The magical world of Harry Potter is a global phenomenon that no one could have anticipated. The wizarding world became such a desired concept that Universal Studios took it into their own hands to build the real-life Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and Hogsmeade materialized into actual brick-and-mortars so that now these once completely made up places can be visited by ambitious Potter fans. Yet, while avid vacationers can experience these fictitious settings, there are still some locations from the series that are based on real-life places. Want to know which is which? Here are five locations based on real-life places, and five that were completely made up.
10 Real: Kings Cross
Kings Cross is a busy train hub located in London, England and the spot in which Harry first runs at the walls between platforms nine and ten in order to get onto Platform 9 3/4. It's a focal setting in the Harry Potter series and holds a special place for the author. J.K. Rowling frequently tells of the notorious moment when she first thought of Harry Potter while on a train to Kings Cross station. The central station acts as a real transport spot for the bustling city and now pays tribute to the series. There is now a luggage trolly embedded into the wall between the two platforms at Kings Cross station.
9 Fantasy: Gringotts
Gringotts is the wizarding bank in Diagon Alley. It's obvious that this place is a work of the imagination from the moment audiences step into the goblin-guarded doors. This is the only wizarding bank and is completely operated by goblins, complete with dragon-enforced security. It is the oldest bank in Diagon Alley and holds witches' and wizards' Knuts, Galleons, and Sickles behind vaulted doors.
8 Real: Forest of Dean
Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend a considerable amount of time in the Forest of Dean when they are on the hunt for Voldemort's Horcruxes. Hermione apparates the trio here as she remembers vacationing there with her parents. The Forest of Dean's real geographical setting is in Gloucestershire, England. It's a lush green plateau that is surrounded by the River Wye. It's a popular tourist destination for camping Muggles, with plenty of tourists guides to follow.
7 Fantasy: The Forbidden Forest
The Forbidden Forest is the thicket of trees located on Hogwarts grounds. While the Scottish highlands where the artificial school sits is indeed a real place, the forest is not. What gives away this mythical setting is the fact that the Forbidden Forest is the home to creatures such as centaurs, unicorns, and giants. And the fact that a school would use this place for students to serve detention is also extremely unrealistic.
6 Real: The London Zoo
The zoo that Harry visits with the Dursely's in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is very real. In fact, they actually used this location to film that pivotal scene. it's here that Harry meets a boa constrictor and has his first conversation in Parseltongue. He then makes the glass barrier disappear, forcibly locking his cousin Dudley in the boa's artificial habitat. Obviously, safety measures are taken at the actual zoo to prevent this from happening... assuming there are no wizards around.
The books refer to it as a zoo in Surrey, but again, Surrey is a legitimate town in England that does indeed have several zoos to visit. Some hypothesize that the inspiration for the zoo actually comes from Chessington's World of Adventure in Surrey, as this specific zoo does have its own reptile house as portrayed in the films.
5 Fantasy: Godric's Hollow
Godric's Hollow is the small town where the Potter's raise Harry. It's meant to be a village in the West Country of England, but the name of the place itself is completely made up by Rowling. Godric's Hollow is named after Godric Gryffindor as the famed wizard was born here. It's also the location where Dumbledore, Grindelwald, and Aberforth's duel takes place, which results in the death of Ariana Dumbledore. The scenes for Godric's Hollow in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were filmed Lavenham, a village in Suffolk in England.
4 Real: Dartmoor, England
The setting for the Quidditch World Cup is mentioned to take place on the terrain in Dartmoor, England. The Ministry of Magic spent a year building the Quidditch Stadium in this grassland. They ended the construction by suffusing the area with Muggle-Repelling Charms so that non-magical folk couldn't detect the overloaded event. Dartmoor's real location is a 368-square mile national park in south Devon, England. It is a moorland, meaning it is comprised mostly of forests, wetlands, and uncultivated hill land.
3 Fantasy: Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley is the alleyway that holds a collection of magical shops where witches and wizards can purchase spellbooks, wands, and chocolate frogs. Although Diagon Alley now has a real-life physical location in all of Universal's theme parks, the concept was an idea born from J.K. Rowling's fantasy. Many believe that the inspiration for Diagon Alley comes from Leadenhall Market, which is a narrow shopping strip in London, England.
2 Real: Crystal Cave
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore embark on the first of many quests to collect Voldemort's Horcruxes. Dumbledore knows that the locket of Salazar Slytherin is hidden in a seaside cave, a special place that Tom Riddle visited in his youth. The cave is supposedly inspired by a real cave known as the Crystal Cave. The book and the movie both negate the use of an actual name, however, promotional merchandise for the film refers to it as the "Crystal Cave". The filmmaker also took inspiration from a salt crystal cave in Frankfurt, Germany.
1 Fantasy: Hogwarts
Although painful to admit, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is not a real place. The gorgeous castle set up in the Scottish Highlands is only the masterful work of the brilliant author. However, it might comfort some to know that the locations used to depict the magical school was real-life places. Alnwick Castle in the U.K. was used as the basis for the castle in the first two Harry Potter films, with the interior being that of the Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucestershire, England. The Great Hall inside of Hogwarts was filmed as a mix between the set at Leavesden Film Studios and Christ Church in Oxford England.