Features

Behind the scenes: Designing Hogwarts castle

Visualising a location as iconic as Hogwarts for a major motion picture is no easy task. It takes research, imagination – and sometimes a bit of cheating.

Hogwarts through some trees
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Extracted from Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey.
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Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had to be grounded in reality.

‘An early decision was not to make it whimsical, not to make it a fairy-tale castle, but to make it heavy, enduring, and real,’ explains production designer Stuart Craig. ‘Here is a story about an English public school, so we made it as much like one as we possibly could.’

Hogwarts courtyeard with Harry and Hedwig
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

And so Craig looked first to ‘the two great universities in England – Oxford and Cambridge. But we also went to the great European cathedrals. We wanted Hogwarts to be in the medieval gothic style, which is strong and dynamic, and so we cherry-picked from everywhere – the best from the universities, the best from the cathedrals – and then slammed them together.’

Although designed to look and feel like an enduring institution, Hogwarts has evolved to match the needs of the story over the course of eight films.

An illustration of Hogwarts through the trees
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

‘The way to go would have been able to read right through the seven books when we started,’ Craig laughs. ‘But I think some of these changes and additions have added a level of interest to the films. We’ve moved things around, let things expand, had them develop, or made them disappear altogether.’

An illustration of Hogwarts and Hogsmead station
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

An illustration of a sunlit Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Page to Screen
Harry Potter: Page to Screen Harry Potter: Page to Screen

Extracted from
‘Harry Potter: Page to Screen'