Places in Middle-earth
Minas Tirith — Gondor
Meaning: tower of guard
Mundburg 'guardian fortress'
the City of Gondor
the City of the Men of Gondor
the City of the Kings
the Guarded City
the High City
The major city of Gondor at the end of the Third Age, replacing Osgiliath as the permanent seat of the Kings and the Stewards after the Great Plague (1636). Originally named Minas Anor 'Tower of the Sun', it was renamed Minas Tirith 'Tower of Guard' after the Fall of Minas Ithil in 2002.
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 wall 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 that the paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then that across the face of the hill. And each time that it passed the line of the Great Gate it went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of rock whose huge out-thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might... look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below. The entrance to the Citadel also looked eastward, but was delved in the heart of the rock; thence a long lamp-lit slope ran up to the seventh gate. Thus men reached at last the High Court, and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower: tall and shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain.
A strong citadel it was indeed, and not to be taken by a host of enemies, if there were any within that could hold weapons; unless some foe could come behind and scale the lower skirts of Mindolluin, and so come upon the narrow shoulder that joined the Hill of Guard to the mountain mass. But that shoulder, which rose to the height of the fifth wall, was hedged with great ramparts right up to the precipice that overhung its western end; and in that space stood the houses and domed tombs of bygone kings and lords....
Pippin gazed in growing wonder at the great stone city... greater and stronger than Isengard, and far more beautiful. Yet it was in truth falling year by year into decay.... In every street they passed some great house or court over whose doors and arched gates were carved many fair letters of strange and ancient shapes: names... of great men and kindreds that had once dwelt there; and yet now they were silent....
At last they came out of shadow to the seventh gate, and the warm sun... glowed here on the smooth walls and rooted pillars, and the great arch with keystone carven in the likeness of a crowned and kingly head. Gandalf dismounted, for no horse was allowed in the Citadel....
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 1, Minas Tirith
In [King Elessar's] time the City was made more fair than it had ever been, even in the days of its first glory; and it was filled with trees and with fountains, and its gates were wrought of mithril and steel, and its streets were paved with white marble; and the Folk of the Mountain laboured in it, and the Folk of the Wood rejoiced to come there; and all was healed and made good, and the houses were filled with men and women and the laughter of children, and no window was blind nor any courtyard empty; and after the ending of the Third Age of the world into the new age it preserved the memory and the glory of the years that were gone.
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, The Steward and the King
Elena Tiriel 4Jul04, 23Dec07