Tolkien calls it the Undying Lands, the Gray Havens, the land of the Valar, but it’s always the realm of Valinor. The immortal land inhabited by the Valar, the beings that the Men of Middle-earth refer to as gods, is where the First Children awoke at the beginning of time. This is the land where Feanor made the Silmarils, precious gems inspired by the light of the Two Trees that lit the world before there was a sun and moon.
The peak of the kingdom of Valinor predates the First Age and is referred to as “YT,” or Year Of The Trees. This was a time when Elves, Maiar, and the Valar lived in peace until the time of Morgoth and Ungoliant. Tolkien wrote about Valinor in books that predated The Lord of the Ringssuch as The Silmarillion and included stories that explained why so many of the Elves left this blessed land.
6 The Valar And The Maiar
In the earliest age of Middle-earth, there were the Valar, angelic beings who had the power of creation. There were both lords and queens among the Valar, and in turn, they commanded an order of beings called the Maiar. They follow the orders of the Valar, and the type of higher being a Maia serves determines what kind of powers they command and the talents they have.
A few of the Maiar appear in the Third Age of Middle Earth as the five wizards, Sauron was a Maia, and two of the Maiar carry the sun and moon across the sky. Gandalf, a Maiar that served the Valar Manwë, died fighting a Balrog but was sent back by the Vala to finish his task. On the other hand, Melian the Maia returned to Valinor via ship after the passing of her husband.
5 The Haven Of The Swans
A place as beautiful as Valinor would also have an equally impressive collection of cities. One of these was Alqualondë, also known as the Haven of the Swans, was a city famous for its endearing beauty. It was a region that was wooded and verdant, and the Elves that lived there were called the Teleri.
The Teleri were known for the boats that they crafted, and the city they build was made of pearl and built into the natural stone arches near the shore. The beaches were strewn with gemstones, gifts of the Noldor, and the island of Tol Eressëa was placed in the bay at the bidding of Ulmo, the lord of the sea.
4 Mountains, Pastures, And Woodlands
Some settlements of Valinor are inhabited by the Elves and the Valar as well as their servants, but they use other, more isolated parts of Valinor as their residence. Each Valar has its estate somewhere in Valinor depending on its place in the spiritual pantheon.
Manwë and Varda, the most powerful of the Valar and the group’s leaders, reside high atop the mountain of Taniquetil. Yavanna, the Valar of growth and nature and the master of Radagast the Maia, lives in a vast southern pasture. The god of the hunt, Oromë, lives in the woodlands. They also have a city, Valmar, which is considered the capital of the continent.
3 The Voyage Of Eärendil
There was a time when Middle-earth had to contend with the wars against Morgoth and the battles the Elves fought among themselves for the Silmarils. One pf th jewels had been recovered, but it was in the hands of Eärendil the Mariner, who had inherited a Silmaril from his grandparents, Beren and Luthien. He was not of the House of Feanor, and according to the Oath they had taken in Valinor, the sons of Feanor would stop at nothing to recover them.
Using the Silamril to guide him, Eärendil found the Straight Path over the sea to Valinor and asked the Valar for help. They not only answered his call but his sons Elros and Elrond were forever granted the power to choose between mortal lives or to live forever. Elrond would choose immortality and his brother Elros would live as a mortal and be crowned the first King of Númenor.
2 Gave Men Númenor, And Then Took It Away
Not all humans of Middle-earth sided with the Elves and Valar against Morgoth, but those that did were awarded the island continent of Númenor on which to build a new kingdom. Twenty-five emperors oversaw the growth of Númenor, which became a powerful nation, but its fame and fortune were the cause of its downfall.
There was only rule that the Valar compelled the Númenoreons to follow, and this was that they never attempt to sail west, to Valinor. This was known as the Ban of the Valar. The continent was solely for the Valar, the Maiar, and the Elves. Humans had to accept death graciously and never attempt to set foot there. It was when the 25th Emporer, Ar-Pharazôn, attempted to defy the Ban and sail to the Undying Lands with the intent of taking it over by force. As punishment, the Valar sank the continent of Númenor, and only Elendil and his people survived.
1 Only Immortals Can Go There…With Some Exceptions
The Ban of the Valar was never questioned again after the fall of Númenor, which turned the world from flat into a globe and robbed Sauron of the ability to take a pleasing form. The Elves sailed west peacefully from the Gray Havens and those mortals left behind, whether they be humans or hobbits, didn’t seek to follow them.
Despite the strict enforcement of the ban in the past, at the end of the Third Age, some notable exceptions were made. Three hobbits who served as Ring Bearers were allowed to enter the Undying Lands as was the dwarf Gimli, a close friend to Legolas of Greenwood. Legend has it that the last ship to sail to Valinor was the one that carried Gimli and Legolas at the beginning of the 4th age.
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