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Built early in the history of Gondor, probably in II 3320 or shortly thereafter; at least partly destroyed in III 1437
Osgiliath on Anduin, the old chief city of Gondor
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 1 October 2022
  • Updates planned: 1

Dome of Stars

The great hall of Osgiliath

The great dome that lay in the heart of the ancient Gondorian capital, Osgiliath, and from which that city took its name. Beneath the dome was a Great Hall, in which was held the Master Stone, most powerful of the palantíri in Middle-earth. The hall also seems to have served as the royal throne room of Gondor, at least in the time when Isildur and Anárion jointly ruled the South-kingdom.1

The name 'Dome of Stars' came from the fact that the interior of the dome was decorated with patterns of stars from the night sky. These decorations were significant enough that they named not only the dome, but also the city in which it stood: Osgiliath meant 'Citadel of the Stars' in reference to the Dome of Stars. Beyond its domed structure, the architecture of this building is not described in detail, but we have several references to a Tower of the Dome, so either the dome surmounted a tower, or it had a tower otherwise connected to its structure.2

The Dome stood beside the Great River in Osgiliath for some fifteen centuries, from the founding of the city until the time of Castamir's rebellion. When Eldacar son of Valacar ascended to the throne, the fact that he did not have pure Númenórean blood sparked outrage among some Gondorians, to the extent that they led a rebellion against the rightful King. In III 1437, these rebels besieged the King in Osgiliath, and in the fighting that followed, much of the city was ruined. The Tower that held the palantír was broken, and the Seeing-stone was lost in Anduin. As that Tower was evidently connected to the dome, it would seem that the Dome of Stars itself must have been greatly damaged, and possibly destroyed. Whatever its fate in the fighting, we hear no more of it in the histories of the time.



The association of the Master Stone with the Dome of Stars is explicit, but the dome's purpose as a throne room is less certain. In Tolkien's unfinished full index to The Lord of the Rings, he describes the dome as the 'the great domed hall of old in Osgiliath', while the thrones of Isildur and Anárion are stated in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age as standing in the Great Hall of Osgiliath. The 'great domed hall' and the Great Hall were presumably the same place, though this not stated outright.


To complicate matters further, different editions of The Lord of the Rings describe the Tower of the Dome in different ways. In early editions, it is the 'Tower of the Stone of Osgiliath' (by which reading it clearly held the palantír but was possibly separate from the Dome of Stars). This was later amended (by Tolkien's express intention) to the 'Tower of the Dome of Osgiliath', which definitively establishes some kind of relationship between the Dome and the Tower. If the textual situation were not complex enough, certain editions also give the 'Tower of the Dome of Osgiliath' as simply the 'Dome of Osgiliath', though this appears to be a simple printer's error.


About this entry:

  • Updated 1 October 2022
  • Updates planned: 1

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