Are you a fan of Harry Potter? The friendly schoolboy wizard that guided the entire world through the most amazing magical adventures? So this article is right for you.
As you may know, J.K. Rowling took inspiration from many other stories, myths and places. And one of these places is Portugal and its second largest city: Porto. Discover now the intriguing relationship between this city and the Harry Potter series.
There’s a scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in which the stairs of Hogwarts don’t stop moving and take the little wizards to undesired places. Do you know where that idea came from? From a splendid bookshop that started as a normal and familiar business in 1906 – selling books – and that has become the most famous bookshop in the world – yes, I dare to say it! – and the most beautiful.
It’s not difficult to fall in love with this bookshop. The first time you see it you fell infatuated and it’s so easy to understand why J. K. Rowling used it as an inspiration. Those walls, shelves, books, and stairs, which gave birth to the stairs of Hogwarts, tell a thousand stories. It’s a pleasure, indeed!
Rowling was feeling the need to evade from England so she came to Portugal to teach English in a school. Porto was the chosen city and we believe that if the stars had not aligned this way, Harry Potter would have never been created, at least not as we know it. In fact, there are many myths in Portugal on how J. K. Rowling started or finished her first book. So, the legend says that Rowling finished her first book on one of the wonderful marble tables at this famous café.
Some even say that she started writing on napkins while enjoying a coffee without spending too much money but spending long hours there. Rowling and her ex-husband were usual customers and this connection to the books became so gigantic and well known that Majestic is now a touristic point. However, Majestic is absolutely an astonishing place in one of the most legendary and crowded streets of Porto – Santa Catarina.
University of Porto
It’s important to say that the University of Porto is one the most important of the country and it’s a worldwide-recognised institution. Though, we link Harry Potter to the University because of the black uniforms the students use. If you read Harry Potter you will immediately relate the little wizards to these uniforms, which have a significant message for Portugal. Some Portuguese tend to call them bats because the uniforms are mainly black and have a long black cape, so it’s easy to understand why they call them bats, but nowadays some people call them Harry Potters. If you come to Porto and see those students walking around with those uniforms don’t get surprised, they’re just taking a degree at the university.
A Club Called Swing
Being a teacher in Porto gave Rowling the opportunity to explore the city as she wanted and to know and live those places more intensively. This disco used to be a place where the writer used to go with her friends, Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely, who were her flatmates and in Harry Potter and the Azkaban Prisoner there’s a brief reference to them ‘To Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely, the godmothers of Swing’, apparently because they spent a lot of time there. Can you imagine Rowling dancing at the sound of the hits from the 90s and thinking on how to finish her masterpiece? A-ma-zing!
Gardens of Palácio de Cristal
Again, and as the Portuguese love a good myth, it is said that Rowling used to come to the Gardens during her time in Porto and it’s also said that she wrote some chapters here. Seeking for inspirational places, the Gardens made her create the Forbidden Forest or the Dark Forest, an old place in Harry Potter’s books with hidden secrets. Perhaps this is a far-fetched idea, but not totally misplaced. Nonetheless, these Gardens are a great idea for a walk with your family and a nice way to enjoy the city.
Truth or not, the evidence are crystal clear and even though J. K. Rowling hasn’t admitted her influences yet, we all know that Porto was an enormous inspiration for the writer while she was living here from 1991 to 1993. She is now the richest and most illustrious writer in the world and there’s not a single soul who has never heard about the famous Harry Potter.
And now you can discover more about these places with an exclusive Tour through the charming city of Porto. Our driver guide will explain these and other famed myths and you can also stroll through the most important streets and alleys of this “Invicta” land and admire its most notable monuments. A memorable journey!