Suspension Bridge & Gryffindor Girls’ Tower

When we last saw the Hogwarts suspension bridge in my project, it was an untextured but fairly complete bridge to nowhere. Then, a few posts later, I said that I’d hidden the bridge so I could do some reworking, and that it would return “eventually.” I didn’t really expect that “eventually” would mean two years and a pandemic later, but there ya go.

In the intervening time, I discovered some issues with my original recreation of the bridge, so I just rebuilt it from scratch. The suspension bridge moved in Prisoner of Azkaban; I decided to start with that version, as I did two years ago.

I found that the two ends of the bridge weren’t quite lining up, but that problem went away with some slight cheating.

One challenge is that our only truly close-up view of this bridge in the films is during the dragon chase in Goblet of Fire…but that shot features a different design, and I’ve chosen to ignore it.

Adding the details, and hiding the buildings to the north so we can get a better angle (and let some more light in):

I suppose it’s only fair to also include a reverse angle, this time hiding the south block (and rotating the sky/sun 180°):

But of course, as I said, this is not where the suspension bridge started out. Originally, it was closer to Gryffindor Tower and lower down – in fact, you can see the small building it originally led to on the far left side of the render above.

Back on the opposite (south) side of the ravine, the tower containing the Gryffindor girls’ dormitories originally stood directly above the other side of the bridge. (Not going to dig into the design choice to deprive the girls’ tower of a spire or any discernable windows…) That tower disappeared completely when the suspension bridge moved in Prisoner of Azkaban, although the Gryffindor common room set still hints at its existence.

Again, it’s easiest to see this with half of the castle missing. Drag the slider to compare Sorcerer’s Stone (left) to Azkaban (right):

I should say that I am NOT confident in the accuracy or completeness of the lower left area of the wall in the Sorcerer’s Stone version. The floor plan seems to indicate some sort of terrace or balcony; if it was actually built, I’d imagine it was similar to the one on the right side of the render, in appearance and height. Sadly, I simply cannot find any reference for this area of the original model, so for the time being, I’m just building the main wall itself. Someday, man…someday.

I’d like to show you a similar slider facing the opposite direction, but I think that’ll be more fun and more informative once I’ve built the Transfiguration classroom (AKA Durham Cathedral chapter house). That’s next up on my to-do list…stay tuned for more updates! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a more familiar Sorcerer’s Stone angle of the suspension bridge area:

And hey, why not – just as a fun bonus, here’s an overhead shot, but with the SS and POA versions both visible and intersecting nonsensically. I’m including the mist pass too because it just looks frickin’ cool.

22 thoughts on “Suspension Bridge & Gryffindor Girls’ Tower

  1. Absolutely superb! Eagerly awaiting the finished other side for the full view.

    There’s one particular shot in CoS I adore, of the morning sunrise through the ravine from the front side, as an establishing shot between the night at Aragog’s and the morning at Hermione’s hospital bed.

    Absolutely beautiful, and the stone colouring in posteffects really sell the original style of Hgowarts for me as my favourite.

    I’ve also just realised that while there’s probably conflicting shots with sunrises in impossibly different directions, this kinda supports my assumption that the compas on the blueprints for Hogwarts is upside down – sunrise is in the east after all.

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    1. I always thought that was sunset because it was right before the scene with Harry and Ron reading the library book page at night.

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      1. That’s after they visit Hermione in the morning, which is what the sunrise leads into from the night in the forest.

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      2. It’s possible that they were, but cinematic language of turning from a night setting to a low-sun day shot strongly implies morning.

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  2. I love the last shot—it’s like you captured Hogwarts in mid-transformation or showing its non-Euclidean geometry somehow. The old design of that north wing is cool, too; almost seems more castle-like to me, more of a fortress. One of the reference shots you’ve shared of the early SS model shows what looks like a chimney over the girls’ dormitory tower, on the base of the roof rather than straddling the peak. Did you see that anywhere else? It’s also interesting that they popped a chimney over the west wing in that first model that doesn’t appear anywhere else, and there are none on the south wing where they appear in POA elevations. Always makes me wonder how people kept warm in those drafty stone rooms when there’s, like, seven chimneys in the whole castle.

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    1. I think I’m seeing the chimney over the girls’ tower that you’re talking about, and for a few moments, I thought I really had missed it…but after comparing it to a similar angle in my own model, I think we’re actually seeing one of the three on the ridge of the roof, the one furthest from Gryffindor. It doesn’t look at all like it should be that…it’s a deceptive angle…but I’m pretty positive.

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  3. Also, question I’ve never been able to quite make out the answer to – does the wall of the left-hand tower (the one with the stone bridge) lead completely smoothly into the Quad wall on this side, or is there a corner/other rough join?

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  4. Impressive as always! I really like the look of the old Gryffindor tower, much better IMO.

    I just notices something that I had never seen before: the 4th turret (on the West side) in the middle/Ravenclaw tower (SS/COS version) is bigger than the other ones, that’s funny! I wonder if it was already supposed to be the Ravenclaw tower back in those times, do you have any idea?

    Keep on the good work mate 😀

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  5. Another pair of questions occur to me.

    You say that the suspension bridge in the Horntail chase is different – howso? I never noticed but now my curiosity burns.

    And in a similar vein, how did you ‘cheat’ to make both ends of the PoA version of the bridge line up?

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    1. In that shot, the suspension cables are higher up relative to the…handrails? Not sure what to call them. The hangers have more details in the attachments to the cables too.

      As for the cheating, it consisted of moving some windows and other details very slightly off-center. It technically ruins the symmetry, but at least the flaw is distributed gently between different features.

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  6. The intersecting versions pic is so cool. I’d like to see more intersecting renders as you complete more/move into other films beyond the first three.

    I never realized the Gryffindor tower changed in film 3 or that there was a girls’ tower at all. I always noticed that they essentially had no room to sleep in the later films, and thought it was always like that.

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    1. I do plan to do more of these! They’re a fascinating way of comparing the designs, aren’t they?

      Yeah, I didn’t realize that tower was for the girls’ dorms until relatively recently. The change to the boys’ tower I was aware of, but I’d thought of the other one as just some miscellaneous tower.

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      1. I have to say, the intersecting training grounds tower is my favorite version of it. The best of both worlds.

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  7. Hi Joe,
    I have a question about the relative elavation of the two halves of the castle.

    In the SS and PoA versions of the castle the suspension bridge seems to connect with the northern half at roughly ground level. However there seems to be a significant difference between the two versions in how high up the bridge connects to the Quad. In SS it seems to connect to the Quad on ground level but in PoA it seems to connect around a third of the way up the wall.

    That made me wonder, are the ground floors of the two halves of the castle not on the same level? I had assumed they were (i.e. that the floor of the Entrance Courtyard would be the same level as the floor of the Transfiguration Courtyard) but after noticing the change in height of the Suspension Bridge in this post and also having just seen the PoA elevation image in your floor plan post, it seems they aren’t…

    Would you be able to confirm this? And if they are different, can you say roughly how high the ground floor of the northern half is relative to the southern half?

    Thanks!

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  8. Sorry to double comment but I’ve just been staring at the PoA elevation blueprint and I’m super confused lol.
    The suspension bridge in PoA (and presumably for all version of the castle after that) looks like it connects to the Quad maybe a quarter or a third of the way up the wall, and connects to the Suspension Bridge Foyer at the ground floor.

    But then isn’t the ground floor of the Suspension Bridge Foyer on the same level as the ground floor of the Viaduct Entrance and therefore (more or less give or take some steps) on the same level as the Viaduct, the Entrance Courtyard, the walkway to the Quad and the Quad floor itself??

    Make it make sense please :p

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    1. So sorry for the delay in replying! Here’s the scoop, at least as far as I can tell. The POA revision of the suspension bridge puts it right around the same level as the Transfiguration courtyard (182’6″ above lake level) or the viaduct (184’6″). I’ve got it at the latter in my model. The original pre-POA suspension bridge was lower, somewhere closer to 167′ above lake level, placing it partway between the original quad level (around 123′) and the aforementioned viaduct level (184’6″).

      I hope that answers your questions. It’s kinda hard to talk about a single “ground floor” level for the entire original south block because of the much lower quad and back terrace level. Once you get to GOF, the south block’s ground floor is more consistent and well-defined (184’6″ or 186’6″, depending on the specific area).

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      1. No worries about the delay, really appreciate the response 🙂
        That makes sense thank you! I also realised that the outter walls of the Quad go down lower than the inner walls of the Quad and the Quad courtyard, and that was making me thing the suspension bridge was much higher up than it actually was.

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