Monday, March 7, 2011

The hidden city of Gondolin

Gondolin by John Blanche
ECTHELION SLAYS ORCOBAL - illustration by Tom Loback
Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountain a great champion of the hidden city of Gondolin, who also later slew Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, Captain of the Hosts of Angband as told in 'The Fall of Gondolin' in Lost Tales II.
Down below the Tumladen Vale
And up above a ring of shale,
High walls of cliffs so very sheer
Protects a city shining; Dear.

They live undaunted for fear of foe
And live their lives nay gripped by woe.
The Founding of Gondolin
Turgon, the King of Gondolin, was son of Fingolfin and younger brother to Fingon. He ruled in the land of Nevrast for some time until the day when Ulmo led him to the valley known as Tumladen, concealed within the mighty encircling mountains. Here, the magnificent beauty that had been carved many a year ago bewildered him. Turgon desired to build a hidden city upon the small hill that lay in the middle of the valley - Amon Gwareth.

Fifty-two years in the making, the city stood as a hidden pinnacle of might and home to many of the Noldor and Sindar that traveled from Nevrast. Turgon named the city Ondolinde- ‘The Rock of the Music of Water’ for the fountains and springs from Amon Gwareth ran like a beautiful music which echoed in the valley of Tumladen; yet the Sindar dubbed the city Gondolin ‘The Hidden Rock’ of which its foundations were based. The city was nearly as great as that of Tirion - the city of the elves of Aman...

The Surrounding Land
Gondolin was set in a secret valley among the Echoriath; the Encircling Mountains. The southernmost of these mountains were named the Crissaegrim, for this is where the eagles of Manwë dwelt. The valley was named the Vale of Tumladen, and in its centre stood a flat-topped hill called Amon Gwareth, or the Hill of Watch, which rose 400 feet from the valley floor. The sides of the hill were steep and almost impossible to climb, especially towards the north.

Ulmos Prophecy
Ulmo was a Valar - the Lord of the waters. He loved the Noldor and protected them from the shadows of the North. Very rarely did Ulmo appear in front of the elves and less so in front of men! It was Ulmo who suggested to Turgon to move his people from the land of Nevrast and seek refuge by building a city concealed from Morgoths eyes. Once built Ulmo foretold to Turgon:
‘Remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the Sea. When Peril is nigh one shall come from Nevrast to warn thee…’

The Hidden Way
The only way to reach Gondolin on foot was to locate the Hidden Way, a tunnel in the Echoriath that was protected by Ulmo so that only those of the Gondolin could find it. The tunnel was originally excavated by the river that flowed out of the Vale of Tumladen. It was eventually enlarged slightly by the Gondolindrim so that the Elves could pass through it. At the end of the tunnel, but still underground, lay the first of the Seven Gates of Gondolin.

The City of Gondolin
The city was built of stone and was filled with houses, fountains and paved streets. It was dominated by the Tower of Turgon that rose 400 feet above the city in the central square in front of the palace. The streets of Gondolin were wide and paved with marble and many gardens produced a splendid colour. The fountains were plentiful not only in the squares but in houses and courtyards. The fountain in the King’s Square was the greatest of all.

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