Harry Potter’s Porto Connections
It’s obviously a celebrated fact in Porto, but JK Rowling moved to Porto in 1991 to work as an English teacher in a language institute after her first marriage ended.
As she says, “Nine months after my mother’s death, desperate to get away for a while, I left for Portugal. I took with me the still-growing manuscript of Harry Potter, hopeful that my new working hours (I taught in the afternoon and evening) would lend themselves to pressing on with my novel.”
She was writing what became Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone at the time, and used the mornings to sit in cafes around town and write.Some ideas in the final version of the book, and even the some aspects in the movie owe their conception to everyday life in Porto and Portugal.
Students at the University of Porto wear a black cape (even in summer!) as part of their clothing to lectures. You see them walking along footpaths loaded down with books, but they also can be seen writing notes in bars and cafes around town.
(We also had capes as part of our uniform at boarding school, however it was teamed with horrible “church shoes” and was generally only worn in the depths of winter in a non-heated buildings, so ours were probably not as romantic or mysterious looking.)
Livraria Lello Bookstore:
The narrow facade of this bookshop is Neo-Gothic design. The interior however is astonishing, with its amazing spiral Art Nouveau staircase that is circular but also folds back on itself. It’s easy to see how this small building stuffed with books influenced the newly forming Harry Potter world.
If you want to be able to actually see the interior of this bookshop you had better be waiting outside when it opens at 10am. It’s a major tourist drawcard (Lonely Planet has rated it the 3rd best bookshop in the world) so if you leave it later than 10:30 to visit, you will not be able to move inside for the throng of people and their cameras (which they are not able to use as there is a strict no-photo rule).
the name Salazar – original founder of Hogwart’s Slytherin house is thought to be a reference to António de Oliveira Salazar – a fascist dictator who ruled Portugal for 38 years
Porto of full of small streets and crooked alleyways. It’s the second largest city in Portugal, but wandering around in the alleyways and side streets there are times when you are the only person around. Especially on Sunday when all the shops are closed and everything pretty much grinds to a halt.
I got back to my apartment that night after a day spent wandering around, and what should be showing on television, but Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Harry’s Porto influences have now made me view the Harry Potter universe in a new light.