Written by root. Posted in FEATURES


Published on September 15, 2017 with No Comments

Relive the magic on the 20th anniversary of the first book.



For some 20 years, people from all over the globe have been reading and celebrating the enchanting world of Harry Potter. Last 26 June, 2017 marks 20 years since author JK Rowling charmed the world of literature with one of the most popular and beloved literary series of all time. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published in the UK by Bloomsbury in 1997. The then unknown author took inspiration from her surrounding Edinburgh, with its incredible sense of place and other-worldly atmosphere. From the sweeping mythic allure of the Scottish Highlands, to the majesty of Edinburgh’s stunning architecture and charm, it is easy to see why Scotland is the birthplace of Harry Potter.

Visitors and locals alike can now embrace all things connected to the world’s most famous wizard using a brand new itinerary of locations created by VisitScotland. Whether it’s following in Harry’s footsteps on the Hogwarts Express, seeing the place where it was written, walking the streets that inspired Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, or simply seeing where Hogwarts is, Scotland is every Harry Potter fans’ dream. Suffice to say, these locations will be sure to envelope fans in the world of magic that has made the books and films some of the best known of all time and let them see where the Edinburgh-dweller writer Rowling found her inspiration.

Although JK Rowling admitted Harry Potter was conceived on a train journey, two Edinburgh cafes are also closely associated with the birth of the boy wizard. The Elephant House Cafe, a snug little place near Edinburgh’s George IV bridge, was where Rowling would sit in the backroom writing, with the beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle. The cafe has since become known as the ‘Birthplace of Harry Potter’.

Nicholson Cafe is the other Edinburgh institution where Rowling did her writing. Though Nicholson’s has since changed hands and is Spoon Cafe today, a JK Rowling plaque sits outside the building confirming that Rowling wrote some of the early chapters of Harry Potter in the rooms on the first floor.

Sitting just metres away from the Elephant House, and deep inside Edinburgh’s historical old town, is Greyfriars Kirkyard – a churchyard with atmospheric gravestones where visitors can see some very famous names. Rowling took breaks from her writing in this graveyard and may have taken inspiration for many of the characters from names carved on the tombstones here. One such name happens to be Thomas Riddell Esquire who lent his name to Tom Marvolo Riddle. Fans will remember him as the boy who would later adopt the evil alter-ego, Voldemort. Other familiar names can also be spotted in the cemetery, such as William McGonagall and Elizabeth Moodie, who may have inspired Rowling’s characters, Professor McGonagall and Mad-Eye Moody.

The imposing castle-like front wall of George Heriot’s School – with its four turrets and four corner courtyard – has obvious architectural similarities to the wizarding school of Hogwarts. Heriot’s also has four houses which pupils belong to, and it’s likely that Lauriston, Greyfriars, Raeburn and Castle partially inspired Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

Victoria Street is believed to be the place Rowling took inspiration for Diagon Alley. Not far from The Elephant Cafe, the winding cobbled road creates a magic of its own. With its historic architecture, elegant curve and colourful shop fronts, the street is one of the city’s most picturesque locations. Victoria Street even had a Royal Bank of Scotland and a stationery shop in approximately the same position as their magical counterparts, Gringotts and Flourish & Blott’s.

This amazing and luxurious 5-star hotel was where Rowling checked in to write her last book, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. Despite living in Edinburgh, Rowling sought sanctuary in Room 552 to complete the series. In 2008, the hotel received permission from the author to rename the room to The Rowling Suite. The 180 sqft room still has the writing desk used by the author, as well as the marble bust of Hermes on which she had scribbled in black marker: “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007.”

The only other change made to the room by the hotel is putting a brass plaque at the front of the door and replacing the original door knocker with a brass owl in homage to the author. A night will cost around £1,000, but visitors will no doubt find inspiration from this iconinc landmark hotel just like Rowling as she ended the series in spectacular fashion.

Visitors can see the place where many believe Rowling was inspired when imagining Hogwarts. The university’s hightower looks almost identical to that used in the film. The ancient university itself has a magic of its own, and its ancient rooms and gothic architecture will only inspire and charm.

In the films, mysterious, misty landscapes frame the backdrop of Harry’s tale, so it’s no surprise that the producers chose the Highlands for many scenes. Spend a day wandering through some of these beautiful spots and feel the magical atmosphere.

Visitors can see where Hogwarts sits in the enchanting Glen Coe. Glen Coe was used as the location of Hogwarts, with extensive scenes from The Philosophers Stone, The Goblet of Fire, Prison of Azkaban, The Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Parts 1&2. Visitors flock to the beautiful valley every year to see the location that brought Hogwarts to life on the big screen. You can also see Torren Lochan, the location of Hagrid’s hut.

Witness the sweeping cinematic scenery straight out of the eight blockbuster films by booking a seat on the Jacobite Steam Train, which travels from Fort William to Mallaig along the West Highland Line. Visitors will then travel over the famous bridge that takes pupils on their way to Hogwarts. The train line is regarded as one of the most scenic in the world and it’s easy to see why Rowling and filmmakers picked the spot.


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