The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
I 116 - I 510 (endured 394 years)
North of Beleriand and west of Dorthonion, within the Encircling Mountains
Raised in secret by Turgon while his people dwelt in Nevrast
Ruled by Turgon of the House of Fingolfin
Important peaks
Surrounded and concealed by the Encircling Mountains of the Echoriath; the city was raised on the hill of Amon Gwareth
The only entry to the city was via the old Dry River that led to the guarded pass of the Orfalch Echor
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 9 May 2023
  • This entry is complete


Rock of the Music of Water

Map of Ondolindë

Turgon son of Fingolfin was guided to the hidden vale of Tumladen by the Vala Ulmo, and there he found a green plain with an island of rock rising from its centre. That hill, Amon Gwareth, had many springs on its rocky sides, from which streams ran down in a music of flowing water. On this hill of fountains Turgon set about building a new city, concealed from all by the fence of the Encircling Mountains.

This great work took more than fifty years to complete, but at last Turgon brought his people in secret from Nevrast, the land where they had been dwelling, into the new city. Turgon was one of the Noldor who had pursued Morgoth back into Middle-earth from Valinor, and he chose a name for his new city in Quenya, the language of the Elves in the Undying Lands. From the many fountains on the rock of Amon Gwareth, he chose the name Ondolindë, the 'Rock of the Music of Water'.

In Beleriand, however, the Sindarin or Grey-elven tongue was spoken far more widely than Quenya, and in that language the sounds of city's name took on a new meaning. In Sindarin, the name could be heard as Gondolin, meaning 'Hidden Rock'.1 Though not apparently intended by Turgon, that name was well suited to the concealed city, and it is as Gondolin that the city's name was almost universally recorded in the histories of the First Age.

Ondonlindë was not the city's only name, and in fact there were famously Seven Names of Gondolin, though for the purposes of this count of Seven, Ondolindë and Gondolin are treated as variations on a single name. The other six names of the city are recorded as Gar Thurion, Gondobar, Gondothlimbar, Gwarestrin, Loth and Lothengriol.



We are not specifically told when this change in the name took place, nor who was responsible. In the tale told in The Silmarillion, the change from Ondolindë to Gondolin is described immediately after Turgon's choice of the original name, and thus the most natural reading would be that the change happened rapidly within Gondolin itself. That scenario is made all the more plausible because there were many Sindar living within the city, so it would be understandable for them to adapt the name to their own language.

It is not categorically stated, however, that the change occurred immediately after the city's naming, nor that it happened within the city itself. On an alternative reading, Turgon's original name of Ondolindë might have been regularly used by the inhabitants of the Hidden City, with the change only coming later when historians recorded its tales and gave it a more natural name in the more prevalent Sindarin tongue.


About this entry:

  • Updated 9 May 2023
  • This entry is complete

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