The Scottish capital, where the author of the Harry Potter saga still lives, is the real home of the little wizard. Even if Rowling says he imagined him on a late train between Manchester and London, Edinburgh is full of places that inspired him from near and far. She has never confirmed direct links between real and fictional locations, but she has always said that she drew her inspiration from her surroundings.
Getting lost in the closes of the Royal Mile and seeing Rowling’s handprints
In the courtyard of Edinburgh City Hall on the Royal Mile, opposite St. Giles Cathedral, take a look at a walled garden and see where it leads. Whether it’s a quiet little square, a busy street, or an endless staircase, it’s the element of surprise that gives Edinburgh’s Old Town that supernatural air. On the sides of the City Hall courtyard, look at the pavements and look for the handprints of J. K. Rowling, honored by the City of Edinburgh in 2008, alongside those of Ian Rankin, another famous Edinburgh writer.
Writing the first pages of the saga in a cafe
Perhaps the place most readily associated with the beginnings of the Harry Potter adventure is The Elephant House Café on George IV Bridge. With a sign indicating that this is the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter’, no wonder the establishment is so popular. It’s easy to see why a young author might make it her home to write: the pastries and tea are excellent and cheap, and the view of George Heriot’s School is breathtaking. The architecture looks familiar? This very chic private school, which in the 17th century housed orphaned students, may indeed remind one of Hogwarts. The students are divided into four houses, just like in Harry Potter.
Not far away, on Nicolson Street, Rowling used to go to another café: it’s now a restaurant called Spoon, but you can always go upstairs for a cup of tea.
Going to Voldemort’s Tomb
Many stories, each one more chilling than the last, come from the Greyfriars cemetery. It is also on the graves of this cemetery that we can find familiar names of fans of the Potter universe, such as McGonagall, Scrymgeour, and above all, a certain Thomas Riddell… who echoes the name of the Dark Lord himself, Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Savor the glory and success
To end your walk, head towards Princes Street, the main shopping street in the city center, and, more specifically, the Balmoral. With its clock tower, it is not only one of the most striking features of the skyline, but also one of the most beautiful hotels in Scotland. It was in room 552, now called the J. K. Rowling Suite, that the author put the finishing touches to the seven volumes of the Deathly Hallows saga. Here you can spend a night and admire the marble bust of Hermes that she signed before leaving for the modest sum of £1,500.