Is Diagon Alley A Real Place? How to Visit the Inspiration for 'Harry Potter's Best Marketplace

Have you been tapping at bricks to see if there's a hidden wizarding alley behind them? Okay, maybe that's just me. With ABC Family's latest Harry Potter Weekend upon us and Universal Studios Orlando's Diagon Alley opening, many fans must be wondering about where the real Diagon Alley is. Because who really wants to stand in never-ending lines at Universal Studios when you could see the real deal — the real, London inspiration for the Harry Potter films' home to Gringotts? Okay, fine, I still want to stand in line, but you've got options, people. 

Much like the case with Alnwick Castle, which served as the set for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets, Diagon Alley had a real set as well — or at least, the entrance did. Leadenhall Market in London served as an exterior shot location for the entrance to Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron in Sorcerer's Stone. In case you've forgotten, when Hagrid first rescues Harry from the Dursleys and delivers the now famous line, "You're a wizard, Harry," he takes him to Diagon Alley via the streets of London. But where is the real Diagon Alley itself?

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall only comes into the picture — according to the market's site — as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. At the time of filming, the entrance was an empty storefront, but it is now an optician's store in the Bull's Head passage. Unfortunately, it won't take you into Diagon Alley, you'll have to go to another London location for that.

Cecil Court

The short street, just off the Leicester Square Tube station, links Charing Cross Road (that should sound familiar, Potter fans) and St. Martin's Lane. The pedestrian-only street is home to a variety of antique and book shops and is believed to be the inspiration for Harry Potter's Diagon Alley. You can visit it on your own, or with a variety of Harry Potter tours offered in London

Of course if you're only interested in Diagon Alley because you need a copy of Hogwarts, A History or some potions supplies, these locations probably won't help. You'll need a suspiciously magical pink umbrella for that. 

Images: Warner Bros.; mnedelec/Flickr, vasenka/Flickr

Must Reads