Have you ever fancied walking in Harry Potter’s footsteps and experiencing the thrills and spills of Diagon Alley for yourself?
Well now you can, right from your very own browser. Diagon Alley has been added to Google Maps!
If you’ve ever wondered whether the alley where Harry, Hermione and Ron go to get their Hogwarts’ supplies is real, whether The Leaky Cauldron does indeed open up to a secret passage safely hidden from Muggles in the back streets of London, well now you’ve got your answer.
It’s very real and the living proof is embedded into Google Maps for all to see.
A brief (and recent) history of Diagon Alley
The first glimpse we Muggles got of the infamous road was when Hagrid tapped on a common-or-garden brick wall (for all intents and purposes) that lay beyond The Leaky Cauldron.
Not only was it our first glimpse, but it was affirmation for Harry Potter that the wizarding world was alive, well and all too accessible as long as you had a friend in magic to take you there.
The affable Rubeus Hagrid had walked Diagon Alley many a time and soon helped the young wizard pick a wand from Ollivander’s Wand Shop (or does the wand pick the wizard?), purchased Hedwig the owl from Eeylops Owl Emporium for Harry’s 11th birthday and a whole manner of other school supplies in anticipation for the orphan’s first term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Diagon Alley appears in many of Harry’s adventures
The misguided attempt to reach the street using The Weasley’s Floo System, sending him instead to Borgin and Burkes, gave us our literal interpretation of the name as Harry’s command was interpretted as diagonally, not Diagon Alley.
It was at Flourish and Blotts school supply shop on the alley that Lucius Malfoy first met Harry Potter and learned of the young wizard’s blatant disregard of the taboo that surrounded mentioning Lord Voldermort’s name.
It was not a coincidental meeting. Malfoy slipped Tom Riddle’s Diary into Ginny Weasley’s schoolbag and the whole Chamber of Secrets escapade was to hinge around that very act.
The darkness sets in
In later films, as Voldermort’s return became undeniable and wizards and witches no longer felt safe walking the streets day or night for fear of Death Eaters, Diagon Alley became a somber place.
In the desperate search for the Horcrux’ that would eventually decide the battle between Potter and Voldemort, the good versus evil tug-of-war that dogged Harry until the end of the Second Wizarding War, Diagon Alley was oft to be found home to snatchers.
This abandonment of the restaurants and boutiques that had once made the Alley so resplendent left it open to the abuse of Voldemort’s cohorts and wizards who had no choice other than to risk its perils.
Thankfully, since Voldemort was once again banished, Diagon Alley is once more a light, colourful place.
The posters of Death Eaters who were ‘wanted’ are nothing but memory and the shops, including Fred and George’s ‘Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’ and Gringotts Bank, are bright, prosperous places once again.
Ollivanders’ Wand Shop almost 2,500 years old
Despite records indicating that Ollivanders owned a wand shop on Diagon Alley since the fourth century BC, this particular post code still eludes Muggles.
Even having geographical locations on the Google Map, Muggles may yet struggle to find Diagon Alley.
Legend has it that The Leaky Cauldron, through which the Alley is accessed, is situated on Charing Cross Road.
Although everyone knows of its existence, even that the pub lies between a record shop and a bookshop, Muggles have been cursed with a type of selective blindness that makes the ancient boozer invisible to anyone other than members of the wizard world.
Beware of Knockturn Alley, the ‘dodgy place’
If you do find it, be wary of Knockturn Alley, a side road off the main alleyway housing the aforementioned Borgin and Burkes where Tom Riddle worked after leaving Hogwarts.
Borgin and Burkes is just one of many shops trading in artifacts of the Dark Arts along Knockturn Alley, that even Hagrid referred to as a ‘dodgy place’.
However, as well as giving Tom Riddle employ, it was also where Draco Malfoy, Lucius’ son, travelled to when assisting Voldemort’s closest allies to gain access to Hogwarts through an ancient vanishing cabinet, an act that would eventually cost Dumbledore, headmaster of the school and mentor to Harry Potter, his life.
But you’ve got to get to Diagon Alley first. If you know to a good old-fashioned fireplace that looks like it’s been around for a while, why not try a sprinkling of Floo Powder and see where that gets you.
Remember, speak clearly as you command you destination or else who knows where you may end up or, indeed, who you may bump into along the way…