"Harry wished he had eight more eyes.... There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels' eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon...." (PS5)
A wizarding shopping district located behind the Leaky Cauldron in central London, just off Charing Cross Road.
Tapping just the right brick in the wall behind the Leaky Cauldron in London ("Three up...two across...") will reveal an archway which is a portal into Diagon Alley, a long cobbled street where is to be found a strange and exciting assortment of shops and restaurants. It is unquestionably the hub of commerce in the British wizarding world, with virtually every wizarding business stationed there. Consequently, the demand for space here is steep, and rent costs "loads of Galleons" (OP30).
During the summer before his third year, Harry Potter spent several weeks in Diagon Alley, staying in a room at the Leaky Cauldron by night and roaming the street by day, marveling at the incredible shops and the witches and wizards, in from all over the country, who came by to do their shopping (PA4).
Following Voldemort's return to power in 1996, wizards and witches no longer felt safe wandering out in public, and Diagon Alley changed dramatically. The once-crowded streets stood virtually empty, faces of Death Eaters plastered the fronts of once-bright shops, and street vendors popped up, hawking anti-Dark devices (HBP6). Within another year and Voldemort's taking over of the Ministry of Magic, a large number of shops had closed, replaced by others devoted to the Dark Arts, and the street was filled with Muggle-borns who had been cast aside by the new system (DH26). Presumably, after Voldemort's eventual downfall and the installation of Kingsley Shacklebolt as Minister for Magic (BLC), Diagon Alley eventually returned to its splendor of old.
Shops of Diagon Alley:
The Apothecary is a fascinating shop crammed with all sorts of interesting things. There are barrels of slimy stuff lined up on the floor and jars of all sorts of powders, herbs, and the like along the walls. Bundles of feathers, fangs, and claws hang from the ceiling. The whole place smells very bad, a mixture of bad eggs and rotten cabbage (PS5, CS4). The name of this shop in the films is Slug & Jiggers Apothecary (PS/f).
When Harry spent several weeks in Diagon Alley before his third year, he ate his meals (except for breakfast) at these assorted cafes. The cafes had "brightly colored umbrellas" over their tables outside, which were Harry's preferred seats. While sitting here, he liked listening to the shoppers around him discussing their purchases or the escape of Sirius Black (PA4).
The headquarters of the Daily Prophet are located in Diagon Alley, as the newspaper instructs that letters to the editor should be sent here by owl (DP).
In 1998, with Voldemort fully in charge of the Ministry of Magic, a number of Diagon Alley shops closed, replaced by these nondescript shops devoted to the Dark Arts (DH26). Of course, even at other times, such shops exist just around the corner in Knockturn Alley, too (CS4).
owls & related merchandise (i.e. owl treats)
A dimly lit shop which, according to the sign, sells tawny, screech, barn, brown, and snowy owls. Hagrid bought Hedwig here for Harry's eleventh birthday on July 31, 1991 (PS5). Harry also returned later to buy owl nuts - a favorite treat of Hedwig's (HBP6).
An ice cream parlor with outdoor tables, where Florean Fortescue served Harry free ice cream sundaes and offered advice about medieval witchcraft for a report he was writing (PA4). The shop was boarded up after Florean disappeared mysteriously in 1996 (HBP6).
A large wizarding bookshop filled with shelves stacked to the ceiling, Flourish and Blotts is the primary - and perhaps only - supplier of textbooks for Hogwarts (PS5), though of course that's far from all they sell. The shop holds occasional book-signings, such as when Gilderoy Lockhart stopped by in 1992 (CS4), and sells books via owl (HBP11) in addition to books purchased in-store. They also take advance orders for books that are in high demand, such as The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore (DH8).
In addition to the store's manager, who at times helps customers himself (PA4), the store also employs an assistant manager (paid 42 Galleons a month) (DP) and an assistant (CS4). The job is not altogether easy, as wizarding books might attempt to bite or simply be completely invisible (PA4), and fights - like the scuffle between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy that sent books raining down on everyone's heads - are apparently commonplace enough that a classified posting for a new assistant manager requires that he or she be "good at breaking up fights" (DP).
This shop, a favorite of Fred and George, sells a wide variety of tricks and practical joke items. The twins bought Dr. Filibuster's Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks here in 1992 (CS4), though of course four years later they were a direct competitor with their own joke shop, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, just down the road (HBP6).
A large white marble building and Diagon Alley fixture, staffed by goblins.
Full of broken wands, lopsided scales, etc., and a thin little book called Prefects Who Gained Power which caught Percy's eye (CS4).
Though far from the only wizarding clothier around, Madam Malkin's seems to be the best, as it is the place where most Hogwarts students purchase their robes. Madam Malkin herself is a friendly, squat witch (PS5), though she seems a bit out of touch at times and got flustered when Draco Malfoy confronted Harry in her shop (HBP6).
Madam Malkin's is located next door to Flourish and Blotts, and in addition to selling Hogwarts school robes (PS5), they also sell robes which are "spangled, self-ironing, beautifying, slimming, fattening, lengthening," and "temperature-adjusting" (DP) and they carry robes made by Whopperwear "for the outsize witch or wizard." A later advertisement states that every robe sold at the store is "self-ironing and repairing" as well (JKR).
A company that helps witches remove "warts and worse," and that recently advertised for Junior Potion mixer in the Daily Prophet. Madam Primpernelle's is located at 275, Diagon Alley (DP).
pets & related items
A very crowded pet store, noisy with the sounds of all the animals, where Hermione bought Crookshanks. The proprietor is a witch who wears heavy black spectacles. She offers advice and sells things like rat tonic. Other creatures for sale included:
- enormous purple toads
- gigantic tortoise with jewel-encrusted shell (probably a Fire-Crab)
- poisonous orange snails (Streelers?)
- a fat white rabbit that changed into a top hat and back
- cats of every color
- noisy cage of ravens
- custard-colored furballs (probably Puffskeins)
- sleek, black rats, rather more intelligent than normal rats
Located at 18a Diagon Alley, and the publishers of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
"Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C," Ollivander's is a narrow and shabby little shop with a window display consisting of a single wand resting on a faded purple cushion. Inside the walls are lined floor to ceiling with thousands of narrow boxes, which Mr. Ollivander chooses from when trying to find a wand to match each customer (PS5). Ollivander's closed in 1996 (HBP6) when Ollivander was kidnapped by Voldemort (DH5); it is unknown whether he re-opened the shop following Voldemort's defeat two years later.
Potage's Cauldron Shop
This shop, the closest one to the entrance from the alley behind the Leaky Cauldron, sells all sorts of cauldrons. Outside the shop, a stack of them shines in the sun, under a sign that reads:
Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver
The name of the cauldron shop is Potage's Cauldron Shop (Pm).
brooms & other Quidditch-related items
Harry Potter's favorite shop in Diagon Alley is Quality Quidditch Supplies. He visited it often when he stayed for three weeks at the Leaky Cauldron, since that summer the new Firebolt racing broom had been introduced and the shop had one on display (PA4). Quality Quidditch Supplies also once displayed a full set of Chudley Cannons robes in the front window (CS4).
misc. items, mostly anti-Dark
There have always been street peddlers on Diagon Alley, and shoppers have always had reason to be wary of them (such as when "Honest Willy Wagstaff" managed to sell substandard wands and loose-bottomed cauldrons a few years back (DP). However, once Voldemort returned, wizards looking to capitalize on the public fear managed to sell even sketchier items, from Metamorph-medals that simply made the purchaser turn orange or sprout tentacles (HBP5).
Mundungus Fletcher tried to set up a cart in Diagon Alley in 1997, to sell items he'd stolen from number twelve, Grimmauld Place. However, he didn't have much luck in doing so, as one of his first prospective customers was Dolores Umbridge, who got him in trouble for not possessing a license and then stole Slytherin's locket from him as compensation (DH11).
Located at 59 Diagon Alley, Terrortours advertises that they offer "action holidays for the wizard family with a sense of adventure!" Some of their tours include:
- Transylvanian castles for rent, with the host a guaranteed vampire
- a trip down the "Zombie Trail" where you can come "face to face with the living dead!"
- a cruise through the Bermuda Triangle where you'll see the remains of ships that "didn't spot the monster."
The small print at the bottom of the ad warns that "Terrortours accepts no responsibility for death or injury (DP)."
An upscale clothing shop. Narcissa decided to take her business there after meeting a 'mudblood' in Madam Malkin's (HBP6, Pm ).
Located at number 93, the Weasley twins set up premises in Diagon Alley in 1996 (more...)
Located at 129B Diagon Alley, and the publisher of Quidditch Through the Ages.
Maps of Diagon Alley
While there is no official map of Diagon Alley, the books describe the various shops in relationship to each other. Using this information, I created the following map in 2001 (before OP).
In Pottermore, the Alley is a lot shorter than I drew it, with far fewer shops. However, they only needed to include the shops a user to the site might actually visit. Therefore the canonicity of the order is questionable. Here's how it appeared on Pottermore:
diagonally, adv - going in a diagonal, angled or oblique direction (Jo's editor hadn't realised that this was the name origin for "Diagon Alley" until a lunch on train from King's Cross for the launch of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 8 July 2000 - as reported by those present)