In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Caras Galadhon (pronounced [ˈkaras ˈɡalaðon]) is a fictional city in his work The Lord of the Rings. It appears mostly in The Fellowship of the Ring, but it is also mentioned in the Appendices of The Return of the King.
Built deep in the Forest Realm of Lothlórien, the city was created in the middle of, on top of, and out of mallorn, a type of tree originally brought to that land by Galadriel.
Since the city was built by Amroth in the Third Age, it quickly became the most populated place of Lothlórien and by the end of that age also became the most important settlement of the Galadhrim in Middle-earth.
In the first edition of The Lord of the Rings, Caras Galadhon was spelled as Caras Galadon, but the "h" was later added to distinguish two roots in Sindarin (one of the languages invented by Tolkien): galad ("light") and galadh ("tree").
As with the case of the forest surrounding it, Tolkien also gave the city several names:
Outside of Lothlórien or any other Elven settlement, the Westron (Common Speech used by most Men and Hobbits during the Third Age) variant of Caras Galadhon, City of Trees, was also widely used amongst Men to talk about the city.
The city was built inside the Forest of Lothlórien, "some ten miles" from the point where the rivers Celebrant and Anduin met, close to the eastern border of the realm. Although its position near the end of the Egladil ("The Angle", name given to the lands between the two rivers and location of the forest), and consequently near the Anduin, favoured communication through Middle-earth, it made the city more vulnerable to attacks from Dol Guldur, a fortress of Sauron to the east of Caras Galadhon, something which eventually happened during the War of the Ring. It is thought that the city was constructed to prevent such an event, but Tolkien never included an explanation for it in his books or appendices. The city was also called "The City of Light and Song".
The city of Caras Galadhon was constructed in and around its massive trees, which gave it its common name (see above). In the trees there were many telain, tree-platforms which could be elaborate dwellings or simple guard-posts.
To help navigation in the city, stairways of ladders were built around the main trees, and at night the city was lit by "many lamps" - "green and gold and silver".
The city had no entrance on the north, so when the Fellowship arrived from that direction, they had to be guided through a white road, which surrounded the city and its moat, to the southern part of Caras Galadhon, where the city's gate was found.
Other interesting places inside the city were Caras Galadhon's fountain, the palace of Galadriel and Celeborn, and the Mirror of Galadriel. Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee visited all these places during their one-month stay in Caras Galadhon.
It is long indeed since we saw one of Durin's folk in Caras Galadhon.
Although there is no substantial information regarding Caras Galadhon's chronological origin, Celeborn's statement seems to indicate that the city had already been built when Dwarves fled from Khazad-dûm after unleashing the Balrog known as Durin's Bane, in the year 1981 of the Third Age.
In that same year, Amroth, the former Lord of Lothlórien, went to the south of Middle-earth with his beloved Nimrodel, but drowned in the Bay of Belfalas after she went missing in the Ered Nimrais and never returned home. After this loss, the control of Lothlórien passed to Galadriel and Celeborn, which put them in Caras Galadhon at the time these two events happened.
During the War of the Ring, the Fellowship of the Ring was brought through Lothlórien to Caras Galadhon, and there met the Lord and Lady of the Galadhrim. The Fellowship spent roughly a month at Caras Galadhon (between 17th 'January' 3019 and 16th 'February' of the same year).
Around the time of the siege of Minas Tirith, Lórien was besieged itself by Dol Guldur three times:The first, during 11th 'March' 3019, happened one day before Frodo's crossing of Shelob's lair;
The second battle happened four days later, on the same day of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields;
The last occurred on 22nd 'March', three days before the destruction of the One Ring.
These three attacks were able to ruin several parts of the forest, mostly the borders to the north and east (which were more exposed to Dol Guldur's strength), but also the west border was hindered, because the main force was helped by Orcs from Moria.
After the fall of Sauron, Galadriel and Celeborn marched to Dol Guldur and managed to rid it from Sauron's past influence. By the beginning of the Fourth Age, the place which was previously Sauron's stronghold was renamed Amon Lanc and became part of Celeborn's East Lórien realm.
When the War of the Ring ended and Dol Guldur was destroyed, Caras Galadhon became the capital of a much wider realm, which now extended to east of the river Anduin and included southern Mirkwood. After Galadriel left for Valinor at the end of the Third Age, the extended realm was ruled solely by Celeborn. Its new province was called East Lórien by the Galadhrim who lived there.
However, the city slowly became depopulated after Galadriel's absence, and Celeborn left the city for Rivendell after a while and supposedly to Valinor later. At the time of the War of Ring, Caras Galadhon had been described as a "great city" where thousands of Silvan Elves lived, but by the time of Aragorn Elessar's death (the year 120 of the Fourth Age), the land of Lórien was reported as being "silent" and Caras Galadhon was wholly abandoned. This means that the Silvan Elves deserted it, either for Mirkwood or Valinor, although the latter seems to be a vague option, because the ships that were prepared by Círdan and the last of the elves of Lindon, were the last known instances of elves crossing to Valinor (barring Legolas and possibly Gimli's journey to Valinor).