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Imladris was built as a safe haven for the Eldar during and before the battle of Dagorlad, and it remained near the crossing paths of the Misty Mountains for ages to come, and still remained even in the twilight years of the Third Age, and the beginning Fourth Age -- a settlement for all weary travelers, seekers of wisdom and rest, and for all those needing safety crossing the paths of the Misty Mountains. Its position to the borders of the Misty Mountains and position in a natural cleft between cliff side allowed for few entrances into Imladris, and those openings were narrow and easily guarded by the remaining warriors of Lindon. Glorfindel led the guards beneath the leadership of Elrond, the son of Earendil the mariner.
Imladris was founded in the year 1697 of the Second Age, in the region of Rhudaur in ancient Arnor. In the beginning of the Third Age, as Westron was further developed, it gained the name Rivendell to all who did not dwell there or knew little of the languages of the Eldar. In the date of its founding, Imladris was merely a fortress in the cleft of the mountains built of the remnants of Gil-galad's people of Lindon from the war in Eregion, led by Elrond, who, at this time, was the highest herald and captain of Gil-galad's army. All that stood was what was to become the heartbeat of the House of Elrond.
Slowly, Imladris was developed and assembled piece by piece over years, centuries, as more artisans, singers, musicians, writers, and wood craftsmen came to multiply the numbers of Imladris. The festivals throughout the year of praise and thanksgiving were held there, for the people always remained thankful. After the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, those of Lindon who did not return as few did to Lindon settled in Imladris, and the settlement again grew to spread down the valley, in all but the meadows that were spared for the horses that also dwelt there. The basic architecture was then altered throughout the first thousand years of the Third Age to create the latticeworks and graceful arches and curves that were associated with Rivendell by the late Third Age.
Few remnants of the original fortress that remained, mostly in the gates of Imladris and the basic structure of the walls of Rivendell for ease of defense and the House of Elrond beneath the eaves. Other hints of the fortress structure are seen in the watchtowers.
The keeper of Imladris was Elrond Peredhel (the half-elven), son of Earendil Peredhel the Mariner and Elwing, daughter of Dior Peredhel of Doriath in Beleriand. Elrond was born the first of twin sons in the havens of Sirion. When yet young children, Elrond and Elros were taken captive by Maedhros and Maglor, until their vanishing but a short time later. Not much is documented as to whether Maglor kept them for a time or they, as the sons of Dior, were abandoned and left to die in the wilds. Some tales say Elrond and Elros were first found in a warrior camp near the age of twelve hundred, when Laurefinde found them near the ruins of a forest. Elros later on was founded as the first king of Numenor.
Laurefinde and Elrond traveled the wilds of Eriador and the remnant of Beleriand until they came to Lindon and chose to remain and fight with Gil-Galad's people. Elrond Peredhel came into high favor as a trusted warrior, and valued captain and friend of the High King. In the mid Second Age, Elrond was sent to lead a defensive attack in Eregion against Sauron, where the Peredhel and his people fought long, and then retreated to Rhudaur to found the fortress of Imladris. There, Elrond met and wed Celebrian, the daughter of Celeborn of the Avari and Galadriel of the Noldor. He then returned later to Lindon as the One Ring wrought more havoc across Middle Earth and stood by Gil-galad's side as herald in the battle of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. In the end of this long-lasting battle, the High King fell and passed, unbeknownst to all but a select few until the last days of the Third Age, the Ring of Air, Vilya, into Elrond's keeping. When the remaining Eldar retreated to Imladris, it grew in numbers and lore to be known as the capital of all diplomacy of Ennor under the watchful care of Elrond, lord of his people.
Aragorn was also raised in the leading household of Rivendell, by his Eldarin name "Estel", meaning "hope" There however, he remained not a king, but another child of Elrond.
Imladris was known for more than the security of its location and the warmth of its halls to the weary traveler. Within its walls laid by the end of the Third Age the largest known library of ancient lore and history in all of Arda, and the second largest collection of books in Middle Earth, outnumbered only by the Library of Minas Tirith in Gondor. These annals laid in the safe keeping of Erestor, and within them such tales as the Chronicle of Doriath, all written songs and lore, stories of The One and the Creation of the World, and the Chronicles of Ancient History, to name a few.
The haven of Rivendell was known also, perhaps most of all, for another reason. Elrond Peredhel's skill in medicine was renowned throughout all Middle Earth. The clean and healthy atmosphere of Imladris proved a great asset to all those in dire need, if the settlement could be reached at short notice.
Perhaps the most famous incident of these skills was the rescuing of Frodo from a poisoned wound - this altered forever the history of Ennor. Another pivotal event changed the history of the settlement when Celebrian, wife of Elrond was captured and tormented by orcs in the high pass. By grace, she was healed, but soon departed to Valinor, leaving little but ghosts of feminine beauty to the House of Elrond and only her daughter Arwen.
Imladris occured as important yet again in the year 3018 of the Third Age, when the One Ring passed through the settlement in late autumn and the Fellowship of the Ring was formed, and yet again as the company set for Valinor but a few years later was collected there, and one last time before its fading in the Fourth Age once it was released from the watchful care of Elladan and Elrohir, the two blood sons of Elrond and Celebrian. What then became of the archives of Imladris, little is known, but that they were hidden by Thranduil's command in the first year of the Fifth Age. (See Fifth Age: The Remainder.)
(For geographical information, go to the Places index: Rhudaur)