Durmstrang Institute is one of the three biggest wizarding schools. It is unplottable but somewhere in the far north with many mountains, lakes, and heavy winters.
The school was founded in 1294 and regularly competed in the Triwizard Tournament. At many times the school prohibited the acceptance of muggle born students and encouraged the teaching of dark arts.
Durmstrang Quick Facts
|Teaching dark arts, formerly educating Grindelwald
Durmstrang is described as having a castle, though not as large as Hogwarts. It is an unplottable location, with four stories, fires that are decorative only, and extensive lakes and mountains where kids could play in the summer.
When I first read about Durmstrang, I immediately pictured it as a Russian military school. The author used eye dialect to portray what is clearly a Russian accent speaking English, they came in on a ship (though I always wondered what method of transport would be used for Hogwarts students if the next tournament was hosted elsewhere), and they marched around taking orders from their captain.
I was a little shocked when the author gave an interview stating that she always pictured the school as located in Scandinavia (Really? Cause the accents used are, as I mentioned, wholly Russian and not Finnish or Norwegian)
My Elementary School self memorized the two-dimensional map posted on the second-grade classroom wall. The name “Russia” on that map was printed on the far right-hand side. So in my mind, when I hear or think of “Russia,” I picture the right half of the country, but never the St. Petersburg part.
I still forget that Russia extends all the way to the Scandinavian border and up to the Arctic. So I guess Durmstrang could be near Scandinavia, but it is definitely still on the Russian side.
Durmstrang was founded by a Bulgarian witch in the middle ages. It was originally a co-ed school that emphasized martial magic and dueling. In 1294, the Triwizard Tournament was created. Durmstrang, Beauxbatons, and Hogwarts continued the tradition until 1792, when heads of all three schools were injured.
During the late 1800’s Grindelwald attended Durmstrang. The school had begun to shift toward dark arts at this time, but Grindelwald’s experiments were too severe even for them. He was expelled though not before causing damage, marking the Deathly Hallows on walls, and leaving to cause mayhem throughout the magical world.
During the First Wizarding War, Igor Karkaroff was acquitted of his Death Eater crimes and became the new Headmaster for Durmstrang.
Durmstrang and the Triwizard Tournament
The Durmstrang students participating in the Triwizard Tournament arrived in a magical ship that rose from the Great Lake. When they entered the Great Hall, after a short performance, they sat at the Slytherin table before returning to their ship, which doubled as a dormitory.
Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian seeker, was still 17 and in school at Durmstrang. Of the twelve students from Durmstrang who put their names in the Goblet of Fire, his was selected.
As a celebrity, girls followed Krum everywhere, watching him study, practice, or swim in the Great Lake despite the cold. Draco Malfoy also followed him.
However, it was Hermione Granger he was interested in. They attended the Yule Ball together, participated in events together, and maintained a strong friendship with regular correspondence once Krum returned to Durmstrang.
At the time of the Triwizard Tournament, Igor Karkaroff was the Headmaster. When he fled, all of the students returned to their ship at the end of the tournament and sailed themselves back to school. According to Viktor Krum, Igor Karkaroff never sailed anyway and just slept in his cabin.
I like to think that all the kids went back to school, and everyone operated as though nothing had happened. If Igor was that lazy when it came to sailing the ship, he was probably just as lazy in his capacity as Headmaster. Maybe the school was better off.
Durmstrang School Curriculum and Reputation
Durmstrang had a reputation for educating many dark Wizards like Grindelwald. Unlike the other Wizarding schools, this was the only institute that openly taught the dark arts.
This always confused me when I was younger because I didn’t understand how places like Knockturn (a play on dark things that take place in the night, or “nocturne”) or the dark arts were not meant to exist have caused the first Wizarding War, then how come they operated in public and how come schools taught them openly without any criticism?
But then it dawned on me that there are plenty of things taught in other countries or enforced in other countries that we might not agree with, just as someone who is devoutly religious might not agree with drinking or bars or even restaurants that serve alcohol. And yet, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol are allowed to operate, and people can choose to partake or not.
Obviously, parents were able to choose whether they wanted their kids to study the dark arts or not, something that was enticing to Draco Malfoy’s father when he considered sending him there for school.
However, aside from the dark arts, many of the students were highly proficient in other magical curriculum, including transfiguration, as indicated by Viktor Krum’s ability to transform himself into a shark during one of the tasks.
In the books, the students wore thick robes which were blood red (the films changed these to maroon), and they had red pants and shirts underneath with black leather boots, fur hats, and fur cloaks.
Durmstrang Trivia and Facts
- In the films, Durmstrang is a boys-only school, though the books describe it as a co-ed school. The producers likely made the change because Beauxbatons was an all-girls school.
- The films feature the Durmstrang coat of arms, which has Latin and Cyrillic on it, with a two-headed eagle very similar to what Tsarist Imperial Russia used (so, once again, I make my case that they are suuuper Russian and not Norwegian).
- The films feature uniforms and buzz cuts that were not all included in the books. The marching of the boys as they enter the Great Hall and the ship on which they travel all lend to the idea that Durmstrang was in effect, a Russian naval academy.
Durmstrang Appearances in Books
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (mentioned only)
Durmstrang Appearances in Films
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The ship arriving with students from Durmstrang:
“Slowly, magnificently, the ship rose out of the water, gleaming in the moonlight. It had a strangely skeletal look about it, as though it were a resurrected wreck, and the dim, misty lights shimmering at its portholes looked like ghostly eyes. Finally, with a great sloshing noise, the ship emerged entirely, bobbing on the turbulent water, and began to glide toward the bank.”
Krum describing his school to Hermione:
“Ve have just four floors, and the fires are lit only for magical purposes. But ve have grounds larger even than these — though in vinter, ve have very little daylight, so ve are not enjoying them. But in summer ve are flying every day, over the lakes and the mountains —”
Hermione, Ron, and Harry discussing how Malfoy’s mother almost sent him to Durmstrang:
“But I think Durmstrang must be somewhere in the far north,” said Hermione thoughtfully. “Somewhere very cold, because they’ve got fur capes as part of their uniforms.”
“Ah, think of the possibilities,” said Ron dreamily. “It would’ve been so easy to push Malfoy off a glacier and make it look like an accident… shame his mother likes him…”
Ron fighting with Hermione:
“He’s from Durmstrang!” spat Ron. “He’s competing against Harry! Against Hogwarts! You — you’re —” Ron was obviously casting around for words strong enough to describe Hermione’s crime, “fraternizing with the enemy, that’s what you’re doing!”
Hermione’s mouth fell open. “Don’t be so stupid!” she said after a moment. “The enemy! Honestly — who was the one who was all excited when they saw him arrive? Who was the one who wanted his autograph? Who’s got a model of him up in their dormitory?”
A publication of Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s upbringing:
“Educated at Durmstrang, a school famous even then for its unfortunate tolerance of the Dark Arts, Grindelwald showed himself quite as precociously brilliant as Dumbledore. Rather than channel his abilities into the attainment of awards and prizes, however, Gellert Grindelwald devoted himself to other pursuits. When Grindelwald was sixteen years old, even Durmstrang felt it could no longer turn a blind eye to his twisted experiments and he was expelled.”
Durmstrang Guide: maFAQs
Answer: Durmstrang is a magical wizarding school in the far north of Europe that teaches students from across the continent. It is one of the three largest schools and participates in the Triwizard Tournament.
Answer: Grindelwald originally attended Durmstrang but was expelled for practicing dark arts, which were too severe.
Answer: The official language at the school is English. Everyone speaks it when they arrive at Hogwarts, though, no doubt many of the students have a different native tongue.
Answer: In the books, it is noted that there have been female students in the past, and the school was founded by a female. However, a decision was made to portray it as an all-boys school in the films, likely to balance out the fact that Beauxbatons was an all-girls school.
Read More: Harry Potter Magic Lore Guide