Minas Ithil ~ The Tower of the Rising Moon
“Minas Ithil was tall and fair, built on the banks of the river Ithilduin
on a bastion of rock, sent down from the Mountains of Shadow. The vale in which the city lay was lush
and fertile, and as it drew eastward narrowed into a pass over the mountains.”
This page written and edited by our Dark Historian Grievous
Minas Morgul was not always a city of dread. Once it was Minas Ithil, the fair city of Isildur, built in the early days of Gondor. Its origins lie in the late Second Age, after the Downfall of Númenor and the foundation of the Númenorean Realms in Exile. In those days the realm of Gondor was young, and co-ruled by Isildur and his brother, Anárion. They built Osgiliath, the great capital city of their realm, on both sides of the River Anduin, where many of their folk dwelled. And each of the brothers built a city on either side, each strong and fair. West of the Anduin, in south-eastern Anórien at the feet of Mount Mindolluin, Anárion built Minas Anór, the Tower of the Setting Sun. Across the river in Ithilien, Isildur found a vale in the Mountains of Shadow, and there built Minas Ithil, the Tower of the Rising Moon.
Minas Ithil was tall and fair, built on the banks of the river Ithilduin on a bastion of rock, sent down from the Mountains of Shadow. The vale in which the city lay was lush and fertile, and as it drew eastward narrowed into a pass over the mountains. Minas Ithil itself was built of white marble, cunningly made so that moonlight shone through and illuminated the city with a beautiful white light. Due to Minas Ithil’s proximity to Mordor, Isildur’s City was built with great double walls featuring triangular piers for added defendability. The city was built with two sections: an outer section where much of the population resided, and an inner section with opulent mansions for Ithilien’s richer inhabitants. From the center of the city rose the Tower of the Moon, a tall tower home to Isildur and the leaders of the city, which contained the Palantír of Minas Ithil.
As Gondor grew, Minas Ithil thrived. Yet the realm of his enemies soon became known to Sauron, and he prepared an attack. An army of Orcs came through the Ithil Pass, and in a surprise assault captured Minas Ithil. They burned the White Tree that Isildur had planted there, though a sapling was saved and later planted in Minas Anór. The generals of Mordor used Minas Ithil as their forward base, and coordinated an attack on Gondor from it, which lasted until the War of the Last Alliance, when Anárion recaptured the city at the start of the war. In that was Sauron was defeated and his servants scattered. In the aftermath Minas Ithil was quickly rebuilt by Gondor, as its people returned in great numbers. In a few short months the City of Isildur was thriving again under the kingdom of Gondor, which was now more powerful than ever.
Over the next two thousand years, Minas Ithil grew constantly in power and wealth. Ithilien became a fair country of many people, and Minas Ithil was its chief city. From it also was commanded the guard on the walls of Mordor, and the commanders of the fortresses Gondor built on the Mountains of Shadow reported to the lords of Minas Ithil. Yet as conflict spread through Gondor, Minas Ithil declined. The watch on Mordor slept, and the people of Ithilien decreased after the attacks of the Wainriders and the Great Plague.
Two thousand years after Sauron’s defeat, the Nazgûl returned to Mordor and rallied armies to themselves in secret. The abandoned fortresses on the walls of Mordor were occupied, and the Witch-King of Angmar, the Black Captain of the Nazgûl, prepared to attack Minas Ithil. In TA 2000 thee storm finally broke. A horde of Orcs came over the pass and besieged Minas Ithil, and their numbers grew as more fell things were called back to Mordor. They were led personally by the Nazgûl, the Nine Ringwraiths, and under them none could defeat the armies of Mordor.
For two years Minas Ithil was besieged, and the Men of Gondor that defended it could not hold off the Nazgûl for long. Though reinforcements from Gondor failed to break the siege of the city, the people of Minas Ithil held out for as long as they could. Over a year into the siege the attacking army at last breached the gates of Isildur’s City, and slowly conquered parts of the outer city over the course of a year, killing all the inhabitants. Two years after the start of the siege, the Witch-King himself led a charge that breached the gates of the Inner City, and the Orcs swarmed in, slaughtering all the defenders and civilians as well. The Nazgûl stormed the Tower of the Moon, and left none alive. They took the city for their own to dwell in, and it was renamed Minas Morgul, the Tower of Dark Sorcery.