The inspiration behind the books…

As some fans might know, the author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling, used to live in Edinburgh. When walking around Edinburgh Old Town, it is not hard to see where she has found inspiration to many of the locations in the books. The old buildings, crooked streets and great castles could very well have been taken directly from the enchanting universe. The city does offer a couple of extra special locations for true Harry Potter fans.

I’ll admit that you have to have a serious interest in the history behind the books to find this interesting. But even though you are not a Potterhead, you can still visit these places and see them for what they really are; Charming parts of the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

The Elephant House and Balmoral Hotel

It has never been a secret that J.K. Rowling wasn’t exactly wealthy as she started to write about Harry Potter. You might actually say that she was the opposite of wealthy. By all accounts, it was on the small café, The Elephant House, that she started the writing process. It was cheaper to buy a cup of coffee here than to pay for heat in her apartment. In glaring contrast to this is the grandiose Balmoral Hotel where she – 6 books and several million pounds richer – rented a suite in which she finished the last book.

The Elephant House in EdinburghBalmoral Hotel Edinburgh
The impressive Balmoral Hotel with its beautiful bell tower.

Victoria Street

Right around the corner of The Elephant House is Victoria Street. The small, crooked street with its colorful shops could really look like something that has been an inspiration to the lively Diagon Alley in the books. Victoria Street even has a shop filled with fun and jokes. They might not be as fun and magical as in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, but I am sure that you can find some of those muggle magic tricks that a certain Weasley find very interesting…

Victoria Street

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Very close to Victoria Street is Greyfriars Kirkyard located. This cemetery has a striking resemblance to the one described in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. If you take a closer look on the gravestones you might find several names that sound familiar if you know your Harry Potter. Especially the gravestone of Thomas Riddle should be well visited around Halloween by Potter fans from around the world.

Greyfriars Kirkyard EdinburghGreyfriars Kirkyard EdinburghGreyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh

Another celebrity you can find at Greyfriars Kirkyard is the Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. Or to be more accurate; you can find his gravestone, and outside the cemetery you can see a statue of him. The story about the little dog who watched his late owners grave every day for 14 years is apparently known all over the world. I will have to admit that I did not know of this story, but it is clear to see that the little statue is very popular.

Greyfriars Bobby Edinburgh

Find your way

Victoria Street, Greyfriars Kirkyard and The Elephant House are all located very close to each other. On the map below you can see where to find these three places:

The Balmoral Hotel is located a bit further away, but still in walking distance from Old Town. The hotel is located right next to the train station at Princes Street:

Visited in June 2016

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Edinburgh for Harry Potter Fans


Questions or comments?