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Following the trail of Harry Potter in Oporto

The film "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald", a spin-off written by JK Rowling about the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander, comes out this month.

Unlike the Harry Potter saga, which takes place in the UK, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is set in the US. But we're pretty sure you didn't know that part of the inspiration for this magical universe was found in a very special city: Oporto. The author lived there in the early 1990s and part of the city's history, architecture and traditions inspired the stories of the young wizard.

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Harry Potter and Edimburgh

Speaking of Harry Potter and Edinburgh recalls inevitably the image of a young JK Rowling huddled in the corner of a coffee, drawing on the paper his imagined universe as time flies and steaming coffee cup empties slowly. Although it is difficult to know to what extent, it is undeniable that Rowling was inspired by the scenery of the Scottish capital in order to populate his world of characters and fantastic places, as itwas in Edinburgh where the first wizard’s adventures took form in the early 90 where Rowling ended the last book in the series in 2007. Many fans of Harry move to the city to follow the first steps of a child who one day received a letter that would change his life.


In 1994, Rowling and her young daughter, still a baby, moved to Edinburgh from Portugal, where she worked as an English teacher. When she arrived in Scotland, the idea of Harry Potter spent years in the making. Rowling had already written the first chapters of the first book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosophical Stone.”


During the winter of 1994, Rowling started to frequent several cafes in town, where she spent hours writing in a notebook while her daughter was dozing peacefully beside her after walking her around the streets of Edinburgh.

In the beginning, Rowling went to a cafe today disappeared, Nicholson’s Café, in Nicholson Street. Counts the history that, for the price of a coffee, she was allowed to spend the whole evening writing on site. Today another cafe, Spoon,takes its place.

The Elephant House , on George IV Bridge is the cafe that more closely relate to Rowling.Although in an inscription and a drawing on the glass The Elephant House claims to be “the birthplace of Harry Potter ‘, the fact is that did not open until 1995, and by then the first book in the series progressed fluently. But it is true that the author wrote many evenings at a back table in the cafe, by the window, whose splendid views over the castle and Greyfriars Cemetery inspired her to build the story. Throughout the years, fans of the series have filled the walls of the toilettes at The Elephant House of entries:

Rowling went on visiting the cafes of the city long after her books became a bestseller, but while writing the fourth volume, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, her growing fame forced her to give up this practice.

Greyfriars Graveyard

It is said that Greyfriars cemetery, one of the best known in Edinburgh because of the alleged apparitions by odd dwellers from beyond and the legend of Bobby the Dog, inspired the mythic and dreary graveyard scene from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, in which Voldemort returns to its physical shape and fights a duel with Harry.

There are two places not to miss in this cemetery. First one is the grave of William McGonagall, a writer who’s been awarded the title of worst poet in British history. It is rumoured that the name of Professor Minerva McGonagall comes from here as Rowling noted it was a curious contrast between this minor poet and a brilliant woman as the teacher. The second intesresting place is a tombstone in which lie a father and a son called Thomas Riddell. In English books, Voldemort’s real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle and although written differently, father and grandfather “who must not be named “ also shared the name of Tom/Thomas, and Harry visit their graves in novels

George Heriot’s School

Quite close to Greyfriars cemetery stands the stunning Gothic building of George Heriot’s School, whose founder, George Heriot, planned as a schoolwhere orphans received free education. Today is a prestigious private school, and Rowling said she was inspired by it to create the unforgettable Hogwarts. In fact, students at George Heriot’s School are divided into four houses, as the wizards of Hogwarts: Lauriston (marked by the green color), Greyfriars (white), Raeburn (red) and Castle (blue) . Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw? During the course, each student aspires to earn points for their respective house, which are achieved thanks to a good academic performance, among others things. Usually the school can not be accessed, but sometimes opens its doors in days like the Open Doors Day.

Balmoral Hotel

While the first books of Harry Potter were born in humble cafes, Rowling wrote the last lines of the novel that closes the series in a luxury room in Balmoral Hotel, one of the most prestigious and expensive in the city. She was staying in Suite 552 while finishing the book and, when completed, let the following words written on a marble bust, “On January 11th, 2007, JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ in this room. ”

Other places

There are many other parts of the city somehow related to the author of Harry Potter’s saga. For example, just before the publication of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, a draw was called and 70 children, who were winners, enjoyed a weekend in the castle of Edinburgh, dressed in Hogwarts for the occasion. Rowling met children who came to the castle in carriages, and answered their questions, gave them signed copies of the new book and invited them to various events and banquets.

Furthermore, it is believed that Rowling created the lively Diagon Alley, where magicians come to stock up on all the material needed, inspired by a popular and colorful street in Edinburgh, Victoria Street, which is also packed with shops, such as a popular joke shop in the style of the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

It is also said that J.K. Rowling based the Sorting Hat, a hat of thousands years old that young wizards get on arrival at Hogwarts to have a house assigned, in a tradition that takes place in the graduation ceremony of the University of Edinburg , in which the students rise up the stage one by one as the Provost give them a knock with that historic hat in the head.

In one corner of the Edinburgh City Chambers on the Royal Mile, hands belonging to outstanding personalities of the city are immortalized, and JK Rowling was the second to receive this honor, after writer Ian Rankin. Today, Rowling still resides in Edinburgh most of the time, so if you’re in the series, keep your eyes open, because she might be seen around town.

If you walk a Saturday through the park of the Meadows, you will find football games, rugby … and Quidditch trainings! Although it began as a fictional sport , soon it became real and for years many American and British universities have their own team. One of the features is that is played on a broom, but, unlike the books, not flying.


Most tours of Edinburgh mentioned the Harry Potter tour at some point, and there is also a specialized tour Magician Potter, which, despite being a nice route that will provide information and take you to the sites listed above, does not give access to any private building or having a high added value with respect to a ride that you yourself designed for you by the center (see map for details).

Picture by Eiscir 

By Angie from Más Edimburgo 

Why not take a trip to Edinburgh? Have a look at our flights here!




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It doesn’t matter which house you belong to: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. Here are three magical plans (also suitable for kids!) for you to enjoy in the Muggle city of London.

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Livraria Lello e Irmao

It is no wonder that it chose to this library to film some scenes from the Harry Potter saga. It breathes a magical atmosphere. Its art deco details and neogothic style, the access ladder to the top floor, the large stained glass windows of the roof or the wooden bridge that crosses it, make this place more than a simple library to buy books.

The Livraria Lello e Irmao, called Livraria Lello to simplify, located in the Centre of the city in a beautiful building of neo-Gothic style, it is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe and is, with the bookstore Bertrand in Lisbon, one of the oldest in Portugal. Located in the Centre of the city, in a beautiful neo-Gothic style building.

Image: Alegna13

A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.



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