J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is one of the most well respected pieces of fantasy literature for a reason. Not only do its characters, themes, and wonderful prose continue to resonate with readers decades after its first publication but the world Tolkien created, Middle-earth, feels so real that many readers have desperately wanted to be there since being drawn in through the first lines of The Fellowship of the Ring. Here are some of the best locations throughout Middle-earth, each breathtaking in its imagined beauty.
1. THE SHIRE
A loosely organized set of territories nestled in northwest Middle-earth, the Shire is home to the hobbits and the place where Frodo Baggins, Bilbo Baggins, and Samwise Gamgee call home. Defined by lush wilderness and agriculture, the Shire is isolated from the rest of Middle-earth but it is that determination to keep it safe which motivates Frodo and Sam to keep it safe throughout their long quest to destroy the One Ring. The Shire begins our introduction to the world of Middle-earth and its a place that we, much like Frodo and Bilbo, always wish to return to.
A haven for the elves in the midst of the Misty Mountains, this place is where the Fellowship of the Ring is formed during the Council of Elrond. Rivendell is a valley, surrounded by pine-trees and maintained as a hidden place. Rivendell features a cool, temperate climate. Uniquely, Rivendell is not affected by time, allowing Elrond and his people to live free of the vestiges of time, in peace but at the same time, somewhat stagnant. Playing an important role throughout the books, Rivendell’s time comes to an end when the One Ring is destroyed, the elves leaving Rivendell and heading to the Grey Havens across the seas.
The great fortress of Isengard plays a pivotal role in the books, being the residence of Saruman and his orc army. Saruman defiles the valley around Isengard, cutting down trees and burning the land. Within Isengard, the fortress burns with the smolders of war, as countless Orcs are bred, given armor and weapons to conquer the land of Rohan. The Ents, angered at Saruman’s contempt for nature, storm the fortress in the famous March of the Ents, routing Saruman’s army and stopping his dreams of conquest in their tracks. Isengard remains a pivotal symbol of evil, being one of the titular Two Towers.
Home to the dwarves, Moria, otherwise known as Khazad-dûm, lies deep in the Misty Mountains. There, the dwarves mined the rare material minthril but they dug too deep and free an ancient, powerful monster known as a Balrog. The dwarves are forced to abandon their home and consider the tunnels cursed. The Fellowship is forced to pass through Moria during their travels and here, they meet the Balrog. Gandalf duels the monster on the bridge of Khazad-dûm but the Balrog drags him down into the abyss when he destroys the bridge, forcing the quest to continue without the wise wizard.
Barad-dûr, otherwise known as the Dark Tower, is the second of the titular Two Towers. It is the fortress of the Dark Lord Sauron, acting as his stronghold in the barren wasteland of Mordor. Sauron keeps watch over his land via his great eye, the Eye of Sauron, acting as a symbol of his evil. The fortress itself is described as huge and utterly impenetrable. Held together via Sauron’s magic, it falls to ruin when the One Ring is destroyed, again symbolizing Sauron’s own fall.
What are some of your favorite Lord of the Rings locations? Tell us in the comments!