Walking a few miles on the cobbled streets of Durham, a city in the North East of England, was a splendid experience. Overwhelmed and mesmerized by the magic of ancient Gothic architecture, blooming spring colors, serene waters and chirping birds, the confused wanderer in me asked, “Should I focus on Google Maps and head to the university I came all this way for, or go down the track and like Alice in Wonderland, explore the colorful, narrow lanes I’ve only heard of in fairy tales?” My practical mind advised me to create balance and enjoy the scenic while following the roadmap to college.
The unexpected stroke of luck brought me into the heart of the city, to witness the majestic Durham Cathedral surrounded by the River Wear looping through a fresh green natural landscape. This 218-foot-tall church bears witness to the beautiful architecture of medieval times. The cathedral is a shrine to St Cuthbert. Housing the relics of many accomplished saints and having a glorious past and built in the beautiful Romanesque style architecture, the cathedral has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Absorbed by the thoughts of the intricate carvings, painted glass, elaborately crafted walls, symmetrical arches, and ceiling beyond my comprehension, I was also treated to the melodious singing of the choir. This symphony was indeed the love of Jesus and his holy angels as if they were welcoming me into their home. With each step, I lived my fairy tale moments but the best was yet to come.
When I thought I was taking an exit door, I actually entered another hallway and marveled at the square passageway surrounded by sharp symmetrical arches with a central lawn and fountain. The green summer lawn received soothing sunlight from the cathedral towers and reflected different shades of green.
As I couldn’t help but smile, I wondered if I had seen this place somewhere or if I had a moment of deja vu. Suddenly I heard someone shout, “The Harry Potter hallway!” No wonder JK Rowling’s imagination deserved to be cinematic in a place like this and Warner Bros. did just that. This cathedral, which is the seat of the fourth bishop in the Church of England hierarchy and a famous place of pilgrimage, is also popular among filmmakers.
Fairy tales, magical stories and fantasies are dear to humans. They not only made our childhood exciting, but also helped us understand the world and its difficult realities in a joyful way. In addition to instilling imaginative skills, the fairy tale genre provides ways for children to learn important life lessons. Although some themes in fairy tales may be unrealistic, the overall effect is positive.
While appreciating every inch of the minute and impeccable craftsmanship in the Harry Potter hallway, I thought about how important it is to have fairy tales in every culture. Having the chance to experience these fairy tale moments (like the one I had) is the icing on the cake!
The author is an independent contributor