When in Hogwarts – The John Rylands Library in Manchester


Have you ever asked yourself if Hogwarts really exists? Well, not for real but somehow it does. You don’t even need to know how to spell magic or go to King Cross Station’s platform 9 ¾ in London and try your luck passing through that wall. Instead, you head towards Manchester, where the spirit of Hogwarts awaits you at The John Rylands Library.

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Background story

The North-western British city, Manchester, was one of the most important industrial cities in the United Kingdom and the world. Furthermore, Manchester was the greatest cotton textile producer in the 19th century. Back then, the owner of the biggest textile concern in the United Kingdom and Manchester’s first multi-millionaire was none other than John Rylands.

After his death in 1888, his widow Enriqueta Augustina Rylands acquired the former Althorp Library in 1892 and established a memorial to her husband. In 1900, The John Rylands Library opened to the public.

The John Rylands Library

When you find yourself in Manchester and tour through its modern Spinningfields quarter, you encounter a neo-gothic looking building. At first glance, it might look like a church. Even after entering the building through a modern extension, the impression can keep alive. However, there are signs everywhere indicating that you landed at The John Rylands Library.

Well, first of all, I have to emphasise that the entry is for free. Great, isn’t it?

By putting food on the first corridor, you might get a first unclear déjà-vu. The corridor leads to various rooms with plenty of books. Everything is lovely decorated, fitting the neo-Gothic style of the architecture.

While proceeding, you get to a stairway. Look to your left, then to your right and then at the top. Statues gracing the walls, big stained-glass windows deciding the ambience’s brightness and gorgeous detailed ornaments at the ceilings increasing the excitement.

It is this very moment, when your curiosity drives you up the stairs of that majestic stairway, just to solve the mystery around that déjà-vu.

The mystic corridor at The John Rylands Library in Manchester
Lovely bookshelf in one room at The John Rylands Library
Statues decor the library walls
These columns give straight church vibes.
Gorgeous ornaments in the stairway area

Harry Potter’s Hogwarts atmosphere in Manchester

Well, there it is – a big reading room.

High ceilings, an upper floor and two huge stained-glass windows at each end make it look massive. Furthermore, there are some important-looking scripts being exhibited in the middle of the reading room, showing how deep the inventory of this library can get.

What matters most and foremost, are all those lovely designed and decorated details. John and his wife Enriqueta Augustina Rylands even got a dedicated portrait statue, which are placed each at both ends of the reading room.

That being said, the reading room at The John Rylands Library is epic – so epic, that, at this exact moment, the already mentioned mystery about the déjà-vu effect should be solved by now.

It’s the spirit and atmosphere of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts which is going around in this library, from the first second you enter the first neo-Gothic corridor.

The lack of light and mystery in the corridor sections reminded me of many scenes from the Harry Potter movies. However, the reading room gave me real goosebumps. Somehow, I felt like being in Hogwarts’ giant dining hall and replaced John Rylands statue with Dumbledore.

Well, yeah, The John Rylands Library breaks the limits of fantasy – and that’s a wonderful fact.

The library’s impressive reading room with the portrait statue of John Rylands emphasising the Hogwarts vibes.
Look at all these lovely details! This time it’s Enriqueta Augustina Rylands turn to watch over the exhibition.
Another angle of the library’s reading room and closer look on the lovely exhibition design.

How to get there

The John Rylands Library is located in the modern central Spinningfields quarter in Manchester. Thus, if you plan to discover Manchester by foot, you encounter it sooner or later. Furthermore, the library is also reachable by public transport.

To navigate yourself best, just enter the map below.

Opening hours and more

The John Rylands Library in Manchester is open at the following times:

  • TUE – SAT 10am – 5pm
  • MON & SUN 12noon – 5pm

For more informations, please don’t hesitate visiting the library’s official website.


The John Rylands Library is definitely worth a visit. It doesn’t matter if you are a bookworm or a Harry Potter fan, the attraction appeals to a wider audience. On top of that, the entrance is free. Thus, in the end of your visit, you decide, if the attraction was good enough for a donation.

Cheers to my mate Klemens who brought me to this majestic place – I personally loved it. Last but not least, I enjoyed the fact that it was never crowded inside the library.

In case you are interested in more places with a certain Harry Potter vibe or link, just click here and discover my article about Porto’s bookstore Lello, which unfortunately, is not as easy-going as The John Rylands Library in Manchester.



    • Cheeers moite!

      You absolutely nailed it. Even if I strolled blind but focussed through
      Spinniningfields, chances are high that I would have had cherished the facade and not
      the treasure inside. Thanks again for introducing me to John Rylands Library, mate!


  1. As ever,you wrote a very interesting article and highlighted it with beautiful pictures! Thanks for the inspiration to travel the world..

    • Hey Clarissa,
      Thanks a lot for your very kind words. I’m very happy that this article could inspire you!



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