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Durmstrang Institute

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"Durmstrang is a school for young witches and wizards. The school has a dubious reputation, and is known to put a lot of emphasis on teaching the Dark Arts."
—Durmstrang introduction[src]

The Durmstrang Institute (Cyrillic: Дурмстранг) is the Scandinavian wizarding school, located in the northernmost regions of either Norway or Sweden.[1][2] The school, which presumably takes mainly northern European students, is willing to accept international students as far afield as Bulgaria. Durmstrang is one of the three schools that compete in the Triwizard Tournament. It is an old school, having existed since at least 1294[4], and is notorious for teaching the Dark Arts.

Durmstrang does not admit Muggle-borns. However, it is shown that the students may not necessarily share this idea, as Krum attended the Yule Ball with Hermione Granger, who is Muggle-born and would not have been admitted at his school.


Main article: Durmstrang Castle

Durmstrang Castle

Durmstrang, like Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is in a castle, though their castle is not quite as big as Hogwarts. The castle is only four stories tall and fires are only lit for magical purposes. It has very extensive grounds and is surrounded by lakes and mountains. In addition, the school is Unplottable; Durmstrang, like other schools, likes to conceal its whereabouts so the other schools cannot steal their secrets. The institute is said to be in the northernmost regions of either Norway or Sweden, although it may also be located in the Baltic states or in Karelia, which is located in western Russia, by the Baltic sea.[5] Their arrival to Hogwarts by ship implies that Durmstrang is somewhere at the seaside or by some river or major lake.


Gellert Grindelwald school portrait

Gellert Grindelwald in his school uniform

Durmstrang was founded sometime during the Middle Ages by the great medieval Bulgarian witch Nerida Vulchanova who served as the first head of the school, followed after her mysterious demise by Professor Harfang Munter who established Durmstrang's reputation for emphasising martial magic as an impressive part of its curriculum.

Around 1294 the Triwizard Tournament was established as a friendly competition between Durmstrang Institute, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. But in 1792 a Cockatrice went on a rampage and injured the Heads of all the schools. The Triwizard Tournament was then suspended indefinitely, only restarting in 1994.

Around 1894, Gellert Grindelwald was accepted into Durmstrang Institute. Although the school was oriented towards the Dark Arts, Grindelwald's experiments in dark magic were considered too dangerous for the students. After a certain amount of time, even Durmstrang could no longer ignore Grindelwald's dangerous studies, and expelled him. Before he was expelled, he carved the calling card of his obsession, the mark of the Deathly Hallows, on a wall of the school; that mark stayed there long after his defeat.

At some point after 1981Igor Karkaroff rose to the position of Headmaster of Durmstrang and became immensely unpopular in this position, having several students removed from the school by their parents for his ruthlessness. During his time as the school administrator, some students copied Grindelwald's symbol onto their books and bags to impress others, but were "taught a lesson" (presumably in the form of retribution) by those who lost family members to Grindelwald.

Triwizard Tournament

The Durmstrang delegation arrived at Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament by ship, an enormous vessel in which they slept during their stay in Scotland. They put on an introductory ceremony featuring the use of walking sticks. They chose the Slytherin table, due to similarities of outlook, no doubt, and ate there.

Bulgarian Quidditch Seeker, Viktor Krum, attended Durmstrang, and was still in school during the 1994 Quidditch World Cup. That same year, the school participated in the recommenced Triwizard Tournament. Karkaroff brought twelve students with him to Hogwarts to put their name into the Goblet of Fire. However, it was Krum who was chosen as the Durmstrang representative.

As Krum was a celebrity, he was constantly hounded by Draco Malfoy and other students who wanted autographs and the prestige of being close with him. Krum mostly ignored these advances, but formed a close friendship with Hermione Granger, a Gryffindor student. They continued communication after the Tournament through letters.

Karkaroff fled after Lord Voldemort rose again. It is not known who took over, or whether the school's reputation improved or worsened due to this.


Durmstrang is notorious for its acceptance of the Dark Arts, and was known to have educated (and later expelled) Gellert Grindelwald before his ascension as a Dark Wizard. Professor Igor Karkaroff, a former Headmaster, was in the service of Lord Voldemort as a Death Eater, but managed to escape punishment in Azkaban by providing the Ministry of Magic with the names of his co-conspirators. Lucius Malfoy, another Death Eater, considered sending his son Draco to Durmstrang, but his mother did not like the idea of him going to school so far away.

Known students

Hp4gf 029Durmstrang

Durmstrang students in 1994


Main article: Durmstrang uniform

The students at the school wear fur cloaks, fur hats, and blood-red robes.


  • The pronunciation of Durmstrang is "Doorm - strang".
  • "Durmstrang" seems to be a spoonerism for Sturm und Drang, a borrowed German expression meaning "turmoil, ferment"[6] deriving from the name of a highly emotionally driven German artistic movement of the late 1700s, precursor of Romanticism. "Sturm und Drang" literally translates as "tempest and urge" or "charge and rush" but was anglicised as "storm and stress".

Behind the scenes


The ship sailing away from Hogwarts Castle

  • In an interview with Accio Quote J. K. Rowling stated that Durmstrang was in Scandinavia, in the far north of either Sweden or Norway.[1]
    • However, from Krum's description of the school's surroundings in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, they do not match northern Sweden but do almost perfectly match those found in Norway. Krum says that the castle is situated in a mountainous region, and is very near at least two lakes. Krum then goes into great detail in describing the climate at Durmstrang, stating that during the winter months there is very little sunlight. The highest point in Sweden is the mountain Kebnekaise at 6926 feet (2,106 m). This is much lower than Norway's highest mountain Galdhøpiggen which is 8100 feet (2,469 m). However, Norway's highest peak is not of a significant latitude to restrict sunlight to the degree that Krum describes, but Sweden's certainly is, being north of the Polar Circle. Furthermore, Galdhøpiggen is surrounded by several major lakes including Gjende and Russvatnet, but the northernmost point of Sweden has no lakes, the closest lake being Torneträsk, which is in the northwest. Also, Galdhøpiggen is near a fjord, which could be why the school uses a ship to travel.
    • However the sun in Scandinavia sets and rises very early and late. At Sweden's biggest northern town Kiruna the sun does not rise at all for over 20 days, this is called "polar night" [1]. There will be very little sun for 3 and a half months. Very little sun means that in the late February and early October they have 7 hours of sun a day, meaning 16 hours of complete darkness. [2] Thus there is no need for a high mountain for it to be "dark".
  • In the film, the coat of arms for Durmstrang is shown to be a double-headed eagle, and also features the school's name in both Latin and Cyrillic script (though the transliteration may be incorrect: transliteration to Cyrillic tends to be a recording of the name's pronunciation in the original language, and if the name is German in origin, "st" would be read as [∫t] and transliterated as щ (Bulgarian), or шт (Russian) instead of ст, thus the correct transliteration would be Дурмщранг/Дурмштранг and not Дурмстранг). Some of the regions of Sweden have crests with beings such as dragons, eagles, griffons, and giants. Additionally, one region of Sweden has a moose, eagle, and a wolf on its crest, all three of which are found on the Durmstrang crest, though Norway's national crest is a lion, very much resembling a Griffin. Some regions in Norway are also stated to have some of the same creatures on them as Sweden, both countries being of Viking descent. Also, on the German coat of arms there is an eagle similar to the one on the Durmstrang crest.
  • The Pottermore mapping of Durmstrang near the Baltic Sea would align better with the use of Cyrillic alphabet in the Durmstrang crest, while the Scandinavian countries use only Latin script.
  • People who visit Durmstrang have their memories wiped as to how they got there, but are able to describe it.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Durmstrang is pictured as an all-male school. However, it is known from the novel that there was also at least one girl studying at Durmstrang, and most likely other female students by the 1990s. Moreover, Pottermore revealed that Durmstrang was founded by a woman.
  • In the book, the hairstyle of the Durmstrang students was not described; in the film, all the Durmstrang students (the majority of which were extras) sported very short buzz cuts, except for Igor Karkaroff's aide and Gellert Grindelwald.
  • Hogwarts, with their students wearing robes and house ties, seems akin to a real-world boarding school. However the manner and dress of Durmstrang, where the boys wear identical uniforms and have one permitted haircut, strongly mirrors that of a military academy in the Muggle world.



See also

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Report on Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre reading
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Hermione: "It must be far north because they have fur capes on the uniform list."
  3. The geographic characteristics described by Krum in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire strongly imply northern Norway. See the "Behind the Scenes" section
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 12 (The Triwizard Tournament) - The Triwizard Tournament was established some 700 years ago = c.1294
  5. Pottermore - Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Durmstrang Institute" - See map
  6. The Free Dictionary's definitions of "Sturm Und Drang"

Wizarding Education
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Examinations: First year exams · Second year exams · Third year exams · Fourth year exams · Ordinary Wizarding Level · Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test
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