Britain's Best Harry Potter Film Sites
Fans of Harry Potter can celebrate the November 19 opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, the first screen installment of J. K. Rowling's final Potter novel. Would-be witches and wizards have been heading to film sites around Britain that capture the magical Potter world since 2001, when the first of the six previous movies opened. Each film pieces together many locations, but you can visit some that truly capture the fantastical richness of Harry's world. Here are top spots to explore if you're happily seeking Harry in Britain.
Did your top Potter place not make the cut? Add your favorite location in the comments below.
Jacobite Steam Train
HP Connection: Harry, Hermione, and Ron travel to Hogwarts School each year, and you can hop on the steam train in Scotland, renamed the Hogwarts Express in the films, that provides them with some spectacularly scenic—and sometimes scary—rides. The train runs 42 miles from Fort William to Mallaig and crosses the awesome 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The viaduct appeared in the scene of the flying car in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after Harry and Ron miss the train, and also in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Steam Train Review: The most relaxing way to take in the landscape of birch- and bracken-covered wild slopes is by rail. The best ride . . . Read more.
Viaduct Review: As impressive as the Glenfinnan Monument is, the curving railway viaduct that stretches across the green slopes behind the monument is even more so . . . Read more.
HP Connection: Here's a nostalgic favorite. The Reptile House at the London Zoo in Regent's Park stood in for the Little Whinging Zoo near Harry's Surrey home. On an outing with his cousin Dudley in the first movie, young Harry comes to realize he has magical powers as he communicates with a Burmese python at the zoo. A plaque inside the Reptile House commemorates the event.
Fodor's Review: The zoo, owned by the Zoological Society of London (a charity), opened in 1828 and peaked in popularity during the 1950s, when more than 3 million people passed through its turnstiles every year. A recent modernization program has seen several big new attractions open up . . . Read more.
HP Connection: The first two Potter films, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, used this massive medieval castle in northeast England for brooding exterior shots of Hogwarts. The castle exterior was also the backdrop for the young wizards' high-flying adventures on broomstick during the Quidditch match in the first movie.
Fodor's Review: The grandly scaled Alnwick Castle, on the edge of the town center, is known for its gardens as well as the castle itself. This is still the home of the dukes of Northumberland . . . Read more.
HP Connection: Eerie things happen in the hallways of Harry's school. The ancient, fan-vaulted cloisters of the cathedral made a suitable stand-in for the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first film and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and return again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.
Fodor's Review: Magnificent Gloucester Cathedral, with its soaring, elegant exterior, was originally a Norman abbey church, consecrated in 1100. Reflecting different periods, the cathedral mirrors perfectly . . . Read more.
King's Cross Station
HP Connection: Harry Potter and fellow aspiring wizards take the Hogwarts Express to school from the imaginary platform 9¾ (platforms 4 and 5 were the actual shooting site) in a number of the movies. The station has put up a sign for platform 9¾, and it has become a popular spot to take a picture—but please don't try to run through the wall.
About the station: Known for its 120-foot-tall clock tower, this yellow-brick, Italianate railroad station was constructed in 1851–52 as the London terminus for the Great Northern Railway.
HP Connection: A reproduction of the Great Hall of Oxford University's Christ Church College has served as the often-raucous dining hall at Hogwarts School; in Oxford you can visit the original. Also at Oxford is the Divinity School, which doubled as the infirmary where Harry found himself in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Fodor's Review: Built in 1546, the college of Christ Church is referred to by its members as "The House." This is the site of Oxford's largest quadrangle. . . Read more.
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Photo Credits: Jacobite Steam Train Courtesy Britainonview / Rod Edwards; Alnwick Castle Courtesy Britainonview / Pawel Libera; Christ Church Courtesy Britainonview / Ingrid Rasmussen; Gloucester Cathedral Courtesy Britainonview / - Britain on View
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For wizarding travel this side of 'the pond', there's a fun piece on WGBH Radio about the Harry Potter Scavenger Hunt at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge. http://www.wgbh.org/articles/Potter-Fans-Hunt-For-Treasures-At-Harvard-Museum-1001
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