If I understand correctly, Gondolin was not protected by any magical or godly means hiding it from Melkor and his forces.

Now, the Echoriad mountains were pretty far up North, and also not that far (by flight) from Tol Sirion.

Why is it, that none of Melkor's servants/minions/supporters were able to just fly around and notice Gondolin? Was Melkor particularly lacking when it came to creatures of the air? He at least had Dragons, and maybe bats (Sauron had a vampire bat form).

4 Answers 4


Gondolin was protected by the Great Eagles, and in any case Morgoth lacked airborne servants. According to the Unfinished Tales

They [Great Eagles] alone save the Noldor know the Hidden Kingdom and guard the skies above it, though as yet no servant of the Enemy has dared to fly into the high airs...

(Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin).

Note that winged dragons did not appear until the War of Wrath.

  • 2
    If the skies above Gondolin had a bunch of Eagles flying around, wouldn't that be a dead giveaway? :-(
    – einpoklum
    Apr 20, 2022 at 16:01
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    @einpoklum only if the mountains of Gondolin where the only home of eagles
    – Po-ta-toe
    Apr 20, 2022 at 16:05
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    @einpoklum --- The Eagles would see you before you saw them. Then you would die. Apr 20, 2022 at 16:36
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    @JMERICKS The first time dragons actually attack includes the fall of Gondolin but ironically, these dragons were unable to fly. In short: Flying dragons had not been seen until after the fall of Gondolin. Apr 21, 2022 at 17:03
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    @einpoklum --- Not me, Tolkien: "... because of the eagles no spy of his [Morgoth's] could yet come within sight of the land behind the Encircling Mountains" (Of the Ruin of Doriath). That said, the wider issue of why Morgoth didn't find Gondolin sooner is more nuanced; you might consider asking that as a separate question. Apr 22, 2022 at 0:24

The mountains were hard to go through, and if you got close, the native eagles would get you. This might also happen in other areas, for eagles nest in mountains. And it's not like Morgoth had a detailed map of the area, to know for sure which areas were explored and which were not. Beleriand was a very large landmass, with lots of hazards, and eagles were only one of them.

Until we were able to fly over the Rocky Mountains with aircraft, there were likely hundreds of places large enough to contain cities, yet not explored. And that is without active wildlife defense.

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    Did anyone even know for sure that Gondolin existed, that Turgon and his share of the Noldor had not been lost at sea or something? Jun 7, 2023 at 23:07

Load up Google maps, zoom in so that your screen only covers a square kilometer, turn off all of the labels, and try to find a city whose location and layout you do not already know.

  • But you can see more than a kilometer just from a tall hill.
    – DavidW
    Mar 19 at 5:38
  • From a height of 1 or 2 Km above ground, you have a much larger area of coverage; plus, Melkor had plenty of minions who could just gradually cover the entire area over some period of time.
    – einpoklum
    Mar 19 at 10:10

One possible explanation would be the influence of particular Vala on the elements. Ulmo, the lord of waters, apparently had something to do with how Melkor did not have much power over seas and rivers; so, maybe it's the same for Manwë and the air? Or at least, the skies and their creatures?

  • 4
    Evidence, not theories! Do you have any sources that back this up?
    – DavidW
    Apr 20, 2022 at 18:23
  • 1
    @DavidW: Literary symmetry.
    – einpoklum
    Apr 20, 2022 at 18:28

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