10 Best Places to Live in Middle Earth
A Real Estate Guide for the Free Peoples
Middle-earth has it all: sleepy green farmlands, rugged mountains, spider-infested forests, volcanic deserts and seven-star cities with classic architecture.
There's so many fabulous places to live in the Western Lands. So, how do you choose your dream location in Middle-earth? This handy guide will help you narrow down your search!
P.S. Act now! For a limited time only, Ennorath Enterprises will wave all closing costs for properties in the Mines of Moria!
Hobbiton, In the Shire
Photo Credit: Rob Chandler, CC
The Western Edge of Middle-Earth (First Age Only)
Photo Credit: Cod Gabriel, Flickr, CCCities: Gondolin, Nargothrond (Elves)
Forests: Doriath (Elves), Brethil (Men)
Landmarks: River Sirion (great rafting), Plain of Anfauglith ("Gasping Dust," battles fought here), Fortress of Angband (eek!), Girdle of Melian (woo-woo!)Vintage real estate ads from the First Age boast, "Everything's Bigger in Beleriand!" The trees were taller, the mountains higher, the lakes bluer, the music better, the cities more glorious, the technology more advanced, and the Elves hotter. All the places in Middle-earth you know about? Didn't exist yet, or nobody cared about them.
Unfortunately, Beleriand's Evil Overlord Morgoth was also bigger and badder: Sauron was just his servant. Morgoth conquered, annexed, or destroyed all the prime real estate. At the end of the First Age, the Valar poked their heads out from the Undying Lands, hit the Delete button, and covered Beleriand with the Great Sea. All of Beleriand is now drowned off the west coast of Middle-earth.
Pros of Living in Beleriand: Cooler Elves, incredibly advanced civilizations with magical and beautiful cities, lots of pristine wilderness and spectacular scenery. Frequent royalty sightings like Good King Finrod, Earendil, King Thingol and Luthien Tinuviel.
Cons of Living in Beleriand: Evil Overlord x 100. Slavery, periodic massacres, constant wars and betrayals. Under water (post-first-Age). Distressing lack of Hobbits.
West of the Misty Mountains
Photo Credit: Kiwi Mikex, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Bree, Hobbiton, Fornost (destroyed), Rivendell (Hidden), Grey Havens
Forests: The Old Forest
Landmarks: Weathertop (great view!), Gates of Moria (bring snorkeling gear), Elf Towers (don't miss the Palantir!), Barrow-downs (guide recommended)With Beleriand underwater, Eriador became beachfront property. It extends all the way from the western sea to the Misty Mountains. Long neglected by historians and real estate agents as the boondocks, Eriador actually boasts the greatest variety of races, places, and things to see. About the only thing it's missing is giant spiders.
Enjoy the old-world seaport charm of the Grey Havens, where the Elves set sail to Undying Lands -- play "spot the celebrity" down by the docks! Or settle in the comfortable town of Bree, conveniently close to the Prancing Pony Inn (best ale east of the Shire) where you may hear traveler's tales from distant lands without having to leave home! Or do you like roughing it? Shack up with the Rangers in the ruins of the vanished northern Kingdom of Arnor, with its broken towers, standing stones and rich barrows crammed with gold (and wights, oops)! There's plenty of wilderness for hearty adventurers who like to get away from it all.
Pros of Living in Eriador: Far away from wars and urban sprawl. Good beer and ale. Hobbits, Good place to mingle with Rangers, Elves, even Dwarves and Orcs. No taxes.
Cons of Living in Eriador: Few roads, little infrastructure. Backwater, rural region. Rest stops few and far between. Trolls and goblins waylay travelers. Evil trees, nasty midges.
Note: See below for The Shire.
While the King's Away, the Stewards Play!
Photo Credit: Paco Esteban, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Minas Tirith, port of Pelargir, Dol Amroth, Osgiliath (destroyed)
Forests: Ithilien, Druadan
Landmarks: White Tower of Ecthelion, seven streams of Lebennin, Stone of ErechLet's face it, Gondor is the most civilized place left in Middle-earth.
In Minas Tirith, you've got an old-world city (think Númenor) with new-world amenities. Rent an apartment in the Lampwright's District for easy access to the pubs and the pleasant parklands of the Pelennor just outside the city, or buy a posh uptown residence with a gated atrium, marble floors and elegant stained glass. There's plenty of business opportunities. Minas Tirth boasts a robust civil defense force, law courts, world-class Houses of Healing, excellent libraries and top-notch schools with instruction in Westron, Sindarin and Quenya for the budding scholar or prince.
If the urban lifestyle doesn't suit you, set up shop in the thriving port-town of Pelargir, the gracious fiefdom of Dol Amroth by the sea, or find yourself a cozy cottage in the White Mountains. Painters, farmers, and outdoors types will love the lonely heaths, flowering meads and good tillage of the sea-coast of Lebennin.
Pros of Living in Gondor: Functional government and infrastructure, modern cities, commerce and business opportunities, plenty of coastal real estate.
Cons of Living in Gondor: Frequent attacks from Mordor; occasional invasions by wainriders, pirates and Oliphaunt riders; lots of laws and regulations; something of a protection racket by the Ruling Stewards.
The Woodland Realm
Photo Credit: Chris Bennett, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Cottages of Woodmen, Elvenking's Hall
Forests: It IS a Forest
Landmarks:Enchanted River, Mountains of Mirkwood, Dol Guldur (summer home of Sauron a.k.a. "The Necromancer")Mirkwood, formerly Greenwood the Great, is the place to go if you want to get away from snooty High Elves, from weirdos like Galadriel and Celeborn, and from the exhausting high society life in all the "big" Elf-kingdoms (most of which are now flooded). In Mirkwood, you'll enjoy forest feasts and hunting with the Elvenking, sample wine from Dorwinion and cheeses from Lake-town. It's a carefree life among the forest Elves, unless of course you're a dwarf.
Or, if you like sheep, or if you're a lumberjack (and you're okay), move in with the Woodmen down south and build your very own log cabin.
Mirkwood's getting a bit musty, due to pollution from that eyesore to the south (Sauron's summer home), but as long as you stick with the Elves and Woodmen, you should be safe.
Pros of Living in Mirkwood: Pretty Elves, forest glades, feasts, hunting, Legolas.
Cons of Living in Mirkwood: Necromancer's poisoned the whole southern part of the woods; giant spiders.
Lake Town (a.k.a. Esgaroth)
A Thriving Trade Hub in the Middle of Nowhere
Where: Lake Town
Where the Shadows Lie
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Longfellow, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Lake Town, Dale (destroyed)
Forests: Mirkwood a few days away
Landmarks: Lonely Mountain, Desolation of SmaugWe're not quite sure why, but Lake Town on the Long Lake is the best place to be if you're engaged in commerce, trade and shipping. Wine, cheese, apples and other produce come up from the Sea of Rhûn to the southeast; savvy Lake Town middlemen trade these goods to the Elves of Mirkwood for handicrafts, lumber, and venison (make sure it's not spider meat).
In truth, Lake Town is not as prosperous as old Dale, the previous town that Smaug the dragon wiped out three generations ago. There's been a local recession since the nearby Dwarf colony (they grandly called it a kingdom) under the Lonely Mountain was evicted by the dragon. There's no gold and jewels coming down to the lake in exchange for produce and dry goods. Still, the east and west trade routes are stable, the Wood-elves are good allies, and there's always hope the King Under the Mountain may come again, along with his heavy-spending Dwarvish buddies. In the meantime, maybe you'll be the first to open trade relations with the Dwarves in the Iron Hills up north.
Pros of Living in Lake Town: Make a bundle as a merchant and middleman. Rub shoulders with Wood-elves (woo!). Beautiful location with nice sunsets on the lake.
Cons of Living in Lake Town: Dragon to the north means high insurance costs. Master of Lake Town rumored to be pocketing tariffs.
Photo Credit: Islomanic, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Minas Morgul
Fortresses: Barad-dûr, Cirith Ungol
Landmarks: The Black Gate, Cracks of Doom, Shelob's LairThe land of Mordor is not for the timid. But if your idea of a brisk hike is a forced march across a choking desert of slag and blasted rock, if you think live volcanoes make an awesome patio backdrop, or if your taste in décor runs to gargoyles, spikes and iron gates, Mordor is the place to be.
Labor camps around the Sea of Nûrnen are always in need of enterprising overseers. Torture pits provide exciting opportunities for masochists with a steady hand on chain, rack and whip. And Sauron's weapons labs and industrial workshops are state-of-the-art, with the latest improvements in automation and chemical equipment! Plus, you never have to weed your back yard.
Pros of Living in Mordor: Slave labor, kickass décor, active volcano, watching Shelob play with her food.
Cons of Living in Mordor: Becoming slave labor, being nailed to the décor, losing your home to an active volcano, being fed to Shelob.
Lórien / Lothlórien
Under New Management
Where: Forest of Lothlórien
Photo Credit: Garlandcannon, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Caras Galadhon
Landmarks: Silverlode, Cerin Amroth (K. Amroth's tree-house), Galadriel's MirrorMany Elves sold their homes and moved away from Lothlórien, the Golden Wood, during the 1980s recession when King Amroth's house flipping empire lived up to its "Going Up!" slogan and went belly up. Real estate moguls Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn kindly moved in to take up custodianship of the troubled kingdom. They have managed its day-to-day operations ever since.
Under their capable management, the realm has rebounded, and LÃ³rien is now one of Middle-earth's best-kept secrets in forest living. Galadriel's (classified) powers keep the forces of darkness out of the wood and provide partial climate control, making the Golden Wood a pleasant place to live year round. Many people move to LÃ³rien to enjoy its wholesome atmosphere and the gorgeous mallorn trees -- in fact, many residents built their houses in the mallorn trees!
The spectacular city of Caras Galadhon, the City of Green Towers, is not to be missed. Just don't piss off Galadriel. She's a little scary.
Pros of Living in the Golden Wood: Pretty Elves, climate control, mallorns, gated community with border patrols and advanced security system.
Cons of Living in the Golden Wood: Little or no contact with outside world, discrimination against non-elves, rolling out of tree-house and breaking your neck.
Rohan (The Mark)
Home of the Horse-Lords
Photo Credit: Antoine Hubert, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Edoras, Helm's Deep, Dunharrow
Forests: Near Fangorn
Landmarks: Golden Hall, Beacons, Paths of the Dead (north entrance)Give me a home where the warg-riders roam, and the orcs and the Rohirrim play!
Yes, Rohan, with its rolling green plains and spectacular White Mountains to the south is a gorgeous, untamed frontier full of gorgeous, unwashed horsemen. If you like horses, set up a homestead here. Just be prepared to fend off the occasional orc army invasion from playful neighbors to the north.
Tired of mucking stalls? Then sign up for the garrison of Helm's Deep: the pay is excellent, funeral expenses covered. Or serve in the King's Hall in Edoras, or take a post in Dunharrow. The latter is a bit of a climb, but I hear they have good mead up there.
Pros of Living in Rohan: Horses, hunks, plenty of room, great beer.
Cons of Living in Rohan: Doddering king, orc invasions, compulsory draft.
Mines of Moria (Khazad-dûm)
The Fabulous Dwarrowdelf!
Photo Credit: Ignacio Garcia, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Dwarrowdelf
Forests: Hollin (outside gates)
Landmarks: Bridge of Khazad-dûm, Endless Stair, Gates of Moria
Moria:This fixer-upper may require some fumigation to get rid of goblins, but you can't beat the price! All ready to move in, you'll fall in love with its Dwarvish Modern décor, the soaring archways, the airy ventilation, plumbing, dragon-fire lamps. Rumor has it there's mithril in them there mines, and plenty of gold and jewels left behind by its previous occupants. Pay no attention to the skeletons.
Pros of Living in Moria: A whole Dwarven city all to yourself. No balrogs here, nope! A chance to strike it rich.
Cons of Living in Moria: Oh come on, what could possibly go wrong? The dwarves aren't using it...move right in!
An Idyllic Rural Paradise
Where: The Shire
Photo Credit: Tanti Ruwani, Flickr, CCTowns/Settlements: Hobbiton, Buckland, Tookland, Michel Delving, etc
Forests: Chetwood (Elves throw great dinner parties), Old Forest (Out of bounds)
Landmarks:The Party Tree, The Green Dragon, Brandywine BridgeOur editor's top pick for cozy, comfortable, civilized living is The Shire. It has pleasant family homes, fresh produce, idyllic streams, fields and hedgerows, friendly people, daily postal delivery, plenty of inns and pubs. There's even a museum at Michel Delving!
Where else can you find the simple life and lots of friendly neighbors and relations willing to invite you over to tea, share a pipe or a home-cooked meal (five to six times a day)? Bonus: everyone gives away presents on their birthday, so you'll usually receive a present several days a week!
Note: This is a respectable, quiet, well-to-do country; they don't take kindly to vagabonds, surprises, or weird old coots in pointy hats.
Pros of Living in The Shire: Comfortable, prosperous, daily postal delivery, lots of pubs, and, of course, HOBBITS!
Cons of Living in The Shire: "Confounded relatives hanging on the bell all day never giving you a moment's peace!" -- Bilbo
Which is your favorite place to live in Middle Earth?
Google Maps Easter Egg
1. Go to Google Maps
2. Click "Get Directions"
3. Type "The Shire" in the first box and "Mordor" in the second one.
4. Click the "Walking Directions" icon (the hiker) and notice the warning message.
Also, remember this meme? MORTOR
© 2011 tinw