J.K. Rowling did a marvelous job of bringing every aspect of the Harry Potter franchise to life, be it through her books, or through her unrelenting responsiveness to the questions of her fans. While the wizarding world is rich with magical detail, there is one place that yet remains shrouded in secrecy.
Stationed deep beneath the halls of the British Ministry of Magic, the Department of Mysteries continues to study and uncover the grandest and most terrifying secrets of the known world. Although the movies did grant us a few brief scenes featuring this place, what we saw raised more questions than answers. So, today, we delve into the known Harry Potter lore and illuminate these dark and restricted halls to reveal the creepiest facts about the Department of Mysteries.
10 It was there long before the Ministry
When it was established in 1707, the Ministry of Magic did not create the Department of Mysteries: it was built around it.
These secret chambers were presumably there long before the Ministry was even conceived, with the earliest records of the department's studies mentioned in the books dating as far as 1672. The report described the nature of magical powers: a witch or wizard cannot be created, he or she is born that way.
9 its secrets are beyond even the minister of magic
Although it operates under the scope of the Ministry of Magic, the wizarding institution has almost no influence over the operations conducted in the Department of Mysteries. Due to the highly classified nature of their work, the so-called "Unspeakables" occupying the department's halls are granted complete autonomy.
As the Department's crucial operations are carried out independently from the Ministry, the Minister also has little say in the matter. An incident with a former Minister for Magic proves this: holding the office from 1835 to 1841, minister Radolphus Lestrange attempted to close down the department, only to be ignored and later retire under suspicious circumstances.
8 It's almost impossible to enter
In an attempt to enter the Department of Mysteries, you will be met with a circular hall lit with numerous torches burning in a bluish-white color. The hall contains a dozen eerie, black, doors with no handles, each allegedly leading towards a chamber with a different area of study.
To make matters worse, the doors will shift every so often, making it impossible to determine which is which.
7 It contains a room full of human brains
Behind one of the the doors, the Department of Mysteries hides a room containing a large glass tank filled with a greenish liquid. Inside the tank float pale, slimy, human brains. Rowling left the purpose of these brains unanswered. However, some clues were scattered across the books that allow theories to be formed.
At some point, the Ministry was studying Muggle brain power. The brains may have even been used in Legilimency - the art of navigating another person's mind. Some of them may even belong to famous wizards or Muggles. In any case, the brains present no threat when left in the tanks; removing them will cause them to grow long and dangerous tentacles that wrap around anyone who comes close.
6 The Department works on manipulating time itself
Another door leads to the room that presumably deals with time itself. Rowling depicts it as rectangular, large, and littered with beautiful time pieces and clocks and curious contraptions. Of course, it also includes numerous time-turners, used to travel back in time. It is likely that the research of this section led to the creation of time-turners.
The Department of Mysteries had been conducting time travel experiments in the late 1890's, before realizing the horrible consequences of meddling with the past. Most notably, an Unspeakable named Eloise Mintumble traveled back to the 15th century where she was stuck for five full days. However, upon finally returning, her body instantly aged five centuries.
5 It contains a room that studies the most powerful and horrible force
The walls of this impenetrable room are said to hide the secrets of the most beautiful yet dangerous force known to man kind - love. No key or spell can unlock it, and even Harry's magical penknife melted when he attempted to use it on the door. J.K. Rowling imagines the room as containing a large fountain filled to the brim with Amortentia - a love potion more dangerous than any. It was exactly this force that repelled the Dark Lord when he tried to possess Harry during the battle of the Department of Mysteries, and that prevented him from killing Harry in the first place.
Also known as the "Ever-Locked Room," this chamber needs to forever remain locked, while the Unspeakables residing in it conduct their experiments with this powerful magic. Nevertheless, as neither the book nor the movie ever showed what truly lies behind its door, the contents of the Ever-Locked room remain up to interpretation.
4 Multiple scenes in the department of mysteries were filmed but omitted from the movie
In the novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Rowling describes our protagonists fighting in multiple chambers during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. In the book, the first chamber they enter is the aforementioned Brain Room. There's a scene where Ron picks up one of the floating brains from the tank, upon which the brain sprung out long lines of floating images that turned into tentacles, wrapping around Ron and suffocating him. We don't see much of this in the movie.
All of the scenes leading up to the final confrontation in the Death Chamber were indeed filmed, according to actor Matthew Lewis, but were unfortunately edited out of the final version of the movie.
3 The entire Hall of Prophecies was likely destroyed in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries
The Hall of Prophecies played a huge part in the aforementioned battle. It's described as an enormous room filled with towering shelves that hold bluish orbs of varying sizes. These orbs are protected by powerful defensive spells, that curse anyone other than the subject of the prophecies they hold if they dare touch them.
As the protagonists were defending themselves from the Death Eaters chasing them, they accidentally knocked down numerous shelves of prophecies. It is possible that all of the prophecies were destroyed as a result of the battle.
2 Inside the department's Death Chamber is the gate to the afterlife
Perhaps the eeriest part of the Department of Mysteries, the so-called Death Chamber, is merely a dark pit with a huge, crumbling stone archway that seems to be too old to support itself. Inside the archway floats a veil, separating the world of the living from the dead. Whispers can be heard emanating from the archway, luring people towards it.
Its origins are completely unknown, but according to Rowling, it's been there ever since the ministry was established.
1 It's more unique and important to the book's message than you may think
Although there are multiple Ministries of Magic situated in every country of the world, as far as we know, there is only one Department of Mysteries, and its activities and studies are crucial to the wizards' understanding of magic. We know that the American equivalent to the Ministry of Magic, the MACUSA, has no such department.
However, the meaning the Department of Mysteries bears is deeper than some may think. Studying matters like love, death, time, universe, and the human mind, the Department of Mysteries shows us that true magic does not lie in simple spells uttered throughout the books after all. To the readers, it remains an important reminder that the most powerful magic is present in the real world, and an equal mystery to Rowling's wise wizards as it is to us Muggles.