New Zealand: The Lord of the RingsMount Sunday: Edoras
This has to be one of the most remote Lord of the Rings locations one can publicly access. Amidst the vast Rangitata river valley in New Zealand's Southern Alps lies Mount Sunday, a sheer-sided hill that provided the perfect setting for Edoras - Rohan's capital city. The hill was given its name because boundary riders from the high-country stations would meet here on Sundays.
Building the set was a massive undertaking, not only due to its remote location but also because of the high winds that are funnelled through the valley. It needed the New Zealand army to build several hundred metres of access road before the production crew was able to access the hilltop and start with the set construction. All the structures had to be secured to the rock with iron pegs in order to withstand the elements.
The focal point of the set was Meduseld - The Great Golden Hall of the Kings - which stood atop the hill, overlooking around a dozen other buildings, including the stables, the gatehouse and a wooden tower.
Filming only took about three weeks, with all the interior scenes shot in the studio in Wellington. After the wrap, the entire set was dismantled and everything was returned to its natural state.
The location of Edoras has its first appearance in The Two Towers. Having left the ancient forest of Fangorn, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli ride to the Rohan capital.
At the same time, Eowen, daugther of King Theoden is standing in front of the Golden Hall, overlooking the vast landscape below.
Clearly, they are not welcome and receive sidelong looks from the locals.
The friends quickly discover that King Theoden is under the control of Saruman and his helper - Grima Wormtongue. Gandalf manages to break the power of the spell and hands Theoden his sword, who turns his eyes on Grima. He throws the coward out of his hall and down the steps.
A short while after, the King's dead son Theodred is carried out of the city and buried amongst the foothills. After the ceremonial crowd has dispersed, only Gandalf and the King remain.
Back in the city, the King decides to abandon Edoras and seek refuge in the mountain fortress of Helm's Deep.
All of the following sceneframing shots are from The Return of the King:
Mount Sunday is open to the public and accessible via a walking track which starts on Hakatere Potts Road, about 48 km west of Mount Somers. The walk to the summit of Edoras takes about 30min one-way and is well-signposted (so is the carpark).
Mount Sunday: Edoras
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