As if by magic, a new Harry Potter book is here. While not technically a new volume in the series—it’s the script of a hit play in London—eager fans lined up at bookstores this past Sunday to see what kind of mischief Harry’s son Albus is managing in the wizarding world these days.
But if you don’t want to wait to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to revisit J.K. Rowling’s brilliantly imaginative world of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, you can actually experience much of it in the real world, too. Whether you fly by plane or portkey, here are six often overlooked real-world Harry Potter locations in the Atlas that you can go today.
In the late medieval era, Duke Humfrey’s Library was an invaluable collection of books amassed by Sir Humphrey Plantagenetis, the first Duke of Cloucester and brother of King Henry V. Today it is the oldest reading room in what is now the world-famous Bodleian Library at Oxford University. It also doubles as another world-famous location: the library at Hogwarts, and more specifically the mysterious “restricted section.”
In the Harry Potter films, Harry visits this off-limits part of the library under the invisibility cloak looking for clues about the Sorcerer’s Stone. In the scene, the valuable ancient books are chained to the shelves to avoid thievery, just as they were for thousands of years in the real Duke Humfrey’s Library. Nowadays the precious books—including some of the original books that have been in the library for centuries—are protected by a much more practical but less Hogwarts-appropriate electronic alarm bell system.
NORTHUMBERLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
This iconic 1,000-year-old medieval castle in Britain is a favorite of the film industry, and its most famous role is as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films. It was on these castle grounds that Harry had his first Quidditch lesson and the the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia crash-landed on the first day of school.
Aside from its time on the big screen, the magnificent castle also has a long and rich history. Located in the English county of Northumberland, today it is home to the Duke of Northumberland and his family and is the second largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle. In honor of its favorite fictional wizard student, the castle now hosts “broomstick training” throughout the summer months.
Harry Potter fans know: The best way to get to Hogwarts is aboard the Hogwarts Express, which dutifully awaits students of the prestigious wizarding school at Platform 9 3/4 at the start of each term. Reaching the platform, of course, is an adventure in itself; magical blood and nerves of steel are required in order to pass through what appears to be a solid brick barrier to where the platform is located on the other side.
For several years now, Kings Cross station, the site of the fractional platform, has celebrated its role in the beloved books with a marker indicating the location of Platform 9 3/4, below which a baggage trolly can be seen disappearing into the bewitched barrier. For Muggles, the barrier remains quite solid, and Potter fans are advised against attempting to cross it.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
The ornate 19th-century painted roof and cobbled floors of Leadenhall Market, located in the historic center of London’s financial district, make it a rather magical place to do a bit of shopping —even before it played a starring role in the Harry Potter films. This covered Victorian market, one of the oldest markets in London, was the location for several exterior shots of Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping hub of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students can stock up on school supplies like spell books and wands.
Today if you wander down the market’s Bull’s Head Passage you may recognize the blue door of an optics shop (an empty storefront at the time of shooting) as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Goblet of Fire. In the films, the magical Diagon Alley is accessible to wizards and witches from London through the Leaky Cauldron, an assuming pub wedged next to a record store. If only that were true for us Muggles.
NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND
Malham Cove is a result of the monumental forces of nature. The 80-meter-tall, 300-meter-wide carboniferous limestone cliff was once the site of a torrential cataract, whose voluminous flow eroded the lip of the fall more rapidly than the sides, creating the notable curved shape of the rock formation seen today — topped by a heavily eroded, craggy limestone pavement that has been likened to a moonscape. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), Harry and Hermione travel to this otherworldly landscape while hunting for horcruxes. They set up camp in a (magical) tent on the Limestone Pavement at the top of Malham Cove.
Mount Greylock, located in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, now has two claims to fame: It is the highest point in the state, at 3,941 feet above sea level, and apparently it is also the site of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Hogwarts of North America.
J.K. Rowling revealed the name of the school in 2016 to fans on her site Pottermore, as part of a series of story about the history of wizardry in America. According to the story it was founded by an Irish witch who came to America on the Mayflower. The school of magic is only viewable to wizards and witches, however concealed by a powerful spell. The rest of us will have to be content with the idyllic panoramic views from the summit, a certain kind of magic in itself.