Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is a global phenomenon. The school of Hogwarts is the setting for the majority of the Harry Potter books and movies. We take a closer look at Hogwarts here.

The Definitive Glossary for Harry Potter

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a very famous school of magic and the only magical school in Great Britain. It is a very prestigious wizarding school set up in the Scottish Highlands around the year 990 AD. It was established by four of the greatest wizards of their time – Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. The school was located in a huge castle surrounded by a large lake called the Black Lake, a dense forest known as the Forbidden Forest, and a large Quidditch stadium. It accepted students with the ability to do magic from Great Britain and Ireland. Other popular magic schools include Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, Durmstrang Institute, and Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Hogwarts maintained a strong bond with other magical institutions like the Ministry of Magic and Gringotts Bank, as a large part of their student body would eventually work in some of these fine institutions. Some of the greatest wizards and witches of their respective eras have had ties with Hogwarts in some form or another. Even students who passed Hogwarts earlier were known to visit it and also show their loyalty when it was needed. 

Hogwarts Castle

The Hogwarts Castle was a beautiful establishment residing on top of the rocks over the Black Lake. It was known to be a witness to around a millennium’s worth of magic and was therefore supposed to contain ancient magic of its own. The Astronomy Tower, the Gryffindor Tower and the Ravenclaw Tower were almost the same height and the castle’s tallest points. It had one hundred and forty-two staircases that constantly changed positions. This would confuse first years sometimes as they were not used to the building and its strange magic. Even the grand staircase was prone to such movements, which sometimes caused confusion.

Several of these stairs led to dormitories where the Hogwarts students resided. Each dormitory had a common room and would then divide into boys’ and girls’ dormitories.  The castle consisted of several rooms and had several magical secrets within it that weren’t always evident. For instance, almost everybody, including Albus Dumbledore, believed the Chamber of Secrets to be a myth but it was eventually proved to exist when Harry Potter went into it to save Ginny Weasley. Other rooms like the Room of Requirement were also protected by ancient magic, which allowed it to present itself only when someone seeking it came along. There were several passageways into Hogwarts, including one from Honeydukes and another from the Shrieking Shack. 

The castle was also protected from muggles by several spells and charms. It looked like an ancient ruin and had several signs of danger that discouraged muggles from going closer to it. Electrical equipment and electronic devices like computers and cellphones were inactive in the castle because of the strong magic and the numerous charms that surrounded the castle. Furthermore, apparition and disapparition were also not possible from anywhere inside the castle or on the grounds of Hogwarts. However, it is believed that the headmaster of Hogwarts is given some power in conditionally changing this. In the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Albus Dumbledore disapparates from the Astronomy Tower with Harry Potter.

The books of the Harry Potter series describe the castle in great detail, including several passageways and portraits. The scenes of the beloved Harry Potter films were mostly shot in Alnwick castle of Northumberland County, England. One of the things Hogwarts is famous for is its architecture, and Alnwick castle is a very apt castle with Hogwarts features. It is open for fans to visit and was also used in the filming of the TV series Downton Abbey.


The school’s motto is Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus which translates to “Never tickle a sleeping dragon” in Latin. The school was established in 990 A. D. by the four founders of Hogwarts, who went on to eponymously name their houses. The house system was meant to permit students who fit the expectation of each founder and had virtues that the founders deemed worthy. For instance, bravery was the virtue that Godric Gryffindor looked for, intelligence was Rowena Ravenclaw’s requirement, a hardworking nature was what Helga Hufflepuff wanted in her students, and wit and cunning were Salazar Slytherin’s requirements.

The founders had a very peaceful existence when the school began, but eventually, Salazar Slytherin began to favor Pure-blooded students. His fanaticism for blood purity and demand for the exclusion of muggleborn witches and wizards into the magical community and into Hogwarts as students created a rift between the founders. Godric Gryffindor was especially against this discrimination and wanted magic to be accessible to anyone with magical abilities. Slytherin eventually decided to build a chamber in the school for one of his heirs to eventually use to rid the school of muggleborn students. This chamber also housed a giant Basilisk which added to the long history of ancient magic in the castle.

The Hogwarts castle has been inhabited by several ghosts and Peeves the Poltergeist for a very long time. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, also known as Nearly Headless Nick, was the ghost of Gryffindor. The Fat Friar was the Hufflepuff ghost, the Bloody Baron was the ghost of Slytherin, and the Grey Lady, who was eventually revealed to be Helena Ravenclaw, was the ghost of Ravenclaw. The castle also had many portraits that could move and talk on the walls and as entrances to dormitories. The entrance to the Gryffindor dormitory had the portrait of the Fat Lady, who would ask for the password, without which a student couldn’t enter the dormitory. She once escaped her original portrait and ran away to hide in another portrait on the seventh floor when Sirius Black attacked her. The portrait of Sir Cadogan was used to replace the Fat Lady. He would constantly annoy the students with his tales of chivalry.

Classes And Subjects

There are several subjects offered at Hogwarts. While almost all subjects are of magical importance, some subjects like Astronomy are also taught in muggle universities. Furthermore, Muggle Studies is also taught at Hogwarts separately for those who want to pursue careers that require contact with muggles.

Subjects like Herbology, Potions, Transfiguration, and Charms are taught at Hogwarts in the first school year itself and continue to be in the core curriculum till most students’ seventh years. However, some other subjects like Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Arithmancy, and Astronomy are added in the third year as electives and are not all taken by every student. However, there were exceptions to this, as Hermione Granger started off her third year by taking all the subjects that were offered to the third-year students at Hogwarts. However, she eventually dropped Divination as she didn’t like its irrational vague approach, and the pressure of homework and assignments was making it very difficult for her.

Teachers And Staff Members

There were several professors of renown at Hogwarts throughout history. At the time of Harry Potter’s schooling, there were several great teachers at Hogwarts. Professor Albus Dumbledore served as the headmaster of Hogwarts during this time. Professor Minerva McGonagall was the Transfiguration professor and was also the Headmistress in charge in Dumbledore’s absence.

Professor Severus Snape, who taught Potions, was also the headmaster of Hogwarts for a short while after Dumbledore’s death. The position of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was said to be cursed by Lord Voldemort, which is why no teacher for this specific subject could ever stay and teach for more than a year. Professor Filius Flitwick taught Charms, Professor Pomona Sprout taught Herbology, Professor Sybill Trelawney and the centaur Firenze taught Divination, Rubeus Hagrid, who was also the gamekeeper and keeper of the keys and the school grounds, taught Care of Magical Creatures.

Other teachers included Professor Aurora Sinistra, Professor Charity Burbage, Professor Septima Vector, Professor Bathsheda Babbling, Professor Cuthbert Binns, and Professor Wilhelmina Grubbly Plank. Other important staff included the Head Healer of the Hospital Wing Poppy Pomfrey, the Flying Instructor Rolanda Hooch, the Librarian Irma Pince, and the caretaker Mr Filch.

Sorting Ceremony

The Sorting Ceremony and the beginning of the year feast would both commence on September 1 every year, in the Great Hall on the day all the students would return to Hogwarts from their end-of-term vacations and the first years would see Hogwarts for the first time. The first years were then sorted into their respective houses by the Sorting Hat.

The Sorting Hat was a ragged hat that could talk and was considered sentient and capable of identifying the students’ inclinations and abilities. It would sing a song every year and then sort the students into the houses it thought they would fit into most. The songs sung by the Sorting Hat usually had a hint of mystery in them as they would claim very random yet meaningful things in the songs. In the Harry Potter books, there is some mention of the first six Sorting Ceremonies because Harry, Ron, and Hermione attend Hogwarts for all these years. However, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there is no mention of the Sorting Ceremony whatsoever.

How To Become A Student

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is usually a dream school for most students in magical households. For muggle-born students, it is usually a very exciting experience to realize that they are capable of doing magic and of knowing that they will be going to a magical school for the next seven years. 

Children who stay in wizarding households are sent acceptance letters asking them to join Hogwarts by owl mail. Along with this letter, students are also sent lists of books and equipment they have to buy. Most students buy these things from Diagon Alley, a magical suburb in London. Then, on September 1, every year, these children go to Platform Nine and Three Quarters in King’s Cross Station, usually accompanied by their parents or guardians, to board the Hogwarts Express. The Hogwarts Express takes all the first-year students to Hogwarts. After landing in Hogsmeade station, Rubeus Hagrid, the gamekeeper of Hogwarts, takes the first years on boats through the Great Lake, where they get their first glimpse of Hogwarts.

Children who have muggle parents or are brought up by muggle guardians are sent a representative from Hogwarts who explains the process and also assists the student and their parents with the admission procedure. They then do the same things that students from wizarding households do and finally go to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, where all the students board the Hogwarts Express.

Why Were Parents Oblivious to the Mortal Perils of Hogwarts?

One of the most interesting debates that follow the idea of a school like Hogwarts is how well would a school like Hogwarts fare in the real world. However, all magic aside, the major problem with Hogwarts is how dangerous it is for students. Every school year in Hogwarts is somehow related to perils like mountain trolls, dark wizards, giant snakes, spiders, murderers, and even bureaucrats trying to somehow put the students of the school in mortal danger. Any school in the real world with these problems would probably be shut down in no time after angry parents would protest the dangers the school caused to its students.

However, since this is a magical world with its own rules and context, it is assumed that the nature of the dangers was not as scary as one from the real world would perceive them to be. For instance, the Wizarding Wars did not stop the progress of education at Hogwarts, just like several schools that still functioned during the World Wars. The threats posed by mountain trolls, murderers, and even the dementors were all countered in the best ways possible, and almost always, there was no death as such in the school, at least in the seven years that the Harry Potter books narrate.

It is believed that the parents of the students at Hogwarts knew how dangerous it was studying there but trusted the staff and the headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, to make sure that no grave danger came to their children. Furthermore, many of the parents of the current students were students at Hogwarts themselves a few decades ago and were aware of the Hogwarts experience and wanted their children to have the same.


Where is Hogwarts School in real life?

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a fictional school in J. K. Rowling’s famed Harry Potter book series. It, therefore, doesn’t exist in real life. However, it is believed that the school is located near the Scottish Highlands in Scotland, Great Britain in the story. Most children who were wizards or witches from Great Britain and Ireland would attend Hogwarts as it is the only known magical school in this fictitious version of Great Britain. The Alnwick Castle served as the representation of Hogwarts Castle in the movie adaptations of Harry Potter.

What are the 11 schools of witchcraft and wizardry?

There are said to be a total of eleven magical schools all over the fictitious version of the world created by J. K. Rowling in her Harry Potter books. Out of these, three of the schools and their locations are unknown. The known schools include Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in France, Durmstrang Institute in Northern Europe, probably near Bulgaria, Ilvermorny in the United States of America, Castelobruxo in Brazil, Mahoutokoro School of Magic in Japan, Uagadou School of Magic in Uganda and Koldovstoretz in Russia.

How long is a year at Hogwarts?

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry began functioning on September 1 every year with the arrival of its students by Hogwarts Express and the Sorting Ceremony. The school was similar to most British schools in terms of schedule as it had a three-term system with holidays in between during Christmas and Easter. The school year ended with the End of Term examinations and a long drawn-out summer vacation followed for nine weeks before the new academic year started.

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