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Physical Description
LocationNorthwestern Mordor
InhabitantsSauron, Nazgul, Orcs
DescriptionGargantuan tower that hosted the Eye of Sauron
General Information
Other namesLugburz, The Dark Tower
EtymologyS. "Dark Tower"
EventsSiege of Barad-dur, Downfall of Barad-dûr
""...wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant... Barad-dûr, fortress of Sauron.""
― Vision of Frodo Baggins[1]

Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, was the chief fortress of Sauron, on the Plateau of Gorgoroth in Mordor. Known in Black Speech as Lugburz, the Eye of Sauron kept watch over Middle-earth from its highest tower.



First Building of Barad-dûr

Sauron began to build Barad-dûr in c. S.A. 1000 choosing Mordor as a land to make into a stronghold.[2] In S.A. 1600 he secretly forged the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom and completed his fortress after 600 years of the construction with the power of the Ring.

During the following years Sauron was able to consolidate his power and extend it into the east.[3] However, in S.A. 3262, Ar-Pharazôn, king of Númenor, landed at the Haven of Umbar with a great host and marched north to Mordor. Their splendor and might was so great that Sauron humbled himself before the king and came to Númenor as a hostage.

The year after the Downfall of Númenor in S.A. 3319 Sauron's spirit secretly returned to Barad-dûr.[2] There he worked a terrible shape for himself, took up again the One Ring and prepared for war against the Eldar and the Exiles of Númenor who had established their realms in Arnor and Gondor.[3] He succeeded in taking Minas Ithil but in S.A. 3430[2] Elendil and Gil-Galad forged the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and defeated Sauron four years later in the Battle of Dagorlad.[3] Then they passed into Mordor and besieged Barad-dûr. The siege lasted for seven years, Gil-Galad and Elendil were slain and in S.A. 3441[2] Sauron was finally defeated.[3] Isildur son of Elendil cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand and took it for his own instead of destroying it. The Dark Tower was finally leveled but its foundations remained since Barad-dûr was created using the power of the One Ring and couldn't be destroyed as long as that existed.

Reconstruction of Barad-dùr

The Reconstruction of Barad-dùr began after Sauron was driven from Mirkwood in T.A. 2941 by the White Council[3]. Given that the Tower originally took some six hundred years to raise, it seems surprising that its second building can have taken no more than a few decades. As mentioned before, the foundations of the Dark Tower remained ready to build upon, so it is perhaps explained.

Only when the One Ring was destroyed did the Tower finally fell; without Sauron's power to sustain it, it could not stand. Barad-dûr collapsed to ruin and Sauron was finally defeated.


The Dark Tower was described as existing on a massive scale so large it was almost surreal, although Tolkien does not provide much detail beyond its size and immense strength. Since it had a "topmost tower" (the location of the Window of the Eye, from which the Eye of Sauron gazed out over Middle-earth), it presumably had multiple towers.[4] It is otherwise described as dark and surrounded in shadow, so that it could not be clearly seen.

Barad-Dûr was constructed mainly of metal. "Adamant" usually refers to diamond, but it probably has the more general meaning of "hard, unbreakable substance". From the main gate of the Tower, that was made of steel, a causeway ran out into the plain of Gorgoroth, across a mighty bridge.

Frodo and Sam saw Barad-dûr as they journeyed to Mount Doom: "...rising black, blacker and darker than the vast shades amid which it stood, the cruel pinnacles and iron crown of the topmost tower of Barad-dûr..."[4]

Portrayal in adaptations

2001-3: Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings:

In the Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and his design team built a 9 foot high miniature ("big-ature") of Barad-dûr for use in the film. Using the size scale for the model implemented for the films, the Dark Tower is depicted as being over 1500 meters (5,000 feet) tall.

The Return of the King film also shows Barad-dûr as clearly visible from the Black Gate of Mordor. Even granting its enormous size, it was located one hundred miles away and to the east of the Gate, and behind the inner mountain ridges of Udûn so Aragorn's army would probably not have been able to see it. In the film version, the geography of Mordor seems generally to have been compressed somewhat, perhaps for artistic reasons related to rendering such complex stories in a visual medium. In the case of the Black Gate scene, having Barad-dûr visible from the Gate means that the army can see the Eye of Sauron staring at them.

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Mount Doom"