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For the album by black metal band Summoning, see Lugburz (album).
Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium
Other names Dark Tower (of Mordor)
Lugbúrz (Black Speech)
Description Tower of Sauron
Location At the end of a mountain spur of the Ered Lithui in Mordor
Lifespan S.A. c. 1600– T.A. 3019
Founder Sauron
Lord Sauron

Barad-dûr is a fictional fortress in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings and is described in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and other works. It was located in the north-west of Mordor close to Mount Doom. Sauron ruled Mordor from Barad-dûr. The name was pronounced "Ba'rad doorr."[1]


Barad-dûr means "Dark Tower" in the language of Sindarin, it is composed of Barad = Tower and Dûr = Dark. Barad-dûr was called "Lugbúrz" in the Black Speech of Mordor which also translates as "Dark Tower," it is composed of Lug = Tower and Búrz = Dark.[2]


Barad-dûr was built by Sauron the Dark Lord of Mordor with the power of the One Ring during the Second Age. Its building took six hundred years to complete (S.A. c1000-c1600) and it was strengthened by the power of the Ring. It was the greatest fortress ever built since the Fall of Angband, and much of Sauron's personal power went into it. The Eye of Sauron kept watch over Middle-earth from its highest tower.

Barad-dûr was besieged from S.A. 3434 for seven years by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. During the final battle Isildur cut the Ring from Sauron's hand but afterwards refused to destroy it. Although Barad-dûr was captured and levelled after Sauron's defeat, the foundations could not be destroyed while the Ring still existed; because of this the fortress was more quickly rebuilt when Sauron returned to Mordor thousands of years later.[3] Rebuilding began in the year 2951 of the Third Age. Barad-dûr was destroyed for the final time on T.A. 25th March 3019 when Gollum took the Ring from Frodo and fell into the Cracks of Doom, the Ring was unmade and Sauron was defeated.


The Dark Tower was described as existing on a massive scale, although Tolkien does not provide much detail beyond its huge size and immense strength. The fortress was constructed with a "topmost tower" and many other towers:

"...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]

It is otherwise described as dark and surrounded in shadow, so that it could not be clearly seen. In his vision at Amon Hen, Frodo Baggins perceived the immense tower as:

"...wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant... Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron."[5]

There was an incredibly high look-out post, called the "Window of the Eye"[4] at the top of the Dark Tower. This window was visible from Mount Doom where Frodo and Sam had a terrible glimpse of the Eye of Sauron.[6]

There is a painting by Tolkien of Barad-dûr viewed from the east.[7] However since he did not publish it during his lifetime, it is unclear how close the painting is to his mature vision of the great tower. The picture shows only the left edge of the lower part of a structure that seems to be constructed of immense masonry blocks of some greyish stone. The few existing windows are small and either dark or lighted dark red; one is clearly barred. One high, thin vertical spire is visible in the background. The whole fortress seems to stand on top of a large monolithic rock with almost vertical edges and a relatively flat top. A narrow stone bridge leads across the chasm to the single visible doorway, through which flames can be seen inside the great tower. An erupting volcano (Mount Doom) can be seen in the background and what appears to be a lava stream flowing from there towards Barad-dûr.

Depiction in adaptations[edit]

In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003), Richard Taylor and his design team built a 30 ft (9 m) high miniature ("big-ature") of Barad-dûr for use in the films. Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King movie (2003) showed Barad-dûr as clearly visible from the Black Gate of Mordor. Even considering its enormous size, Barad-dûr was too far away to have been visible to Aragorn's army, also a clear view was obstructed by the inner mountain ridges of Udûn. Some of the maps of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy were altered from that in Tolkien's The Return of the King so that the inner mountain ridges of Udûn were not shown and therefore did not obstruct the view.

In the Black Gate scene, having Barad-dûr visible from the gate meant that Aragorn's army could see the Eye of Sauron staring at them. This was done because of the deleted "Aragorn versus Sauron" scene. Originally there would be a "blinding light" and Aragorn would see Annatar (Sauron's pleasant appearance that he had used to deceive the Elves in the Second Age), who would then become Sauron and attack. However, the filmmakers decided that this deviated too far from the books, so instead the blinding light scenes were used to depict a "staring contest" between Aragorn and the Eye of Sauron. Again another deleted scene in the extended edition of The Return of the King (2003) appeared to reinforce this view as it showed Sauron standing atop his tower and briefly being observed by Aragorn.

Furthermore, in the films, the Eye of Sauron was portrayed as a gigantic eye on top of the topmost tower of Barad-dûr. This took a literal interpretation of the descriptions of the Eye in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. However there are other interpretations of what Tolkien meant by the Eye and the portrayal in the films proved different to that of some Tolkien readers. This is partly because Tolkien described Sauron in a letter in 1963 in the following way:

"The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic."[8]

According to Tolkien's descriptions in The Lord of the Rings the Eye was within the ″Window of the Eye″ in the topmost tower, not floating above the tower like in Jackson's film trilogy. In the films the Eye was located between two horn-like spires that curved upwards from the tower top, these spires were an invention of the films. Further information on the form of Sauron in the Third Age and the Eye of Sauron can be found within the Sauron Appearance section, and the Sauron and Barad-dûr pages at the Thain's Book website (see External Links below). For a fuller discussion of the portrayal of Sauron in Jackson's film trilogy see the Sauron Adaptations section.


  1. ^ “Barad-dûr,” The Encyclopedia of Arda,, September 25 2008, Retrieved 16.50 Sunday October 19 2014.
  2. ^ Allan, J, (1978), “The Black Speech,” IN Allan, J, (ed.) An Introduction to Elvish, Helios: Bran’s Head Books, (reprinted 2002), (p.167), ISBN 0905220102.
  3. ^ “Barad-dûr.” The Encyclopedia of Arda. September 25 2008. Retrieved 19.30 Wednesday October 13 2014.
  4. ^ a b Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955). "Mount Doom". The Return of the King (1978 (Hardback) Impression ed.). London: George Allen and Unwin Publishers. p. 219. ISBN 0048230464. 
  5. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954). "The Breaking of the Fellowship". The Fellowship of the Ring (1978 (Hardback) Impression ed.). London: George Allen and Unwin Publishers. p. 417. ISBN 0048230464. 
  6. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955). "Mount Doom". The Return of the King (1978 (Hardback) Impression ed.). London: George Allen and Unwin Publishers. pp. 219–220. ISBN 0048230464. 
  7. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (1979 Hardback), “Picture 30 Orodruin and Barad-dûr,” Foreword and Notes by Tolkien, C. Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien, London: George Allen & Unwin, ISBN 0047410035.
  8. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981). "#246". The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (2006 ed.). London: Harper Collins Publishers. p. 332. ISBN 0261102656. 

External links[edit]