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City of Magic: A Brief Guide to Harry Potter’s London

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Besides Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, London is perhaps the most featured location in the Harry Potter films. Unlike the first two locations, London is a place that isn’t dressed up to look like somewhere else, as Alnwick Castle has filled in for Hogwarts or the Goathland train station has played the role of Hogsmeade. In London, real locations are featured as themselves more than they are dressed up to resemble fictional locales, though many play fictional roles as well.

Perhaps one of the most well-known Harry Potter locations in London is King’s Cross Station, where the magical Platform 9 ¾ acts as a way station for students on the train route to Hogwarts. Platforms 4 and 5 were used for filming the scenes in the station, while King’s Cross has placed a sign for the fictional platform and a half-disappeared trolly that you can use for photos. Nearby is also the Harry Potter Shop where you can purchase any number of movie souvenirs. The exterior of St. Pancras International Station was used as King’s Cross in Chamber of Secrets, outside of which Harry and Ron “borrow” Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia to get to school.

Meanwhile, a mixture of the real and the fictional can be found at Leadenhall Market. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid takes young Harry through the market to arrive at the door of the Leaky Cauldron, itself a portal to the wizard’s shopping districts of Diagon and Nocturne Alleys. The Glass House optician’s shop in the Bull’s Head Passage was used as the door for the Leaky Cauldron. In the novels, the entrance can be found on Charing Cross Road. Borough Market also fills in for Diagon Alley in Prisoner of Azkabhan, when the Knight Bus drops Harry there.

If you want to go to Gringott’s to withdraw some wizard gold, that may prove more difficult. Australia House in the Strand, which was used for the interior of the bank, is the home of the Australian High Commissioner. However, the Reptile House, where Harry first learns he can speak Parseltongue, is easily accessible at the London Zoo. The zoo is home to over 650 species and is worth exploring thoroughly.

Trying to go to the Ministry of Magic? You’ll want to go through the Westminster Tube Station, which Arthur Weasley and Harry pass through on their way to the toilets Ministry personnel use to get to work in the Order of the Phoenix. The exterior for the Ministry is at Great Scotland Yard and Scotland Place, where the real-life Department of Energy and Climate Change is headquartered. Another location from that film is Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where Sirius Black’s home, 12 Grimmauld Place, was filmed. The buildings there are used as lawyer’s offices rather than private homes.

Order of the Phoenix also heavily features the Thames River, including Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, and the Millennium Bridge, as the Death Eaters chase after the Order and the imposter Harrys. After Harry, Ron, and Hermione flee to London after Death Eaters attack Bill Weasley’s and Fleur Delacour’s wedding in Deathly Hallows, the café they seek temporary refuge in a café near Piccadilly Circus.

If you have the opportunity to get further out into the London suburbs, the town of Brecknell and the rowhouses of Picket Close served as Little Whinging. Even major London landmarks get into the film as a shot of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster welcome Harry into the city on his way to the Leaky Caldron. And while most of Hogwarts have been filmed at locations all across Britain, if you want to see Professor Flitwick’s classroom, you’ll need to take a tour of Harrow School, where Lord Byron and Winston Churchill rank amongst Harrow’s famous alumni.

With so many Potter locations in London, you can have every chance to make your next trip to the city magical.

John Rabon
Author: John Rabon

John is a regular writer for Anglotopia and its sister websites. He is currently engaged in finding a way to move books slightly to the left without the embarrassment of being walked in on by Eddie Izzard. For any comments, questions, or complaints, please contact the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's haircut.

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