Some are homely and more similar to Muggle residences, while others are grand and dramatic and have magic oozing out of every brick. Here’s a list of the most interesting buildings we’d be very happy to pop over to visit if anyone’s offering.
The granddaddy of them all is, of course, Hogwarts: Harry’s home for so many years and a place that represented security and sanctuary. Hogwarts has meant so much to so many, and it’s known as one of the safest places in the wizarding world. Aesthetically, Hogwarts also takes the biscuit: a beautiful, dramatic castle with sprawling staircases, moving portraits, floating candles and so much more. Even Dumbledore professed to not know all of the castle’s secrets.
Invisible to the Muggle eye, no one is quite sure where Hogwarts is, apart from it being ‘somewhere in Scotland’ and knowing you need a great whopping train to get there. Well, either that or an illegal flying car. Once you do actually get there, it’s definitely worth the trip.
The grounds of Hogwarts are populated by a large, sprawling loch (known as The Great Lake), the Forbidden Forest and a huge Quidditch pitch. The surrounding areas of the castle are also host to an owlery, the Herbology greenhouses and Hagrid’s hut, complete with a lovingly honed vegetable patch.
The set-up of Hogwarts and its grounds has had some historical and personal touches over the years, such as the Whomping Willow, a rather embittered tree that was planted over the entrance to a secret house called the Shrieking Shack, built especially for Remus Lupin, due to his ‘furry little problem’ of turning into a werewolf.
And that’s all without even going into the interior, where the magic runs deep through every crevice. But don’t let us go on and on. You can read more about the secrets of Hogwarts here.
‘Oh, I would never dream of assuming I know all Hogwarts’ secrets, Igor,’ said Dumbledore amicably.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
You would think that bank robberies would be pretty easy in a world where Apparating is a common mode of transportation. So in order to protect everyone’s valuables, Gringotts needs to have impossibly tight security. And it does, in the form of a staff of goblins. Oh, and a dragon.
‘Yeah – so yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it, I’ll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry. Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safe – ’cept maybe Hogwarts.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
If you want to illegally access the bank you must first get past the goblins (in some cases the touch of a goblin is required to enter a vault, rather than a conventional key) and the dragon protects the more high-security vaults. There’s also the fact that the vaults occupy a vast cavern that is only accessible through carts.
By its very nature Gringotts is a deeply mysterious place, and the wizarding bank gives the impression that it harbours so much more than we are allowed to see. But perhaps Gringotts’ secrets are best kept secret.
Like Hogwarts, Azkaban and a few other well-known magical locations, number twelve, Grimmauld Place is unplottable, meaning it’s completely hidden from unsuspecting Muggles, and definitely won’t be found on any maps.
‘It’s ideal for Headquarters, of course,’ Sirius said. ‘My father put every security measure known to wizardkind on it when he lived here.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
There are a few reasons to hide number twelve, Grimmauld Place, which is secretly squished in the middle of a terraced street in London: firstly, it used to home The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, and you can bet none of Sirius’s family were interested in exchanging neighbourly pleasantries with any nearby Muggles. In more recent years, Grimmauld Place was repurposed as the official HQ for the Order of the Phoenix, and its unplottable status certainly helped. The infestation of Doxies? Not so much.
Yes, Grimmauld Place isn’t the most homely of places, what with all the dead, mounted house-elf heads on the walls, the portrait of Sirius’s screaming mother, and the looming presence of Dark magical artefacts. But there is a sort of… macabre beauty to it, wouldn’t you say?
Alright, perhaps not.
‘The Shrieking Shack’ is a bit of a misnomer for what is, in fact, a perfectly innocent shack. Of course, we don’t know this until the final events of Prisoner of Azkaban. Before this time, the Shrieking Shack is defined as an abandoned house, which you can access via a tunnel hidden under Hogwarts’ Whomping Willow, which is avoided by locals and students at all costs, due to persisting rumours that the building is haunted – the ‘most haunted in Britain’, no less.
The reality, of course, is that the Shrieking Shack isn’t haunted or home to some kind of malevolent creature: it was formerly the place where Lupin went when he needed to transform into a werewolf, who couldn’t be a lovelier guy. Apart from on full-moon days. Lupin’s deadly secret was, in fact, the real reason for all the screaming.
It was a room, a very disordered, dusty room. Paper was peeling from the walls; there were stains all over the floor; every piece of furniture was broken as though somebody had smashed it. The windows were all boarded-up.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Long after Lupin departed Hogwarts, the Shrieking Shack was left with a bit of a reputation, and became a Hogsmeade tourist attraction despite its unsightly design and distinct lack of ghostly presence. You’d have better luck just wandering the Great Hall of Hogwarts and bumping into Nearly Headless Nick.
While Hogwarts is grand and Gringotts is opulent, neither of those establishments has quite the ramshackle topsy turviness and chaotic joy of The Burrow. So tall it looks like it’s had quite a few extra floors magically fused on top, The Burrow is pretty much the house equivalent of a trifle. After all, there are a lot of Weasleys to fit in.
Tucked away somewhere in Devon, The Burrow is set aside a small orchard with a paddock, which has a tendency of being infested by pesky Gnomes. How Ron could ever do his family home down is beyond us, really.
‘It’s not much,’ said Ron.
‘It’s brilliant,’ said Harry happily, thinking of Privet Drive.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets