"Then at last his gaze was held: wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron. All hope left him."
The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship"

Barad-dûr ("Dark Fortress") was the Dark Lord Sauron's primary stronghold in Mordor, serving as his base of operations in Middle-earth during the Second and Third Ages.


Barad-dûr was held together by dark magic and was the greatest fortress in Middle-earth of its time. It was originally built in the Second Age and leveled after Sauron's defeat in the War of the Last Alliance. Sauron had Barad-dûr rebuilt during the Third Age as he regained his power, but the tower was forever destroyed immediately following the destruction of the One Ring, as it was constructed and held together using the Ring's dark magic.


Barad dur by gordontarpley-d35cazm

The Gates of Barad-dûr, and rivers of molten rock from Mount Doom

Barad-dûr was built by Sauron in the land of Mordor, not far from the volcano known as Mount Doom. The construction of the tower began around the SA 1000, and took six hundred years to complete. It was the greatest fortress built since the fall of Angband during the War of Wrath.[4]

Barad-dûr fell under siege for seven years by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men during the Second Age, and was leveled after Sauron's defeat at the hands of Isildur, but because it was created using the power of the One Ring, its foundations could not be destroyed completely while the Ring itself still existed.[5] As Isildur failed to destroy the Ring, the tower was eventually re-built when Sauron returned to Mordor thousands of years later.[6]

Some time near the end of the Third Age (TA 3009-TA 3017), Gollum was captured and taken to Barad-dûr, while Gandalf and Aragorn were also searching for him. He was tortured for information regarding the whereabouts of the One Ring, as Sauron had learned that he had once possessed it, and thus Sauron learned that the One Ring had been found. Satisfied that he had learned all he could from the creature, Sauron allowed Gollum to be released in TA 3017.

Sauron eye barad dur

The eye of Sauron upon Barad-dûr

Only when Frodo Baggins (with the unwitting aid of Gollum) destroyed the One Ring, the Tower was finally brought down. Without Sauron's power from the Ring to sustain it, it could not stand. The moment the One Ring was cast into the fires of Mount Doom and was unmade, Barad-dûr collapsed into ruin, never to be rebuilt.[7]


Barad-dûr means "Dark tower" in Sindarin, from barad ("fortress, tower") and dûr ("dark").[8]

In Black Speech, Lugbúrz also means "Dark tower".

Behind the Scenes

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. It is otherwise described as dark and surrounded in shadow, so that it could not be clearly seen. It was known to have giant caverns or "Pits" under the immense structure which could have been prisons or mines.

Portrayal in adaptations

The Return of the King (1980)


Barad-dûr as depicted in the 1980 film

In The Return of the King film created by Rankin/Bass and Topcraft, Barad-dûr is only shown a few times. It is depicted as a castle-like fortress on the side of a mountain. The Eye of Sauron is not a part of the tower as depicted in Peter Jackson's films, rather it appears in the skies of Mordor.

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

Rebuilding of Barad-dur

The reconstruction of Barad-dûr after its destruction during the Last Alliance of Elves and Men

In the The Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and his design team built a nine foot high miniature bigature 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 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) tall.

The Eye of Sauron was on top of Barad-dûr, looking out on Middle-earth, searching for the One Ring.

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, not to mention being behind the inner mountain ridges of Udûn so Aragorn's army would probably not have been able to see it. It is also shown in front of Mount Doom, but when looking from the gate as shown in the maps of Middle-earth, Barad-dûr is actually somewhat behind Mount Doom. Also, it is significantly closer to Mount Doom in the Return of the King film than in the previous two films. In the film version, the geography of Mordor and Middle-earth in general seems 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.

Another reference to a place in or near the Dark Tower was the "Black Pits", mentioned by Shagrat at Cirith Ungol. It was a slave-mining place for disobedient Orcs.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Barad-dur under construction

Barad-dûr as seen in Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Barad-dûr is visible, though not a playable location, in the region of Gorgoroth in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. It is depicted similarly to its appearance in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy; shown as being under construction.

Translations around the world

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ባራድ፡ዱር
Arabic باراد-دور
Armenian Բարադ-դուր
Belarusian Cyrillic Барад-дур
Bengali বারাদ্-দুর
Bulgarian Cyrillic Барад-дур
Catalan Bàrad-dûr
Chinese (Hong Kong) 巴拉多
Georgian ბარად-დური
Greek Μπαράντ-Ντούρ
Gujarati બરદ્-દુર
Hebrew ברד-דור ?
Japanese バラド=ドゥーア
Kazakh Барад-дұр (Cyrillic) Barad-dur (Latin)
Korean 바랏두르 (Hangul) Baradureu (Latin)
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Барад-дур
Macedonian Cyrillic Барад-дур
Marathi बारादा-दुर
Mongolian Cyrillic Барад-дур
Nepalese बरद्-दुर
Pashto باراد-دور ?
Persian باراد-دور
Portuguese Torre Negra
Russian Барад-Дур
Sanskrit बरद्-द्ûर्
Serbian Барад-дур (Cyrillic) Barad-dur (Latin)
Sinhalese බරාඩ්-ඩර්
Tajik Cyrillic Барад-дур
Tamil பரத்-துர் ?
Telugu బరద్-దుర
Thai บารัดดูร์
Ukrainian Cyrillic Барад-Дур
Urdu بارادءدور
Uzbek Барад-дур (Cyrillic) Barad-dur (Latin)
Yiddish וואַראַד-סופּ
Places of Middle-earth and Arda

Middle-earth Locations:


Dunland | Ithilien | Rohan | Arnor | Ettenmoors | Gondor | Lindon | Minhiriath | Rhûn | The Shire | Mordor | Harad | Forochel

Forests & Mountains:

Amon Dîn | Amon Hen | Amon Lhaw | Emyn Muil | Erebor | Fangorn Forest | High Pass | Iron Hills | Lórien | Mirkwood | Mount Doom | Old Forest | Redhorn Pass | Tower Hills | Weather Hills


Angband | Barad-dûr | Bree | Caras Galadhon | Dol Guldur | Fornost | Helm's Deep | Isengard | Minas Morgul | Minas Tirith | Orthanc | Osgiliath | Rivendell | Umbar | Utumno


Cair Andros | Gap of Rohan | Grey Havens | Buckland | Enedwaith | Dagorlad | Dead Marshes | Fords of Isen | Weathertop | Argonath

The rest of Arda:

Númenor | Dark Land | Aman (Valinor) | Tol Eressëa


  1. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Second Age"
  2. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter I: "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
  3. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Great Years"
  4. The Silmarillion, Akallabêth (The Downfall of Númenor)
  5. The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
  6. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, I: The Númenórean Kings, (iv): "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  7. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter III: "Mount Doom"
  8. Parma Eldalamberon, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien