourth age and on, oh yes, Minas Anor is my choice.

I do not know why people always call it Minas Tirith.. Minas Anor seems just so much more fitting! :P

aclj 11/Dec/2006 at 03:22 PM
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Rivendell is a great city-- as the books call it ’The Last Homely House."  An abode of great significance, it represents the final point of happiness in the realm of Eriador.  Beyond its cavernous cliffs and splendid waterfalls, the jagged snow peaks of the Misty Mountains opens the world of the Wild where great evil come in swarms and rain hell and woe upon any traveller.

As well, the city has elves, the fairest race of Middle-Earth.  One cannot enter the village and not expect to stay there for only a day.  Bilbo was there for several weeks while undertaking the quest for the Lonely Mountain, and Frodo stayed for three months after surviving the disaster on Weathertop.

Rivendell, the city of greatness.

Qtpie 11/Dec/2006 at 06:22 PM
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aclj: Welcome to the lore fora and that was a nicely put post! My favorite city would be Rivendell as well. I like Rivendell mainly for what it is and what a great place of lore and wisdom it is.

’In all the days of the Third Age, after the fall of Gil-galad, Master Elrond abode in Imladris, and he gathered there many Elves, and other folk of wisdom and power from among all the kindreds of Middle-earth, and he preserved through many lives of Men the memory of all that had been fair; and the house of Elrond was a refuge for the weary and the oppressed, and a treasury of good counsel and wise lore.’ The Silmarillion: Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Nenarye 11/Dec/2006 at 06:58 PM
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Um, shouldn’t this thread be in the middle earth locations fora?

But anyways, I’d say Caras Galadhon would be my first choice. I really like the ideas of a city in the trees, and the way tolkien describes it is pretty nice.

Upon the further side there rose to a great height a green wall encirling a green hill thronged with mallorn-trees taller than any they had yet seen in all the land. Their height could not be guessed, but they stood up in the twilight like living towers. In their many-tiered branches and amid their ever-moving leaves countless lights were gleaming, green and gold and silver."

" . . . and saw before them amid a wide lawn a fountain shimmering. It was lit by silver lamps that swung from the boughs of trees, and it fell into a basin of silver, from which a while stream spilled.

"At a great height above the ground he came to a wide talam, like the deck of a great ship.   On it was built a house, so large that almost it would have served for a hall of Men upon the earth."

Tolkien’s descriptions make it seem so majestic and beautifull.

And coming in second, would be Imladris, for the same reasons that aclj and Taragolloion.

BTW, welcome to the plaza aclj!
Turabar 13/Dec/2006 at 01:07 PM
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Well, there are many ways to judge a city as the best. To my opinion:

The most beautiful cities were Menegroth and Gondolin.

The most protected cities were Moria, Gondolin and Nargothrod.

The biggest cities were Menegroth and Gondolin.


Beriel_1229 15/Dec/2006 at 07:32 AM
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I’m, partial to Doriath, and the Citadel of the stars has always attracted me. In ME I would say........ Barad-Dur. Think about it, it could only be destroyed by luck and fate.
Cloute 15/Dec/2006 at 10:09 AM
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My heart belongs to Gondolin!! Turgon created the most beautiful city of Middle Earth. Moreover, it was almost impossible to reach (if it wasn’t of Maeglin and Hurin!) and some of its citizen where the greatest elves of their time. Everything in Gondolin seem attractive and wonderful.
Novgwath 15/Dec/2006 at 06:17 PM
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My gondorian blood says to say Minas Tirith. However i cannot doubt Rivendell as the greatest City. Although Minas Tirith was an architectural masterpiece, and withstood the might of Mordor, Rivendell trumps it. Set in a pristine natural haven, it was a place of outstanding natural beauty, all year round i would imagine. However it is also practical. Never once conquered due to its awkward position, plus undoubtedly the skill of the elves who policed it’s borders. It is also home to Elrond & many other wise elves, adding the air of respect to it,

Reikon Suchi-ru 15/Dec/2006 at 06:24 PM
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Where’s Armenelos, the King’s City upon the Isle of Numenor? All descriptions I’ve read of it were spectacular. I’d also have to say Khazad-dum in it’s grandest years would have rivalled the magnificence of many of the cities that you have mentioned. It was the jewel of the Dwarven race for a time, and I’m sure it was deservingly so.
Aragonia Dunami 15/Dec/2006 at 07:44 PM
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How does one define" greatest" ? Do we mean the largest? The one with the most culture? The best fortified? The most beautiful? The most populous? The longest lived?

We might answer something different using each of these criteria. 


Yarrow Loamsdown 17/Dec/2006 at 01:06 AM
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Yay Reikon Suchi-ru!    
Most people don’t even think as far as Armenelos, ’fairest of citites’ but I’d venture to say it was the Greatest City of Men in Middle-earth... at least in Numenore’s golden years. I would have been pretty scared to visit once the decline set in, but even then Armenelos was still great, though no longer quite so fair.

On the other hand Kazad-Dum would easily be the most imposing. Since even abandond and dark it had the ability to inspire awe in the Fellowship, just imagining it’s vastness.
A radiant underground metropolis of both Dwarves and Elves, vast vaulted archways, cathedral ceilings, lanterns and people... Pomp and circumstance. Why there must have been paths above paths above causaways above streets just seemingly endless. All the appartments with lights twinkling, they had some good shiny down there! Mmhmm.
If it wasn’t the Greatest city, it had to have at least been the Grandest.
likuku 17/Dec/2006 at 03:15 AM
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There are many great citys in middle earth for example - Gondolin, khazad dum, Norghatrond, minas tirith rivendel etc. But on question who is the greatest...I don’t now, but if we are thinking about citys that are ever been in middle eaarth then - definetly Gondolin because there are no citys that can stand beside Gondolin. Gondolin was’t only strond as a fortress, but it is very beautiful and with high culture level.]

But if we talk about LOTR time then it would be - Rivendel, Minas tirith or Baradur. I think that I will choose Baradur because in that time everybody fears it there were no army that can crush the defence of Baradur nad this makes it the most stronger fortress in the LOTR time.

Kinarear 17/Dec/2006 at 01:40 PM
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Still I think Gondilin was the best city ever, the only way that it could be attacked was if somebody betrayed it. Personaly I don’t think Baradur was the best city, I meen it was ful of orcs troll and other horrid creatures and worst of all its the lair of sauron! would you seriasly choose to life in baradur out of all the citys in middle-earth? If so then you’re just strange.

What say you?

Wood Walker 17/Dec/2006 at 07:29 PM
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Shire: Why not there I mean it’s safe ( Out of Sight Out of MInd) The people are simple mind and friendly ( Not greedy or corruptable) Good food, pipe weed, landscape. The list goes on and on................... the Shire may not have the best defence, but it would be my choice for greatest city.

In war time I would want Gondolin

Anuminas 20 18/Dec/2006 at 11:58 AM
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Out of the seventeen cities, I would say the top cities would be Minas Tirith, Annuminas, Rivendell, Moria, and the Grey Havens.  I would say that the time is what is important.  If we are at the end of the Third Age, it would be Minas Tirith, as the elves have abondoned their cities, Moria is uninhabited except by goblins, and Annuminas the capital of Arnor, which is not a very densely populated kingdom.  Over the first three ages, I would say that either Moria or Annuminas would win, probably Annuminas.  After all, it was where Elendil and Gil-Galad marshalled troops for the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.  Arnor was very powerful in those days, and men combined with elves could make great cities indeed. 

Kinarear 18/Dec/2006 at 12:21 PM
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But what about the grey havens? Its on the verge of the sea(the best view ever) its leagues away from Mordor plus its been there for ages(literally) and its peaceful.
outtafitz836 28/Dec/2006 at 06:40 PM
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I think I would have to agree with most of you and say Gondolin. It would never have been found and destroyed if Hurin hadn’t betrayed it’s location. But look at Imladris. I mean, everyone knew that the city was there, and surely Sauron could have found it’s exact location, but Elrond says that he was basically afraid to enter. And even though Minas Tirith is a great city for military reasons, again, look at Imladris. Being built in a valley, it was nearly impossible to breach with out being detected.

So, I’m pointing towards Rivendell, but i’m open to debate. All of the cities mentioned were great in their own way.

(my other favorite is Edoras, but i think i’m kind of biased....who knows??)

Talinor 29/Dec/2006 at 03:12 PM
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I agree most definitly with Aragonia’s statements.
But also, You must take into account the fact that none of these cities were static. Tolkien’s world encompasses a vast realm of space and time, and it is time that is the chief point in this instance.
     While greatness takes on many forms (ie. political, military, creature comfort,beauty,size, etc.) one must also recognize that Middle Earth retains a constant state of flux. For example Gondolin was once a great city, but by the end of the Third age it was a dead place and hardly remembered except in song and tale.

Cities in Tolkien’s world were, even as are our own cities in this present world. They were ever-changing from year to year, and their differences are both hard to compare. for example, London is cramped and poorly laid out, but the feeling of being there is warm and ancient, like an old book. New York is immmense, though Tokyo is larger and both move like rushing water. The Beauty of Paris surpasses them all in my opinion, but it is not so friendly, and it’s corners are filled with a vile complacency. And yet though I know all these as they are now, they were once not so, they have all morphed in everyway.

Also is the scale of a city’s downfall a part of it’s glory? or does it detract? these are very subjective questions, and i do not believe there is an answer in this day or another.

Not to be escapist on the question, but i think they are all very great. Remember also that a city, however it may look or lay, is only as great as it’s people. And a people is only as great as the sum of each other, and only as poor as each individual.
Lady Rowena 30/Dec/2006 at 12:15 PM
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probably the greatest cities in the ’early days’ were gondolin and menegroth. at the time of the war of the ring i think it’s minas tirith. each of tolkien’s cities was unique. all of them were great, but the ’geratness’ was different in each one of them. 

Togo Baggins 30/Dec/2006 at 02:33 PM
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Numenor was pretty cool... if you include the other places in Arda.


But... in Middle-earth i’d say Minas Tirith.

Anfauglith 31/Dec/2006 at 09:28 AM
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What about Minas Ithil?
Maranwe Carnesi 31/Dec/2006 at 12:25 PM
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I would say that Lothlorian because the description is really well written. It makes me feel that i am there. Then would be Rivendell because i also love how they described it and it also felt like i was there. Then my next favorite would be the Shire because i love how they described it and how much detail there was in the story. Then would be Gondor because i love how much Tolkein wrote about it and how extrodinary it is. My last favorite would be Rohan because of all of the creativeness that they put into the description of it.
Turambar_77 01/Jan/2007 at 04:51 AM
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I really like Numenor, because of all the greatness.
Rivendell is also a really beautiful city, I think, especially in the movie trilogy!!!
However, my favourite is still Minas Tirith... I like the way it is all white, that is really beautiful!!!!
Deep Roots 01/Jan/2007 at 06:31 PM
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Defensivly, notonly is Rivendell naturaly protected by its location in a ’horse-shoe’ valley, it is also protected by Elrond, holder of the strongest "working" ring, besides the one ring, of course. Elrond has proven his protective powers by (book, not movie) using the waters of the Ford to wipe the Nazgul off of Frodo’s trail. Both J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson make Rivendell to be a very beautifull, tranquil place. Rivendell is both beautifull and well protected, what els makes a city "great"?
Deep Roots 01/Jan/2007 at 06:34 PM
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My first post was in middle earth of the third age, FYI