"A long-tilted valley, a deep gulf of shadow, ran back far into the mountains. Upon the further side, some way within the valley's arms, high on a rocky seat upon Ephel Dúath, stood the walls and towers of Minas Morgul. All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with light. Not the light welling through the marble walls of Minas Ithil long ago, fair and radiant in the hollow of the hills. Paler indeed than the moon ailing in some slow eclipse was the light of it now, wavering and blowing like a noisome exhalation of decay, a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing."
The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"

Minas Morgul was a fortress of Gondor, originally called Minas Ithil. As the easternmost fortification in the kingdom of Gondor, Minas Ithil safeguarded the eastern borders of the Kingdom of Gondor and protected the capital Osgiliath from the forces of Mordor during the early part of the Third Age. As Gondor's armies weakened, it was then taken by the forces of Mordor, and used as a base to attack Gondor and in the process, decayed into the dark fortress and was renamed as a result.

Minas Morgul was located in the upland valley known as the Morgul Vale at the feet of the Mountains of Shadow. It overlooked the region of Ithilien and controlled the only passes through the mountains that led into Mordor, the Morgul Pass and the Pass of Cirith Ungol.[1]

History Edit

Minas Ithil Edit


Minas Morgul located on this map

Minas Ithil was built by the faithful Númenóreans, who escaped Númenor's destruction in the Second Age, as a defense against Mordor, and was the dwelling of the House of Isildur.[2]

In its heyday, Minas Ithil was described as a beautiful sight, with light filling its inner courts with silver light and causing its walls to gleam silver and white. It was a walled city of white marble built on a high shelf of rock. Within the walls, there were white houses and a tall tower. The walls and the tower had many windows, and the top of the tower revolved slowly back and forth. A road ran from Osgiliath on the Anduin through Ithilien to the city and crossed the Mountains of Shadow into Mordor via the pass.

In SA 3428, Sauron sent a great army to Minas Ithil and after about a year of siege, it was captured and the White Tree was burned (Isildur recovered a sapling and planted it in Minas Tirith in TA 2). However, in SA 3430, Anárion recaptured the city, though he died in the following War of the Last Alliance. After Sauron was defeated at the culmination of that war in SA 3441, a watch was kept at Minas Ithil to prevent the return of evil to Mordor.[2]

The Nazgûl, led by the Witch-king of Angmar, the most fearsome of Sauron's minions, returned to Mordor in 1980 to prepare for Sauron's return. Soon Mordor started to attack and conquer parts of Gondor. In TA 2000, the forces of the nine Nazgûl laid siege to Minas Ithil. In TA 2002 after a long siege, the city fell and was transformed into a bastion of evil. As a result, it came to be called Minas Morgul.[2]

Minas Morgul Edit

Grnazgul 021 Nazgul

The Witch-king's true look, as seen in the The Fellowship of the Ring film

Terror and war were directed at Gondor from Minas Morgul until Ithilien was deserted. During the War of the Ring, the army that attacked Osgiliath and undertook the Siege of Gondor came from Minas Morgul.

In fashion Minas Morgul seems to have been much like Minas Tirith, only corrupted. The topmost course of the tower revolved slowly, and the walls were illuminated by a pale luminous glow.

The city had a strange watchfulness about it, and intruders to Morgul Vale were always noted. Most who approached the city could not stand to set eyes on it, and felt watched.

In the War of the Ring, Aragorn and Gandalf broke the bridge and set the fields by it on fire to keep its troops from the Cross-road.

After the War, Aragorn (as King) counseled Faramir to make his abode in the Emyn Arnen southeast of Minas Tirith, in Ithilien, and decreed that Minas Ithil in the Morgul Vale, despoiled by its years as Minas Morgul, be completely destroyed, for although it might in time come to be made clean, no man might dwell there for many long years[3]. Eventually, the city was rebuilt as Minas Ithil and the evil that tainted the land was at last gone.

Portrayal in adaptations Edit

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy Edit

In Peter Jackson's movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Minas Morgul is shown as a massive spectral fortress on the other side of a moat. Frodo is drawn by the power of the Ring, but Sam and Gollum hide him as the Morgul army of orcs passes; the Nazgûl on their mounts are not seen, except for the Witch-king who is shown to leave the fortress on a Fellbeast. It also makes a brief appearance in the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, when the Ringwraiths (mounted on horses) are shown exiting the fortress en route to the Shire far away.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Edit

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The city shortly after its capture by the Witch-king

The video game Middle-earth: Shadow of War features Minas Ithil throughout the game, and depicts its transformation into Minas Morgul after being besieged by the Nazgûl. In the game, the main character, Talion, aided by the wraith of the Elf-smith Celebrimbor, attempts to hold back the siege only to be betrayed from within. The city falls into the hands of Sauron and becomes Minas Morgul. After Talion is betrayed by Celebrimbor and takes possession of one of the Nine Rings of Power, he recaptures the city as his stronghold to hold back the Orcs for as long as he can. Decades later, Talion finally succumbs to the power of the Ring and becomes one of the Nine, and Minas Morgul once again falls back under the control of the Witch-king until his fall.

Gallery Edit

Talion At Minas Morgul
Talion shown outside the city in Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Minas Mogul Tower
As depicted in Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Side view Of Minas Morgul
Another view from Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Translation around the world Edit

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ሚናስ ሞርጉል
Arabic ميناس مورغول
Armenian Մինաս Մորգուլ
Belarusian Cyrillic Мі́нас Мо́ргул (Minas Morgul)

Мінас Ітыль (Minas Ithil)

Bengali মিনাস মর্গুল্
Bulgarian Cyrillic Минас Моргул (Minas Morgul)

Минас Итил (Minas Ithil)

Catalan Minas Mórgul (Minas Morgul)

Minas Íthil (Minas Ithil)

Chinese (Hong Kong) 米那斯魔窟 (Minas Morgul)

米那斯伊希爾 (Minas Ithil)

Georgian მინას მორგული
Greek Μίνας Μόργκουλ
Gujarati મિનસ મોર્ગુલ્
Hebrew מינאס מורגול (Minas Morgul)

מינאס איתיל (Minas Ithil)

Hindi मीनास मोर्गुल
Japanese ミナス・モルグル (Minas Morgul)

ナス・イシル (Minas Ithil)

Kannada ಮೈನಸ್ ಮಾರ್ಗುಲ್
Kazakh Мінас Моргұл (Cyrillic) Minas Morgul (Latin)
Korean 미나스 모르굴
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Минас Моргул
Macedonian Cyrillic Минас Моргул
Marathi मिनस मॉरगुल
Mongolian Cyrillic Минас Моргул
Nepalese मिनस मोर्गुल्
Pashto میناس مورګول
Persian میناس مورگول (Minas Morgul)

میناس ایتیل (Minas Ithil)

Punjabi ਮਿਨਸ ਮੋਰਗੂਲ
Russian Минас Моргул
Sanskrit मिनस् मोर्गुल्
Serbian Минас Моргул (Cyrillic) Minas Morgul (Latin)
Sinhalese මිනස් මොර්ගුල්
Tajik Cyrillic Минас Моргул
Tamil மிநஸ் மொர்குல்
Telugu మినస మొర్గుల్
Thai มินัสมอร์กูล (Minas Morgul)

มินัสอิธิล (Minas Ithil)

Ukrainian Cyrillic Мінас Морґул (Minas Morgul)

Мінас-Ітіль (Minas Ithil)

Urdu میناس مورگول
Uzbek Минас Моргул (Cyrillic) Minas Morgul (Latin)
Yiddish מינאַס מאָרגול
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 | Caradhras | Emyn Muil | Erebor | Fangorn Forest | High Pass | Iron Hills | Lórien | Mirkwood | Mount Doom | Old Forest | Tower Hills | Weather Hills


Angband | Barad-dûr | Bree | Caras Galadhon | Dol Guldur | Fornost | Hornburg | 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

References Edit

  1. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Regional Maps, "Mordor (and Adjacent Lands)"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Silmarillion, Akallabêth (Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age)
  3. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter V: "The Steward and the King"
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