Lewis James Phillips


Gondor & Mordor

A journey from a personal perspective which has truly been a real joy.

A huge amount of research is continuously being undertaken to try and understand what regions really influenced Middle Earth from outside the shire.

We Know Tolkien visited Switzerland three years before WW1, and during this trip he may have gone south into what was known as the Austro-Hungarian Tyrol. Today, the Tyrol is very different as it is separated into three different sections: Nord-Tyrol, Sud-Tyrol and Trentino. Trentino is now part of Northeast Italy, and the history of its change of ownership has its own fascinating story. We know that Tolkien had a real passion for Italian landscapes and architectural designs by letters he wrote from his visits to the region after WW2.

It is very hard to determine if there really were any specific places that you could pin down as true locations, but that’s the beauty of folklore. Not only did this happen in the books, but in some ways, it’s happened many years after the last chapter was written.

However, after many hours of research and many hours of wandering the Alps in the Tyrol, you can start to see a possible pattern of landscape noted within the book. Tolkien is strongly linked to Italy and the Alps. The mountains we know so well today as the Dolomites (even if Tolkien went through them only from the Swiss side) with its jagged peaks, could by why Italy is seen as the inspiration for Middle-Earth, or at least a part of it, which includes Gondor.

But some say that Mount Doom may also be part of this location. Caldini di Misurina, and why not? With its stunning peaks, maybe these mountains, combined with Tolkien’s personal experience in the Battle of the Somme, created what he imagined to be the mountains of hell where the one ring was forged. This was one of the worst battles in human history and Tolkien was based in the Northern Somme region. Along with the many thousands who died there, were two of Tolkien’s very close school friends, Robert Gilson and Geoffrey Smith. Tolkien called this battle ‘hideous’, and it is often reflected deeply within his work, especially Mordor.