For over a decade, the story of Harry Potter has gripped the imagination of people around the world. The magical adventures of a young wizard have captivated fans both young and old, resulting in merchandise that continues to sell globally, and even beyond the confines of our digital screens.

The epic tale of Harry Potter is now a major motion picture with J.K. Rowling’s beloved creation playing a starring role. After years in the making, the eagerly anticipated film is set to hit our cinemas this summer, and has already created an unprecedented buzz among moviegoers.

The final installment in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, which is set to be released this November, will only continue to drive home the enduring appeal of Harry Potter. The series finale will receive an exclusive preview on Wednesday 6th October at the Hollywood studios of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the groundbreaking special effects house which has created all of the magical landscapes for the films, including Hogwarts Castle.

ILM is celebrating a decade of creating magical realist worlds, and it wouldn’t be the Wizarding World without a glimpse of Hogwarts Castle. The year 2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of the stunning medieval marvel, and as part of the celebrations, the entire castle is set to be lit up in an array of magical colours.

A Brief History of Hogwarts Castle

Nestled within the gentle pastoral rolling hills of Northern Ireland, near the shores of the majestic Irish Sea, lies a remarkable medieval ruin that would one day become famous around the world as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The real-life inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s incredible fantasy worlds, the sprawling ruin of Hogwarts Castle was originally home to Merlin’s Hill, a 12th century castle that was the seat of a noble family. For centuries, the site remained a private residence, although it did see brief interludes in history when it became a rest stop on the 18th century Long Mynd Road, and later, a stop on the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War.

In 1881, the then-rundown and much-altered castle was purchased by the visionary Harry Potter entrepreneur R.K. Rowling, who saw its potential as a tourist destination. Over the next few years, Rowling turned the site into a spectacular sight by the gift of a magical lake. He also began a major interior transformation, adding new structures and spells to the interior to give it a more modern and magical feel. The result was a grand tour de force that would become one of the most recognizable and beloved houses in fiction. More than 125 million copies of the Harry Potter books have now been printed, and the franchise has generated billions of dollars in revenue.

How Did They Build It?

Inspector Goyle in The Goblet of Fire describes how he and the other wizards were able to conjure up a seemingly perfect replication of Hogwarts Castle, albeit on an epic scale, in just three days. It begins with a simple incantation (a spell from which all others are derived), and a few buckets of water. After which, they set to work. As well as employing 200 professional stonemasons, carpenters and masons, as well as 30 sculptors and artists, they also called upon the help of 100 volunteers, who worked through the night to help realize Goyle’s vision:

“They chipped in with ideas – some were better than others, but together, they formed a cohesive whole that was truly magical. In the end, they constructed a three-story castle that was exactly like the one described in the books.”

The finished article would be a stunning achievement even for the most talented real-life architects, and it makes one wonder at the power of the written word, and the magic of the human imagination.

While there are several theories as to how Hogwarts Castle was actually built, the most popular claim places the team of architects, artisans and engineers at the epicentre of a supernatural force known as the ‘Muggle-Born Polyjuice Potion’. The potion was a mythical substance that could supposedly grant any mortal the power to become an immortal – the perfect Muggle-Born assistant.

The year 2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of the spectacular medieval ruin that is now a famous household name around the world, and as part of the celebrations, its entire interiors will be lit up in an array of magical colours.