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Can anybody explain about the different realms of the Noldor (such as Gondolin) as well as other Elven places (like Doriath) in times before the War of Wrath?

Also, a mention of the different things that happened in those places that were important?

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All quotes are from The Silmarillion III Quenta Silmarillion, unless otherwise noted.

Elven Homes before the Noldor left Aman

  • Cuiviénen The first home of the Elvish people, where they first awoke:

    It is told that even as Varda ended her labours, and they were long, when first Menelmacar strode up the sky and the blue fire of Helluin flickered in the mists above the borders of the world, in that hour the Children of the Earth awoke, the Firstborn of Ilúvatar. By the starlit mere of Cuiviénen, Water of Awakening, they rose from the sleep of Ilúvatar; and while they dwelt yet silent by Cuiviénen their eyes beheld first of all things the stars of heaven. Therefore they have ever loved the starlight, and have revered Varda Elentári above all the Valar.

    Chapter 3: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Chaining of Melkor"

  • Tirion The city of the Noldor in Aman, the Undying Lands:

    Upon the crown of Túna the city of the Elves was built, the white walls and terraces of Tirion; and the highest of the towers of that city was the Tower of Ingwë, Mindon Eldaliéva, whose silver lamp shone far out into the mists of the sea. Few are the ships of mortal Men that have seen its slender beam. In Tirion upon Túna the Vanyar and the Noldor dwelt long in fellowship.

    Chapter 5: "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"

  • Formenos The stronghold of Fëanor and his sons, after Fëanor got himself banished from Tirion:

    With [Fëanor] into banishment went his seven sons, and northward in Valinor they made a strong place and treasury in the hills; and there at Formenos a multitude of gems were laid in hoard, and weapons also, and the Silmarils were shut in a chamber of iron. Thither also came Finwë the King, because of the love that he bore to Fëanor

    Chapter 7 "Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor"

  • Alqualondë Home of the ship-building Elves, the Teleri:

    Then the swans drew the white ships of the Teleri over the windless sea; and thus at last and latest they came to Aman and the shores of Eldamar.

    There they dwelt, and if they wished they could see the light of the Trees, and could tread the golden streets of Valmar and the crystal stairs of Tirion upon Túna, the green hill; but most of all they sailed in their swift ships on the waters of the Bay of Elvenhome, or walked in the waves upon the shore with their hair gleaming in the light beyond the hill. Many jewels the Noldor gave them, opals and diamonds and pale crystals, which they strewed upon the shores and scattered in the pools; marvellous were the beaches of Elendë in those days. And many pearls they won for themselves from the sea, and their halls were of pearl, and of pearl were the mansions of Olwë at Alqualondë, the Haven of the Swans, lit with many lamps. For that was their city, and the haven of their ships

    Chapter 5: "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"

Elvish Kingdoms in Middle-earth

  • Dor-lómin Ruled by Fingon, son of Fingolfin:

    Fingolfin and Fingon his son held Hithlum, and the most part of Fingolfin's folk dwelt in Mithrim about the shores of the great lake; to Fingon was assigned Dor-lómin, that lay to the west of the Mountains of Mithrim.

    Chapter 14: "Of Beleriand and its Realms"

    Dor-lómin is probably best-known for being the birthplace of Túrin Turambar, one of (if not The) greatest human warriors of the First Age and the subject of the most depressing story in all of The Silmarillion.

  • Doriath The Fenced Land, protected by the Girdle of Melian:

    And when Thingol came again to Menegroth he learned that the Orc-host in the west was victorious, and had driven Círdan to the rim of the sea. Therefore he withdrew all his people that his summons could reach within the fastness of Neldoreth and Region, and Melian put forth her power and fenced all that dominion round about with an unseen wail of shadow and bewilderment: the Girdle of Melian, that none thereafter could pass against her will or the will of King Thingol, unless one should come with a power greater than that of Melian the Maia. And this inner land, which was long named Eglador, was after called Doriath, the guarded kingdom, Land of the Girdle. Within it there was yet a watchful peace; but without there was peril and great fear, and the servants of Morgoth roamed at will, save in the walled havens of the Falas.

    Chapter 10: "Of the Sindar"

    Doriath's Queen was Melian, one of the Maiar spirits who fell in love with the Elf who would afterwards be named Elu Thingol. Doriath is well-known for Melian's protective Girdle, but it's also the birthplace of Lúthien the Fair.

  • Falas Actually pre-dating the voyage of the Teleri to Aman, Falas was their first great haven and the first realm of Círdan:

    When many years had passed, Ulmo hearkened to the prayers of the Noldor and of Finwë their king. Who grieved at their long sundering from the Teleri, and besought him to bring them to Aman, if they would come. And most of them proved now willing indeed; but great was the grief of Ossë when Ulmo returned to the coasts of Beleriand, to bear them away to Valinor; for his care was for the seas of Middle-earth and the shores of the Hither Lands, and he was ill-pleased that the voices of the Teleri should be heard no more in his domain. Some he persuaded to remain; and those were the Falathrim, the Elves of the Falas, who in after days had dwellings at the havens of Brithombar and Eglarest, the first mariners in Middle-earth and the first makers of ships. Círdan the Shipwright was their lord.

    Chapter 5: "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"

    Falas is notable for being one of the few places outside of Menegroth where Orcs couldn't wander freely. Círdan and his Elves occasionally come out to help their kin in battle, but otherwise Falas is uninteresting.

  • Gondolin The Hidden City and one of the mightiest kingdoms in Middle-earth.

    Now after the Dagor Aglareb the unquiet that Ulmo set in his heart returned to him, and he summoned many of the hardiest and most skilled of his people, and led them secretly to the hidden vale, and there they began the building of the city that Turgon had devised; and they set a watch all about it, that none might come upon their work from without, and the power of Ulmo that ran in Sirion protected them. But Turgon dwelt still for the most part in Nevrast, until it came to pass that at last the city was full-wrought, after two and fifty years of secret toil. It is said that Turgon appointed its name to be Ondolindë in the speech of the Elves of Valinor, the Rock of the Music of Water, for there were fountains upon the hill; but in the Sindarin tongue the name was changed, and it became Gondolin, the Hidden Rock. Then Turgon prepared to depart from Nevrast and leave his halls in Vinyamar beside the sea; and there Ulmo came to him once again, and spoke with him. And he said: 'Now thou shalt go at last to Gondolin, Turgon; and I will maintain my power in the Vale of Sirion, and in all the waters therein, so that none shall mark thy going, nor shall any find there the hidden entrance against thy will. Longest of all the realms of the Eldalië shall Gondolin stand against Melkor. But love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the Sea.'

    Chapter 15: "Of the Noldor in Beleriand"

    Gondolin is one of the more important realms in Beleriand, mostly because Morgoth spent a lot of time trying (and failing) to find it. Hilariously, its a city best-known for falling, and a whole chapter is devoted to the subject: Chapter 23 "Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"

  • Nargothrond Stronghold of Finrod Felagund, son of Finarfin and brother to Galadriel. Nargothrond is notable for being a hollowed-out cave; pretty unusual choice of living space for an Elf-lord:

    Now on a time Finrod and Galadriel his sister were the guests of Thingol their kinsman in Doriath. Then Finrod was filled with wonder at the strength and majesty of Menegroth, its treasuries and armouries and its many-pillared halls of stone; and it came into his heart that he would build wide halls behind ever-guarded gates in some deep and secret place beneath the hills. Therefore he opened his heart to Thingol, telling him of his dreams; and Thingol spoke to him of the deep gorge of the River Narog, and the caves under the High Faroth in its steep western shore, and when he departed he gave him guides to lead him to that place of which few yet knew. Thus Finrod came to the Caverns of Narog, and began to establish there deep halls and armouries after the fashion of the mansions of Menegroth; and that stronghold was called Nargothrond.

    Chapter 13: "Of the Return of Melkor"

    Nargothrond was eventually sacked by the dragon Glaurung, not long after Túrin Turambar came to live there (remember him? Worst. House-guest. Ever).

  • Nevrast Not very important, and referenced above in the Gondolin quote; Turgon lived there briefly, but otherwise not very significant.

  • Gondolin has a link to The Hobbit in that the swords Orcrist and Glamdring, found in the troll hoard, were forged there, as well as the short sword Sting. Glamdring had belonged to Turgon himself during the First Age, and was somehow saved from the fall of the city along with Orcrist and Sting. – maguirenumber6 May 12 '15 at 13:26
  • @maguirenumber6 You are correct, and there are certainly many interesting facts I left out of my answer. A complete history of all these realms would (almost literally) be Quenta Silmarillion – Jason Baker May 12 '15 at 13:42
  • Great answer btw :-) – maguirenumber6 May 12 '15 at 14:26
  • Thanks. I don't own any of the books except the LotR trilogy and the Hobbit, so this is really good. – AJL May 12 '15 at 20:06
  • @AJL Happy to help. The Silmarillion is a bit dense (much less narrative than LotR or The Hobbit), but it really fleshes out Tolkien's world – Jason Baker May 12 '15 at 20:16

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