Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
Better luck next time, Dark Lord of Mordor. And cagey Russian artists.
It was in the Second Age of Middle Earth that Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor, built Barad-dûr, the greatest fortress since the construction of Angband by Melkor, later Morgoth the Black Enemy, after the fall of Utumno (Udûn) in the Iron Mountains. Everybody knows that much.
What not even Tom Bombadil might have guessed is that Sauron would once again rise in the East during our own fallen age. According to The Hollywood Reporter Russia, a Russian art group called Svechenie ("Glow") planned to bring the Eye of Sauron to a tower in Moscow in connection with the premiere of the umpteenth installment in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film series. For nine hours, starting on the night of December 11, the great lidless Eye would peer out over Moscow, not at all confirming Western stereotypes about Russia under Putin.
To realize the visual effect, Svechenie had planned to install an orb on one of the towers in the Moscow City development center (which would have forever after been known as Minas Morgul). But the plan was scrapped almost as soon as it was formally announced. It was not Gandalf the White who stopped Sauron this time, but another controversial robed figure: Russian Orthodox Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who called the symbol "demonic."
“Such a symbol of triumphant evil rising above Moscow and becoming one of the tallest objects in the city…is it good or bad?" Chaplin objected, according to Russia Today. "I am afraid it’s mostly bad."
And people say that the blood of Númenor is spent. Frankly, how much damage could Sauron really do in nine hours? European Tolkien fiends will have to turn to the Netherlands and the giant, unblinking eyes of 's-Hertogenbosch for the next best thing.