Was Minas Tirith inspired by Constantinople?

Minas Tirith

I first read The Lord Of The Rings when I was around 14. A couple of years later I first really started to study the Eastern Roman Empire.

One thing that seemed to make a connection with me was the similarity between Minas Tirith, the ancient city of a great empire that had fallen on hard times and become a city under permanent siege, and the Constantinople of the later Byzantine Empire when it was similarly fallen on hard times and surrounded by hostile and determined enemies.

Both were great cities, founded in splendour and for long centuries the proud rulers over vast empires but both had suffered long years of defeat, with their empires being much reduced by war, schisms, treachery and defeat.

There is even something of a similarity between the Varangian Guards, proud warlike Northerners, and the Rohirrim. Tolkien seems to have thought of the Riders of Rohan as something akin to Angles and Saxons.

I wonder if Peter Jackson and his designers had, consciously or unconsciously, used aspects of Byzantine architecture as the inspiration for some of the look of the Minas Tirith of the films?

The two cities were also menaced by implacable enemies from the East; the Ottomans in the case of Constantinople and the Haradrim, Orcs and Variags against Minas Tirith.

The difference, of course, is that for Minas Tirith, the King came again and the City was delivered from its enemies.

For Constantinople, the last siege in 1453 marked the death of the Roman Empire in the East, almost a thousand years after the end of the Western Roman Empire.


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