"One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep, and the Great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire, ash, and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly."
— Boromir, The Lord of the Rings

Mordor is the region of Middle-earth in which the final blow of the War of the Ring took place. It is the home kingdom of Sauron, situated in southeastern Middle-earth and east of Gondor, and Ithilien and the great river.

Mordor was chosen to be Sauron's fortress because of the mountain ranges surrounding it on three sides, creating a natural fortress against his enemies. Much of the land was a volcanic waste due to the activity of Mount Doom, but the regions that remained unaffected by the volcanic eruptions were lush with wildlife and forests, allowing the Dark Lord's slaves to raise food for his armies here. Eventually the landscape was sapped of all resources due to the large army Sauron had kept in Mordor.

Description[edit | edit source]

The area of Middle-Earth called Mordor is a relic of the devastating works of Morgoth before his banishment to the Void. Located in the southeast of Middle-earth to the East of the Anduin, the great river, it is the land covering the plateau formed by massive volcanic eruptions. In Sindarin it was given the name Mordor (the Black Land) before Sauron settled there, because of its volcano and its eruptions. Shelob had settled in Mordor long before Sauron.
Mordor's geography is unique because of the three enormous mountain ridges surrounding it, on the North, the West and the South. These mountains both protected the land from an unexpected invasion by any of the people living in those directions and kept those living in Mordor from escaping. Mordor was a land of approximately rectangular shape, measuring some 600 miles east to west and 400 north to south. On all but its eastern borders, where it marched with Rhûn and Khand, it was surrounded by the mountains of the Ered Lithui and the Ephel Dúath.
Offshoots of its mountain fences divided the land into two distinct regions, the barren uplands of Gorgoroth in the northwest, and the more fertile southern plain of Nurn, where the inland sea of Núrnen lay.
In the far northwest of Mordor, where the mountains of the Ered Lithui and Ephel Dúath came together, lay a valley named Udûn (after the ancient fortress of darkness in the north of the World). This was the only break in Mordor's western mountain-defences, and Sauron built a great gate, the Morannon, at its mouth to protect his realm.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Mordor is protected by three mountain ranges on all sides. The Ash Mountains lie in the north and the Mountains of Shadow in the west and south. The only viable large entryway into Mordor lies in the north-west corner of Mordor: the deep valley of Udûn protected by the Black Gate of Mordor. Sauron's Dark Tower, the fortress of Barad-dûr, was located at the foothill of the Ash Mountains.

The plateau of Gorgoroth lies to the south-west of Barad-dûr, and so does Mount Doom; to the east lies the plains of Lithlad. Mordor was protected from attacks on all fronts because of its unscalable mountains, while the arid lands of Gorgoroth and Núrn caused great attrition to armies that did manage to break through, preventing them from staying there for a prolonged period of time.

Núrn, in the southern part of Mordor, was more fertile and sufficiently moist to house the inland sea of Núrnen. The land was somewhat fertile due to the ashes from Mount Doom, allowing dry-land farming.

The narrow land of Ithilien with the city of Osigiliath lies to the west of Mordor. Directly east lies Rhûn, the Eastlands, and to the west lies Khand.

The east of Mordor is not mentioned often in descriptions of Mordor. What is known is that the east was a heavily defended area containing a border of forts facing towards Sauron's allies in Rhun.

Ephel Dúath[edit | edit source]

The Mountains of Shadow form the borders of Mordor on the west and south, within Lhingris in The Plateau of Gorgoroth. Bordering North Ithilien and South Ithilien of Gondor on the west, they swing east to form the southern border of Mordor, separating Mordor from the Harad lands to the south. They were breached midway by the Morgulduin, a river of Gondor, forming the pass of Cirith Ungol. In the north-west corner of Mordor, the northern end of the Ephel Dúath forms one side of the pass of Cirith Gorgor. A narrow pass with sheer cliffs on either side where the two mountain ranges meet -- the Ephel Dúath coming up the west side of Mordor, and Ered Lithui across the north of Mordor -- across which the Morannon (Black Gate) was constructed by Sauron. A spur forms one side of the pass of Carach Angren (also called "the Isenmouthe") which encircles the valley of Udûn. A pass in their middle, Cirith Ungol, the Morgul Vale, originally led from the Crossroads outside of Osgiliath to Minas Ithil. Cirith Ungol is Sindarin for "Spider's cleft", from cirith ("cleft, pass") and ungol ("spider"). In their northern parts, the mountains had a series of ridges and hills on their eastern side, known as the Morgai.

Ered Lithui[edit | edit source]

Better known as the Ash Mountains, located within Dor Amarth on the Plateau of Gorgoroth, this mountain range actually forms the entire northern border of Mordor, and extends to Udûn and the Wastes to the west and Agarnaith and Mokál Rukh to the east.

Two staircases provide access to the fortified lower slopes of the mountains. These slopes are haunted by many shadowy beings, and are watched over by three towers.

Cirith Gorgor[edit | edit source]

Cirith Gorgor is the narrow pass between the Ephel Dúath and the Ered Lithui, sealed by the Morannon (the Black Gate) and guarded by Carchost and Narchost, the Towers of the Teeth. After the fall of Sauron, the Gate and the Towers collapsed, and the Conquest of Gorgoroth entered through the pass. This pass connects the Slag-hills within the Wastes to Udûn in Gorgoroth.

Udûn[edit | edit source]

Udûn connects Gorgoroth to the lands beyond and is thus sometimes called "Mordor's antechamber". This polluted valley holds the great forges, quarries, and parade grounds that readied Sauron's armies for war. It lies between Cirith Gorgor and the Morannon in the north-west and the Isenmouthe in the south-east. The castle of Durthang overlooks Udûn from the mountain spur in the south-west, while across the valley the great foundry of Anglach stands on the inner face of the Ered Lithui.

Isenmouthe[edit | edit source]

The Isenmouthe (Archaic Westron) or Carach Angren (Sindarin) (both meaning Iron-mouth) is the pass between the small valley, Udûn, and the larger expanse of the Plateau of Gorgoroth. It is formed where spurs of the ranges of the Ephel Dúath and Ered Lithui met, leaving only a narrow passage between them. Representing the passage to the Black Gate of the Morannon, Carach Angren was heavily fortified, and both the rocky spurs that overlooked it carried fortresses and watchtowers. Across the passage itself, a wall of earth had been built, and a great ditch had been dug across the opening spanned by a single bridge.

When Sauron was defeated, the blast of heat from the eruption of Orodruin severely damaged the gates. The servants of Ugrukhôr were unable to close them, but made an attempt to prevent anyone from passing.

Morannon[edit | edit source]

The Black Gate (Morannon in Sindarin) blocked passage to Udûn in northwestern Mordor, and was the most fortified and direct entrance into the land of Mordor. It spanned the pass of Cirith Gorgor. The massive gate was built by Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, when he first occupied Mordor in the Second Age, to prevent invasion through the Pass of Cirith Gorgor. Like Barad-dûr, it was built with the power of the One Ring.

The Black Gate was set in an impregnable black stone and iron wall. The wall has been estimated to be 60 feet high and 250 feet long, with each half of the great gate being 90 feet wide, and set on large stone wheels. Behind the gate were gigantic circular stone ramparts, and when the gate needed to be opened, two pairs of Mountain-trolls who were tethered to gigantic beams pushed their way around their rampart's track, gradually levering open the gate and allowing for the incoming or outgoing of Mordor's armies. Set behind the gate were myriads of archers, spearmen, bowmen, and hundreds of thousands of Orc troops ready to defend Mordor.

After Sauron's fall at the end of the Second Age in the The Last Alliance of Elves and Men, the Towers of the Teeth were built by the Númenorean (Gondorian) victors. Backed up on the other side of the Udan by the Isenmouthe (Carach Angren), and protected by the castle of Durthang on the west side of Udûn, the Black Gate was redesigned to keep all of Mordor's evil inside, shielding the outside from it - and it from the outside. The reconstruction of Minas Ithil, Tower of the Rising Moon, as well as the construction of Cirith Ungol were also done for the same purpose.

During the War of the Ring, the Army of the West, numbering some 7,000 men, arrived at the Black Gate with the intention of drawing the Eye of Sauron away from Mount Doom, to allow Frodo the Ringbearer to cast the One Ring into the Crack of Doom within it. This they achieved, and the Ring was destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, following which the Black Gate and the Towers of the Teeth as well as Barad-dûr, immediately collapsed.

Towers of the Teeth[edit | edit source]

Originally built by Men of Gondor following The Last Alliance of Elves and Men and the downfall of Sauron at the end of the Second Age, these two watchtowers were placed at the entrance to the Haunted Pass, to guard Mordor and prevent the return of Sauron and his servants.

As Gondor slowly declined and withdrew from east of the Anduin, these watchtowers were abandoned sometime after the defeat of King Ondoher to the Wainriders at Ondoher's Folly. As the Dark Lord returned to Mordor at the end of the Third Age, the towers were taken over by his servants, repaired, and incorporated into the defences of Morannon, the Black Gate. The two towers are called Carchost on the east side of the pass and Narchost on the west. Other names include the Teeth of Mordor, the Towers of the Black Gate, and the Watch-towers of Morannon.

Barad-dûr[edit | edit source]

("Lugbúrz in Black Speech) - visible from all of Mordor - Saruron's is great fortress built with the power of the One Ring.

Mount Doom[edit | edit source]

Home of the Crack of Doom, the volcano is located in the northwest of the Black Land and close to Barad-dûr. In the Sindarin language it is called Orodruin ("fiery mountain") and Amon Amarth ("mountain of fate").

The Plateau of Gorgoroth[edit | edit source]

Normally thought of as the gateway to Mount Doom. As there is no water or plant growth of any type, the area is uninhabited and a bit dusty.

The Sea of Núrnen[edit | edit source]

The largest body of water in the region is located in the relatively fertile southern Nurn area. Desertification is a large problem here though, as is the water boiling off when near-molten boulders land in the lake.

Shelob's Lair[edit | edit source]

Shelob's Lair, also known as Torech Ungol, was located in the pass of Cirith Ungol and served as an impassable labyrinth in which to ensnare the enemies of Mordor. It was also home to Shelob.

March of the King[edit | edit source]

The March of the King is a region that overlaps Minas Tirith and the Pelennor in Old Anórien and Osgiliath in Eastern Gondor, but is separated from them in time, occurring after the Battle of Pelennor Fields. The post-battle versions of each area are thus Minas Tirith (After Battle), Pelennor (After Battle), and Osgiliath (After Battle). As such, it is sometimes called Anórien (After Battle), however it also includes North Ithilien which is not part of Anórien.

The Plateau of Gorgoroth[edit | edit source]

The Plateau of Gorgoroth lies immediately behind the Morannon, the Black gate, in the Land of Mordor, where the shadows lie.

The Plateau of Gorgoroth was a high desolate plain in northwestern Mordor enclosed by the Ephel Dúath on the west and the Ered Lithui on the north. The only known passages into the plateau through these mountain walls were Carach Angren (the Isenmouthe) (from Udûn and the Morannon), Cirith Ungol, and the Imlad Morgul (Morgul Vale).

To the southeast, between two arms of the mountain ranges, was a gap that opened upon the land of Nurn. In this dreary wasteland fumes issued from fissures in the ground and smoke curled and settled in hollows. Centered in the desolation some forty miles east of the Ephel Duath rose the Orodruin (Mount Doom). It and Barad-dûr, situated on a spur of the Ered Lithui and rising taller than the volcano, dominated the landscape of the plateau.

The Wastes[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

First & Second Age[edit | edit source]

Sauron chose to settle in Mordor one thousand years after the First Age ended, and it remained his kingdom for the entirety of the Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth. Sauron had used Mount Doom to forge his One Ring, and at the foot of Mount Doom he built his stronghold Barad-dûr.

What became Mordor was the area around Cuvienen, the Lake of Awakening, where the Elves originated; the great earthquakes caused by the Valar's attack on Utumno, and later the destruction of Beleriand, emptied the lake except for the Nurnen.  Doubtless Sauron was amused by the idea of setting up his headquarters where some of his greatest enemies originated

Sauron ruled Mordor for more than two and a half thousand years. After he obtained the One Ring, he launched an attack from Mordor upon the Elves of Eregion. This attack was fought off by the Númenóreans. Almost thousand years later he fought the Men again. He was then captured by the Númenóreans and taken to their island kingdom (which eventually caused their demise) after which Sauron returned to Mordor.

Third Age[edit | edit source]

After Sauron's attempt to overthrow the Men and Elves failed he was fought back into Mordor. After a siege which lasted for several years, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men entered Mordor and defeated Sauron in a final battle at Mount Doom. Gondor then took upon them the task to guard Mordor and to prevent any evil forces from leaving it. Minas Ithil, the Towers of the Teeth and the Tower of Cirith Ungol were built to watch the two major entrances to Mordor.

File:Mordor Sauron and army art.jpg

Sauron standing before his army of Uruk.

Sauron managed to use Wainriders to weaken Gondor and used his Nazgûl to reclaim the lands of Arnor, where he started rebuilding his armies. The Nazgûl also managed to capture and corrupt Minas Ithil, a city on the border of Mordor. Sauron returned to Mordor after his false defeat in Dol Guldur (which took place during the events of The Hobbit), and Mordor became too powerful to be captured by any army in Middle-earth.

The Last Alliance[edit | edit source]

File:Barad-dûr and Mount Doom.png

Mordor as seen with the Eye of Sauron and Mount Doom in the Third Age.

During the War of the Ring, Sauron assembled all his forces in Mordor. After the Battle of Pelennor Fields, the army of the West marched to the Black Gate. Sauron sent out his armies to crush the combined forces of the Men of Gondor and Rohan. However, Frodo Baggins managed to destroy the One Ring causing Sauron's demise and Mordor's fall. Barad-dur exploded and the Black Gate and the Towers of Teeth collapsed. Mount Doom erupted, and Sauron's Nazgûl were destroyed.

Mordor became empty once more, and the Uruk inside were killed. The lands of Mordor were given to both Gondor's enemies out of sympathy as well as the freed slaves of Núrn whom Sauron had forced to farm in Núrn to feed his armies.

Creatures[edit | edit source]

The following creatures are found within this area:

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Mordor actually has two meanings: the Black Land or the Dark Land in Tolkien's fictional language Sindarin, and The Land of Shadow in Quenya.
  • A proposed etymology out of the context of Middle-earth is Old English mrthor, which means "mortal sin" or "murder."
  • Mordor is also a name cited in some Nordic mythologies referring to a land where its citizens practice evil without knowing it, imposed on themselves by the society long created for that purpose.
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