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J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location
Typerealm of the Elves
hidden refuge
RulerAmdír, Amroth (Second Age), Celeborn and Galadriel (Second and Third Ages)
Notable locationsCaras Galadhon, Cerin Amroth, Egladil, the Nimrodel, the Silverlode
Other name(s)Lórien
the Golden Wood
the Hidden Land
Locationwestern Wilderland
LifespanFounded circa S.A. 1350[1]
Abandoned by F.A. 119[2]
CapitalCaras Galadhon

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Lothlórien or Lórien is the fairest realm of the Elves remaining in Middle-earth during the Third Age.[3]

The realm, a broad woodland valley, plays an important part in The Lord of the Rings[4] as the Elven centre of resistance against Sauron and is a symbol for the Elves' aesthetics of preservation[5] which provides a space 'out of time' for the characters who both live and visit there.[6] With Lothlórien, Tolkien reconciles otherwise conflicting ideas regarding time-distortion in Elfland from various traditional sources such as Thomas the Rhymer (13th/14th century) and the Danish folk-play Elverhøj (1828).[7]


Tolkien gave the same forest many different names:

Name Meaning Origin
Lindórinand Valley of the Land of the Singers[8] Older Nandorin name of the area
Lórinand Valley of Gold[8] Nandorin name after introduction of mallorn trees
Laurelindórenan Valley of Singing Gold[8] Sindarin name after introduction of mallorn trees
Lothlórien The Dreamflower[9] Sindarin name in the Third Age
Lórien Dream Land[9] Shortened form of Lothlórien matching the name of the Gardens of Lórien in Aman

The form Lórinand was also rendered in Quenya as Laurenandë and in Sindarin as Glornan or Nan Laur, all of the same meaning.[8] Other, later names given to the land included the much later Rohirric name Dwimordene (from dwimor "phantom", an allusion to the perceived magic of the Elves), and the Westron name the Golden Wood.


Early in the First Age some of the Eldar left the Great March and settled in the lands east of the Misty Mountains. These elves became known as the Nandor and later the Silvan Elves. By S.A. 1200 Galadriel had made contact with an existing Nandorin realm, Lindórinand, in the area that would later be known as Lothlórien,[8] and planted there the golden mallorn trees which Gil-galad had received as a gift from Tar-Aldarion.[10]

The culture and knowledge of the Silvan elves was considerably enriched by the arrival of Sindarin Elves from west of the mountains and even the Silvan language was gradually replaced by Sindarin. Amongst these arrivals was Amdír, who became their first lord, as well as Galadriel and Celeborn, who also crossed the mountains and the Anduin to join these southern Nandor after the destruction of Eregion during the War of the Elves and Sauron. Ultimately, Amdír led an army out of the forest as part of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, just as Oropher, another Sindarin lord, led the Silvan Elves of the north in the same victory over Sauron, so it can be assumed that both northern and southern woodland realms had been founded by then.

With the gradual return of Sauron's malign influence to the forest east of Anduin, the northern Silvan Elves led by Thranduil son of Oropher (and father of Legolas), moved even further north to escape it, and those of the south returned west across the Anduin, although without their last Sindarin lord Amroth son of Amdír, who departed to Edhellond after his lover Nimrodel had fled there.

It was later revealed that Galadriel's Ring enriched the land by preserving its flora from death and decay, and in wielding it she created a powerful ward against all creatures of evil intent: in fact, the only way that Galadriel's Lothlórien could have been conquered by Mordor is if Sauron himself, the master of all the Rings of Power, had gone there.

Following the departure of Galadriel for Valinor at the beginning of the Fourth Age, the Elves of Lothlórien were ruled by Celeborn alone, who led them across the Anduin to found a new, larger realm, East Lórien, centred on Amon Lanc. By the time of the death of Queen Arwen, Celeborn and Galadriel's granddaughter, Lothlórien itself was deserted.


Lothlórien was located in the west of the large region of Wilderland. On its west stood the great Misty Mountains, and on its east ran the great river Anduin. The fabulous Dwarf-realm of Moria was situated nearby to the north-west, at the entrance to routes through the Misty Mountains. Across the Anduin lay the vast forest of Mirkwood and the fortress of Dol Guldur; these could be glimpsed from high points in Lothlórien.

The river Silverlode flowed through Lothlórien until it flowed into the Anduin. The realm lay primarily to the north of the Silverlode, other than the small strip of forested land to the south. The main part of the realm was the region called the Naith (Sindarin for spearhead)[11] by the Elves or the Gore in Westron; this was a reference to the shape of the land between the converging rivers. The narrowest portion of the Naith, where the two rivers came together, was called Egladil (possibly (S. 'egol'=elf, 'till'=point)),[12] or the Angle,[4] or the Tongue. Caras Galadhon, a city of great trees and the capital of Lothlórien, stood "some ten miles" back from the point.[13]

The Elves of Lothlórien typically resided in flets, or tree-houses. These ranged from simple guard-posts on the borders to elaborate houses and halls in Caras Galadhon.


For thousands of years Lothlórien had an unnatural climate. Essentially the weather remained in perpetual Spring, regardless of the change of seasons in the surrounding lands. This feature, which was ascribed to the magical power of Elves, was experienced by the Fellowship of the Ring. When the Elves left Lothlórien in the early Fourth Age, the climate reverted to that of the surrounding areas.

Despite the unnatural climate of Lothlórien, the annual cycles of its mallorn trees continued in synchronization with the normal seasons outside Lothlórien.

Caras Galadhon[edit]

Caras Galadhon
J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location
First appearanceThe Fellowship of the Ring
Unfinished Tales
TypeChief city of Lothlórien
Residence of Galadriel and Celeborn
City sustained by Trees
later Galadriel and Celeborn
Other name(s)City of the Trees

In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Caras Galadhon (pronounced [ˈkaras ˈɡalaðon]) is a fictional city in his work The Lord of the Rings. It appears mostly in The Fellowship of the Ring, but it is also mentioned in the Appendices of The Return of the King.

Built deep in the Forest Realm of Lothlórien, the city was created in the middle of, on top of, and out of mallorn, a type of tree originally brought to that land by Galadriel.

After the city was built by Amroth in the Third Age, it quickly became the most populated place of Lothlórien and by the end of that age also became the most important settlement of the Galadhrim in Middle-earth.

In the first edition of The Lord of the Rings, Caras Galadhon was spelt as Caras Galadon, but the "h" was later added to distinguish two roots in Sindarin (one of the languages invented by Tolkien): galad ("light") and galadh ("tree").


As with the case of the forest surrounding it, Tolkien also gave the city several names:

Name Meaning Origin
Caras Galadhon Fortress[14] of Trees [15] Sindarin name used during the Third Age
Caras Fortress[14][15] Shortened form of Caras Galadhon
Nelennas The Gore[16] Ancient name of the City

Outside of Lothlórien or any other Elven settlement, the Westron (Common Speech used by most Men and Hobbits during the Third Age) variant of Caras Galadhon, City of Trees, was also widely used amongst Men to talk about the city.


The city was built amidst the forest of Lothlórien, "some ten miles" from the point where the rivers Celebrant and Anduin met,[17] close to the eastern border of the realm. Although its position near the end of Egladil ("the Angle", the name given to the lands between the two rivers and location of the forest), and consequently near the Anduin, favoured communication through Middle-earth, it made the city more vulnerable to attacks from Dol Guldur, a fortress of Sauron to the east of Caras Galadhon, something which eventually happened during the War of the Ring. It is thought that the city was constructed to prevent such an event,[15] but Tolkien never included an explanation for it in his books or appendices. The city was also called "the City of Light and Song".


The city of Caras Galadhon was constructed in and around its massive trees, which gave it its common name (see above). In the trees there were many telain,[18] tree-platforms which could be elaborate dwellings or simple guard-posts.

To help navigation in the city, stairways of ladders were built around the main trees, and at night the city was lit by "many lamps" - "green and gold and silver".[19]

The city had no entrance on the north,[20] so when the Fellowship arrived from that direction, they were guided along the white road which surrounded the city and its moat, and thus came to the southern part of Caras Galadhon, where the city's gate was found.

Other interesting places inside the city were Caras Galadhon's fountain, the palace of Galadriel and Celeborn, and the Mirror of Galadriel. Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee visited all these places during their one-month stay in Caras Galadhon.


Third Age

It is long indeed since we saw one of Durin's folk in Caras Galadhon.

— Celeborn, Lord of the Galadhrim[20]

Although there is no substantial information regarding Caras Galadhon's chronological origin, Celeborn's statement seems to indicate that the city had already been built when Dwarves fled from Khazad-dûm after unleashing the Balrog known as Durin's Bane, in the year 1981 of the Third Age.

In that same year, Amroth, the former Lord of Lothlórien, went to the south of Middle-earth with his beloved Nimrodel, but drowned in the Bay of Belfalas after she went missing in the Ered Nimrais and never returned home. After this loss, the control of Lothlórien passed to Galadriel and Celeborn, which suggests they were in Caras Galadhon at the time these two events happened.

War of the Ring

As the War of the Ring loomed, the Fellowship of the Ring was brought through Lothlórien to Caras Galadhon, and there met the Lord and Lady of the Galadhrim.[20] The Fellowship spent roughly a month at Caras Galadhon (between 17th 'January' 3019 and 16th 'February' of the same year).

When the War broke out in earnest, Sauron besieged Minas Tirith, and around the same time his forces from Dol Guldur also besieged Lothlórien too. Lothlórien was attacked three times:[21]

  • The first, during 11th 'March' 3019 (this was the day before Frodo entered Shelob's lair);
  • The second battle happened four days later, on the same day of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields;
  • The last occurred on 22nd 'March', three days before the destruction of the One Ring.

These three attacks were able to ruin several parts of the forest, mostly the borders to the north and east (which were more exposed to Dol Guldur's strength), but also the west border was hindered, because the main force was helped by Orcs from Moria. However there is no record that Caras Galadhon itself was affected.

After the fall of Sauron, Galadriel and Celeborn marched to Dol Guldur and managed to rid it from Sauron's past influence. By the beginning of the Fourth Age, the place which was previously Sauron's stronghold was renamed Amon Lanc and became part of Celeborn's East Lórien realm.

Fourth Age and Beyond

When the War of the Ring ended and Dol Guldur was destroyed, Caras Galadhon became the capital of a much wider realm, which now extended to east of the river Anduin and included southern Mirkwood.[22] After Galadriel left for Valinor at the end of the Third Age, the extended realm was ruled solely by Celeborn. Its new province was called East Lórien by the Galadhrim who lived there.

However, the city slowly became depopulated after Galadriel's absence, and Celeborn left the city for Rivendell after a while and supposedly to Valinor later. At the time of the War of the Ring, Caras Galadhon had been described as a "great city" where thousands of Silvan Elves lived, but by the time of Aragorn Elessar's death (the year 120 of the Fourth Age), the land of Lórien was reported as being "silent"[21] and Caras Galadhon was wholly abandoned. This means that the Silvan Elves deserted it, either for Mirkwood or Valinor, although the latter seems to be a vague option, because the ships that were prepared by Círdan and the last of the elves of Lindon, were the last known instances of elves crossing to Valinor (barring Legolas and possibly Gimli's journey to Valinor).[23][24]


As well as inspiring real-world places,[vague] Lothlórien has been depicted in other media.

In the Middle-earth Role Playing supplement Lórien and the Halls of the Elven Smiths (Iron Crown Enterprises, 1986), Lórien society is divided into several guilds, or "Glades" with each one taking a specific craft (such as baking, weaving or hunting). The hidden nature of the place is accorded to effects of the ring Nenya, and Elessar, the elf-stone—which are both said to slow the effects of time. Its particular geographic position, being sheltered by the Misty Mountains from storms, and the environmental effect of mallorn trees (which do not lose their leaves and so provide constant shelter from the elements all year round) are also claimed to cause a reduction in the effect of the passing seasons.

In The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria, Lorien was a region introduced to the game in March 2009, which allows players to visit Caras Galadhon and other locations, and complete quests from the elves.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Unfinished Tales 1980, History of Galadriel and Celeborn, pg 237)
  2. ^ (Return of the King 1955, Appendix A.I.v, The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen)
  3. ^ Plechowicz,Sue. Classworks Literacy: Year 4 Nelson Thomas, 2004, p142-146
  4. ^ a b (Fellowship 1954a, Lothlórien, The Mirror of Galadriel)
  5. ^ Matthew T. Dickerson, Jonathan Evans. Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J. R. R. Tolkien University Press of Kentucky 2004
  6. ^ Flieger, Verlyn (1997). "Over a Bridge of Time". A Question of Time. Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-699-X.
  7. ^ Shippey, Tom: Tolkien: Author of the Century, Harper Collins, 2000, p.89
  8. ^ a b c d e (Unfinished Tales 1980, History of Galadriel and Celeborn, note 5)
  9. ^ a b (Hammond & Scull 2005, note for pg 335, Lothlórien)
  10. ^ (Unfinished Tales 1980, A Description of Númenor)
  11. ^ (The Lost Road 1987, Etymologies, SNAS)
  12. ^ (Salo 2004)
  13. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd edition (1966) George Allen & Unwin, book 2 ch. VIII p.387; ISBN 0 04 823045 6
  14. ^ a b The Sindarin noun Caras was used by Silvan Elves to indicate a fortress, most precisely one surrounded by a watercourse.
  15. ^ a b c Encyclopedia of Arda Article on Caras Galadhon Archived 2007-10-26 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ This name is also used concerning the whole portion of Lórien near the junction of the rivers Celebrant and Anduin.
  17. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd edition (1966) George Allen & Unwin, book 1 ch. VIII p.387; ISBN 0 04 823045 6
  18. ^ Talan (plural telain) is the Sindarin noun for the structures [J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. IV p.245; ISBN 9780048231796]. In Westron, they were called flets.
  19. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd edition (1966) George Allen & Unwin, book 2 ch. VII p.368; ISBN 0 04 823045 6
  20. ^ a b c Tolkien, J. R. R.(April 1, 1987), The Fellowship of the Ring, vol. 1, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "The Mirror of Galadriel", ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  21. ^ a b Tolkien, J. R. R. (April 1, 1987), The Return of the King, vol. 3, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, "Appendix B - The Tale of the Years (Chronology of the Westlands)", ISBN 0-395-08256-0
  22. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966) George Allen & Unwin, Appendix B 'The Great Years' p.375; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  23. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (April 1, 1987), The Fellowship of the Ring, vol. 1, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  24. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (April 1, 1987), The Return of the King, vol. 3, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-08256-0
  25. ^ [1] Book 7: Leaves of Lorien


External links[edit]