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Mordor was a black, volcanic plain in the southeast of Middle-earth to the east of Gondor, Ithilien, and the great river Anduin. Mordor was chosen by Sauron as his realm because of the mountain ranges surrounding it on three sides, creating a natural fortress against his enemies preventing them from easily invading it.



Mordor was protected from three sides by large mountain ranges, arranged roughly in a rectangular manner: the Ered Lithui ('Ash Mountains') in the north, and Ephel Dúath ('Mountains of Shadow') in the west and south. In the northwest corner of Mordor the deep valley of Udûn was one of the few entrances for large armies. Guarding the entrance was the Black Gate of Mordor. In front of the Black Gate lay the Dagorlad or the Battle Plain. Sauron's main fortress of Barad-dûr sat at the end of a spur of the Ered Lithui. To the southwest of Barad-dûr lay the arid Plateau of Gorgoroth and Mount Doom; to the east lay the plain of Lithlad. Mordor's geography was excellent for defense against enemies attacking on all fronts, for nearly un-scalable mountains defended Mordor on three sides, while the broken, jagged land of Gorgoroth and Núrn would greatly impede any army that managed to break through.

Barad-dúr Roger Garland

Barad-dûr and its surroundings, depicted by Roger Garland

Mordor's dry and blasted geography would also be extremely unfriendly to any army bivouacked on the plains, forcing a withdrawal within days (unless they have stores sufficient for months). The only other paths for armies to cross into Mordor from the west, over the Ephel Dúath were the Morgul Pass and the pass of Cirith Ungol. Isildur originally built the city of Minas Ithil to guard the western end of both passes from any threat from Mordor, but in the Third Age the population of the city waned and it was conquered by the Nazgûl. It became the home of the Ringwraiths and was renamed Minas Morgul, and was thereafter a great stronghold of evil, ever at war with Gondor to the west until the end of the War of the Ring. To escape the vigilance of Morgul, to enter Mordor one would still have to get past the lair of Shelob, and the Tower of Cirith Ungol- a feat only Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee (led by Gollum) ever accomplished - though not without being waylaid by the great fearsome spider Shelob, and Frodo being taken prisoner to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.

The southern part of Mordor, called Núrn, was slightly more fertile, and watered enough to hold the inland Sea of Núrnen. Nurn was made somewhat fertile because the ash blown from Mount Doom left its soil nutrient-rich, thus allowing dry-land farming.

To the west of Mordor was the narrow land of Ithilien with the city of Osgiliath and the great river Anduin, while directly east of it was Rhûn, and to the southeast, Khand.

Mordor's DuoSpire

Mount Doom and the Dark Tower

The east of Mordor is by far the least mentioned of any of Mordor's geographic notes and descriptions. One might assume that the easiest route to Mount Doom would be for the Fellowship to journey through the 'unguarded' section in the east, which no mountains obstructed. However, it would have been difficult to pass unnoticed, because the many roads running from Mordor into Rhûn were often marched along by Easterlings entering Mordor or patrolling the roads and borders.

Mountains and passes[]


Named Orc-holds[]



Sauron looking over the Orc Army of Gorgoroth

Early history[]

Mount Doom was created by Morgoth during the First Age.[2] In unknown moment of First Age, perhaps shortly around the War of Wrath, Shelob left the Nan Dungortheb and settled there with her offspring. Sauron settled in Mordor 1,000 years after the end of the First Age, and it remained the centre of his power for the whole of the Second Age and again at the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. In the north-western corner of this land stood Mount Doom, where Sauron had forged the One Ring. Near Mount Doom stood Sauron's stronghold Barad-dûr. After this time, Sauron was known as the Dark Lord of Mordor.

For two and a half thousand years, Sauron ruled Mordor uninterruptedly. Having wrought the Ring, it was from there that he launched the attack upon the Elves of Eregion in the War of the Elves and Sauron. He was repelled by the Men of Númenor. He later opposed Númenor, but such was their power that his own servants deserted him and he was captured by the Númenóreans and brought to their island kingdom, eventually causing its destruction (see the Downfall of Númenor). Immediately after Númenor's destruction, Sauron returned to Mordor as a spirit and resumed his rule.

The Last Alliance and Third Age[]


The battle of the Siege of Barad-dûr in The Return of the King film

Sauron's rule was interrupted again when his efforts to destroy Gondor failed; his forces were driven back and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men formed to oppose him. After the Battle of Dagorlad the army of the Last Alliance entered Mordor and besieged the Barad-dûr for seven years. Eventually Sauron came forth and was defeated in a final battle on the slopes of Mount Doom. For about 1600 years, Mordor was guarded by Gondor in order to prevent evil from returning. The Towers of the Teeth, Durthang and the Tower of Cirith Ungol were built by Gondor to watch the major entry points to the dark land. Gorgoroth during this time was desolate, with the Barad-dûr levelled down to its foundations.

However following the Great Plague in TA 1636 the watch on Mordor failed and evil began to creep back in. Sauron eventually used the Wainriders to distract and weaken Gondor, and the Nazgûl re-entered in TA 1980. They reclaimed Mordor and started to rebuild its might. Minas Ithil was conquered by the Nine Ringwraiths in TA 2002 and Gondor's abandoned fortresses were occupied by evil creatures. By the time Sauron returned to Mordor in TA 2942 after his false defeat at Dol Guldur (in the events that took place at the time of Bilbo Baggins's quest), Mordor was too strong to be captured by any military might that was available in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age. Sauron declared himself openly in TA 2951 and Mount Doom burst into flame three years later.


Sauron's vast army crossing the Gorgoroth

War of the Ring[]

In the War of the Ring, Sauron gathered all his forces to Mordor. In the north were great garrisons and forges of war, while surrounding the bitter inland Sea of Núrnen to the south lay the vast fields of Núrn tended for the provision of the armies by hordes of slaves brought in from lands to the east and south. After the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the Army of the West marched to the Black Gate. Sauron sent his army to destroy the Men of Gondor and Rohan at the Battle of the Black Gate, but then Frodo Baggins destroyed the One Ring and Mordor fell. Sauron's power was destroyed, sending shock waves through the air and ground. The Dark Tower of Barad-dûr, the Black Gate and the Towers of Teeth collapsed into ruin. Mount Doom erupted and both Sauron and his Ringwraiths were destroyed. The shadows dissipated and Aragorn II gave a land to Sauron's slaves. It is untold what became of the remaining Orc-holds.


MORDOR location map in middle earth

Mordor's location in Middle-earth

In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad assumes that the lands of Mordor and Khand lay where the inland Sea of Helcar had been, and that the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen were its remnants. In particular, she suggested that the uplift of the Plateau of Gorgoroth was closely related to the formation of Mount Doom and that the Ephel Dúath formed as a result of a tectonic uplift caused by the cataclysms of the War of Wrath.[3][4] However, in The Peoples of Middle-earth, the 12th volume of The History of Middle-earth, that was published after the Atlas, is stated that at least Mount Doom was created by Morgoth during the First Age, so before the draining of the Sea of Helcar. Also the name Mordor was given already before Sauron settled there.[5]

Languages and people[]

At the time of the War of the Ring, Sauron had gathered great armies to serve him. These included enslaved Men of the East and the South, who spoke a variety of tongues, and Orcs and Trolls, who usually spoke a debased form of the Common Speech. But within Barad-dûr and among the captains of Mordor (the Ringwraiths and other high-ranking servants such as the Mouth of Sauron), the Black Speech was still used, the language devised by Sauron during the Dark Years of the Second Age. In addition to ordinary Orcs and Trolls, Sauron had bred a stronger strain of Orcs, the Black Uruks, and very large Trolls known as Olog-hai who could endure the sun. The Olog-hai knew only the Black Speech.


Mordor has two meanings: The Black Land or The Dark Land in Tolkien's contrived language Sindarin, and The Land of Shadow in Quenya. The root mor ("dark", "black") also appears in Moria. Dor ("land") also appears in Gondor ("stone-land") and Doriath ("fenced land"). The Quenya word for Shadow is "mordo". It is pronounced with a Russian-sounding r. The gate of Mordor, Morannon, means Black Gate. It was named this by the Elves in the Second Age.

A proposed etymology out of the context of Middle-earth is Old English morthor, which means "mortal sin" or "murder". (The latter are descended from the former.) It is not uncommon for names in Tolkien's fiction to have relevant meanings in several languages, both those invented by Tolkien, and "real" ones, but this of course happens with any two languages. 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. This quite fits with Tolkien's Mordor.

In adaptations[]

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power[]

In Amazon Studios' series The Rings of Power, Mordor and some of the areas around it in southern Rhovanion had been called the Southlands before the making of the Rings of Power and the One Ring. The geographic bounds of the Southlands are not yet specified, but are implied to encompass at least some of Mordor. The characters Bronwyn, Theo, Rowan, Tredwill, Waldreg, and Halbrand are among the lands' inhabitants.

Season One[]

The villages of Tirharad and Hordern, and the original home of Halbrand, are in the Southlands. The Elf Arondir and his company are first seen stationed in Tirharad.

In episode three, "Adar", Galadriel discovers at Númenor's Hall of Lore that the sigil of Sauron she had seen in various places was, apparently, a small, abstract map of the Southlands, suggesting to her that Sauron had chosen that land to reestablish his presence, in some capacity. The Trenches, the Orc-hold to which Arondir, Revion, and Médhor are taken, is also in the Southlands, likely west of the Ephel Duath. Magrot, an Orc taskmaster, and Adar himself reside there.

In the end of episode six, Waldreg uses the Orc Sigil Hilt as a key to open a dam. The water flows through tunnels dug by the orcs shown in the prior episodes towards an inactive volcano. When the water hits the underground lavapit, it causes the volcano to erupt, turning the Southlands into an ashen wasteland. It turns out, the volcano is mount Doom and the desolated Southlands are now renamed Mordor.


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ሞርዶር
Arabic موردور
Armenian Մորդոր
Belarusian Cyrillic Мордор
Bengali মর্ডোর
Bulgarian Cyrillic Мордор
Burmese မေမော်ဒေါ
Catalan Mórdor
Chinese (Hong Kong) 魔多
Danish Mordor ("Det Mørke Land")
Georgian მორდორი
Greek Μόρντορ
Gujarati મોર્દોર
Hebrew מורדור
Hindi मोर्दोर
Japanese モルドール
Kannada ಮೊರ್ಡೊರ್
Kazakh Мордор (Cyrillic) Mordor (Latin)
Korean 모르도르
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Мордор
Laotian ມໂຣດໂຣ
Macedonian Cyrillic Мордор
Marathi मोर्दोर
Mongolian Cyrillic Мордор
Nepalese मोर्दोर
New Balaybalan Alem-eb Quzrak
Pashto موردور ?
Persian موردور
Punjabi ਮੋਰ੍ਦੋਰ
Russian Мордор
Sanskrit मोर्दोर्
Serbian Мордор (Cyrillic) Mordor (Latin)
Sinhalese මොර්දොර්
Slovene Mordor
Tajik Cyrillic Мордор
Tamil மொர்தொர்
Telugu మొర్దొర
Thai มอร์ดอร์
Ukrainian Cyrillic Мордор
Urdu مورداور
Uzbek Мордор (Cyrillic) Mordor (Latin)
Yiddish מאָרדאָר
Places of Middle-earth and Arda

Middle-earth Locations:


Arnor | Dunland | Ettenmoors | Forochel | Forodwaith | Gondor | Harad | Ithilien | Khand | Lindon | Minhiriath | Mordor | Rhovanion | Rhûn | Rivendell | Rohan | The Shire

Forests & Mountains:

Amon Dîn | Amon Hen | Amon Lhaw | Caradhras | Emyn Muil | Erebor | Fangorn Forest | High Pass | Iron Hills | Lórien | Mirkwood | Mount Doom | Mount Gundabad | Old Forest | Orod-na-Thôn | Tower Hills | Weathertop Hill


Angband | Barad-dûr | Bree | Caras Galadhon | Dol Guldur | Fornost Erain | Hornburg | Isengard | Minas Morgul | Minas Tirith | Last Homely House | Tower of Amon Sûl | Tower of Orthanc | Osgiliath | Umbar | Utumno


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

The rest of Arda:

Aman | Burnt Land of the Sun | Dark Land | Empty Lands | Neldoreth | New lands | Númenor | Tol Eressëa


  1. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Second Age"
  2. The History of Middle-earth, vol: 12: The Peoples of Middle-earth, XIII: "Last Writings", pg. 390 (note 14)
  3. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Second Age, "Introduction"
  4. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Regional Maps, "Mordor (and Adjacent Lands)"
  5. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 12 The Peoples of Middle-earth, ch. XIII Last Writings