Historic Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England, was the location for many scenes from the first two Harry Potter movies, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."
So, during the past two years, the owners of the castle have been running Harry Spotter tours. Led by "look-alike" Harry Potter characters, these are a fun way to find landmarks from the movies and some of the stories behind the filming.
Here are some interesting facts from my Harry Spotter tour guide, Paul Burdon.
•The barbican (fortified tower) is where the class flying lessons and Harry's first Quidditch session take place in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
•Harry flies around the statues that are placed throughout the castle ramparts. These were originally put there to fool potential invaders into thinking that the castle had a great army within.
•Neville gets stuck on one of the statues, but it was actually a prop made for that scene.
•The entrance of Hogwarts was the front door of the castle.
•The snow in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" was made of shredded paper. "It took ages to vacuum up afterwards," says Mr. Burdon.
•Hagrid's hut was built on the green just outside the castle walls. The trees nearby became the Forbidden Forest.
•The flying car in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" entered Hogwarts through the Lion Arch at the side of the castle.
•Twelve Ford Anglias were used as the flying car, three of which were totaled.
•The whomping willow was a prop added to the inner courtyard.
•Four hundred and fifty extras were used in some scenes, many of whom were children from local schools. They were bused in each day, and got to enjoy a huge breakfast and a three-course lunch for their efforts. There were so many people to feed that the food had to be served in a makeshift camp in the surrounding pastures.
•Three snowy owls were used as Hedwig. It was a demanding role!
Warner Bros. also filmed parts of the Harry Potter films at other locations across England.
•The great hall was filmed at Christ Church in Oxford,part of Oxford University.
•The Bodleian Library, also at Oxford University, was used for some of the interiors of Hogwarts.
•Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters served as Hogwarts corridors.
•Charing Cross Road in London was used aspart of Diagon Alley, as was Leadenhall Market in London.
•Kings Cross Station in London played itself and is the site for the famous platform 9-3/4. So many Harry Potter fans came looking for the missing platform that officials have now built one. But no trains leave from it – at least none that can be seen by this Muggle!
• For more information on Harry Potter film sites in Britain, see www.historic-uk.com/ DestinationsUK/HarryPotter.htm.