King’s Cross, London, England

London - Kings Cross railway station

King’s Cross Station, London, England

The Tube. At once iconic, eye-catching and mind-boggling, stations of the London Tube have both featured in and inspired numerous films, series and books, from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter to BBC’s Sherlock to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. English railways and trains, too, have long held an allure of bygone times of the golden age of railways. Though there are many stations at the heart of London’s public transit, King’s Cross is high on the list. It’s funny how something so ordinary and boring – public transportation – has now become such a powerful symbol of one of the greatest cities in Europe, but there you have it. Opened in Victorian London (1852 to be precise), Kings Cross grew quickly as London’s newfound suburbs expanded at an unprecedented rate, becoming a symbol of the neighbourhood’s prosperity at the time. By the the end of the 20th century, however, King’s Cross station had fallen into decline, and the surrounding streets known for their seedy and unsavoury character. Then in 1997 an unknown author published her debut fantasy novel about a boy wizard called Harry Potter living in a parallel magical England – accessible through Platform 9¾ from… you guessed it…King’s Cross Station. By the early 2000s, the station and area surrounding it saw a serious refurbishment – as well as a bit of marketing: a fake Platform 9¾ was constructed, complete with a half-disappeared trolley! Too bad it doesn’t actually lead to Hogwarts…


Pro tip: Platform 9¾ is popular with tourists so try to avoid peak times if you want a photo! Also, the British National Library is just around the corner if you’re feeling bookish. It’s no Hogwarts, but still beautiful! 


Other Intriguing Railway and Underground Stations

 

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Millennium Bridge, London, England

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Millennium Bridge, London, England

Seemingly like all bridges in this city (ahem London Bridge ahem), Millennium Bridge is made famous by falling down—though to be fair to the bridge, it only fell down in the fantastical world of Harry Potter. (In case you need a refresher, the Death Eaters led by the werewolf Fenir Greyback, wanting to wreak havoc as they are wont to do, collapsed the bridge in the beginning of the 6th film). In the real world, the bridge was constructed in 1998-9 to mark (you guessed it!) the millennium. Snuggled between the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern and St Paul’s Cathedral, Millennium Bridge is a funky steel suspension pedestrian bridge twisting and turning its way over the Thames. Its prime location means it is highly trafficked—just watch out for those Death Eaters!

Edinburgh, Scotland

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Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Royal Mile, is, well, royally impressive, as it’s name suggests. Approximately one Scots mile long, the Royal Mile is a collection of stately streets with massive stone buildings rising up on either side of the cobblestoned street. It runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, snaking past many of Edinburgh’s finest buildings and streets. For literature nerds and Harry Potter fans alike, nearby there is also a pub entitled The Elephant House, which styles itself as “The birthplace of Harry Potter.” The above street here is one of the many beautiful interconnecting streets jutting off the Royal Mile.