Osgiliath

Osgiliath served as the former capital of Gondor, situated on both banks of the Anduin River.

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“The chief city of this southern realm was Osgiliath, through the midst of which the Great River flowed; and the Númenóreans built there a great bridge, upon which there were towers and houses of stone wonderful to behold, and tall ships came up out of the sea to the quays of the city.” ~The Silmarillion

Witch King In Osgiliath

Witch King in Osgiliath

Osgiliath served as the former capital of Gondor, situated on both banks of the Anduin River. Positioned roughly midway between the southwestern city of Minas Anor and the northeastern city of Minas Ithil, it lay to the north of the adjacent Emyn Arnen.

History

Established by Isildur and Anárion in the waning years of the Second Age, Osgiliath was appointed as the capital of the southern Númenórean realm of Gondor.

In its early days, Sauron seized Minas Ithil in 3429 (Second Age) and advanced westward. While Isildur sought reinforcements from the north, Anárion defended Osgiliath. The city was freed from the threat when the Last Alliance’s army arrived, defeating Sauron. For more than a millennium, Osgiliath served as the thriving capital and largest city of Gondor.

The city’s decline began in 1437 (Third Age) during the Kin-strife, when it suffered a devastating siege, leading to its sack and burning by Castamir’s rebel forces. The loss of the Osgiliath-stone occurred during this turmoil, and the Great Plague of 1636 further decimated the population. As many fled, the city fell into ruin, prompting the relocation of the King’s House to the more secure Minas Anor in 1640 (Third Age).

Over the centuries, Gondor faced repeated defeats east of the Anduin, notably the fall of Minas Ithil in 2002. Osgiliath, once a proud city, became susceptible to attacks, its haunted reputation growing as its population dwindled. Eventually, it was abandoned in 2475 after a Uruk-hai onslaught, although they were repelled by Steward Boromir.

In the subsequent years, the western part of the ruined city remained under Gondor’s control, occasionally fortified to safeguard the Anduin crossing. The eastern portion, along with Ithilien, became a contested region, shifting between Gondor and Sauron’s forces. The occupation of Osgiliath’s eastern side in June of 3018 (Third Age) marked a significant event considered by most the start of the War of the Ring.

In March of the following year, amid the ongoing conflict, Sauron launched a massive invasion west of the Anduin. Despite the Rangers’ defense, Osgiliath fell swiftly.  It was reclaimed by Gondor after Sauron’s final defeat a few weeks later.

Post-war, Osgiliath might have been reconstructed, but it never regained its former glory. Minas Tirith retained its status as the capital and the King’s city.

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Etymology

  • Osgiliath is Sindarin
  • The name means “Citadel of the Host of Stars”
  • “Ost” means city or town, “giliath” means “host of stars”