Island in the North Sea
Azkaban, also known as Azkaban Prison, is a prison on an island in the middle of the North Sea. It serves the magical community of Great Britain. Using certain Charms, the prison is hidden from the muggle world, and is unplottable. It is thought to have undetectable extension charms placed on it (or similar types of magic) to make it bigger on the inside, as the prison seems to serve the whole of wizarding Britain. Although other wizarding prisons exist, such as Nurmengard (which was used exclusively to hold its creator Gellert Grindelwald), Azkaban is the only known fortress to be the "official" holding ground for wizarding criminals.
Azkaban gained a reputation as a horrible place, mostly due to the prison's guards: Dementors, foul creatures that suck the happiness out of the victim and cause great suffering to those near them. Because of this, most of the prisoners eventually went insane and slowly died under the Dementors' influence. Since 1717, using any of the three Unforgivable Curses on another human being has carried a punishment of a life sentence in Azkaban (unless there is sufficient evidence that the caster did so under the influence of the Imperius Curse, or legal exceptions made by the Ministry of Magic as in the case of Aurors in the First Wizarding War).
Azkaban was guarded by Dementors until most of them revolted and joined Lord Voldemort in summer of 1995. As a result, Voldemort's Death Eaters escaped en masse to rejoin their master in both 1996 and 1997.
There is most likely an Anti-Apparation jinx on Azkaban; if there were not, wizards and witches could simply Apparate from the prison to the outside world. However, since it is debatable that most witches and wizards need a wand to Apparate, this may be irrelevant, as none of the prisoners maintain possession of their wands. Before 1995, most of the prisoners would barely have had enough strength to Apparate anyway, as the mere presence of Dementors, particularly in large numbers, inhibits the use of magical powers.
Before the Dementors' revolt, the only people ever to escape the prison were Barty Crouch Jr and Sirius Black, in 1982 and 1993, respectively. Barty Crouch Jr. was smuggled out by his father, Barty Crouch Sr., and replaced by his dying mother using Polyjuice Potion, while Sirius was able to escape by changing into his Animagus form of a dog. The revolt has severely compromised the security, as multiple escapes were made with no more Dementors guarding the prison; the Ministry continued omitting certain facts to maintain their facade of having everything under control, including keeping one breakout a secret.
There is a graveyard outside the wall of Azkaban where the Dementors buried prisoners who died. However, if the dead prisoner has a relative who is not a criminal, the relative in question has the right to pick up the corpse for a proper burial, as Barty Crouch Sr. had the right to pick up the body that was disguised as his son, though he chose not to due to fear of being exposed of committing a jailbreak.
Although the prison is in the middle of the ocean with iron walls protecting it, it was unnecessary to keep prisoners inside, as Remus Lupin stated, because the prisoners were already trapped in their own heads due to the intense depression caused by the Dementors. As Sirius indicated, most prisoners went insane after a short while, and some even stopped eating, preferring death to their lives within Azkaban. Dementors fed the prisoners, indicating the prisoners might have felt depression at mealtimes.
Visits to the island are heavily restricted, as only respectable Ministry officials were noted to be allowed to visit any possible relatives. An example is when Barty Crouch Sr. and his wife were allowed a deathbed visit to their imprisoned son due to the former's high status in the government; they took advantage of this privilege to smuggle Barty Jr. out of prison. The Minister of Magic is also allowed to visit the prison, as to check out on certain prisoners for their conditions, as Cornelius Fudge did on Sirius Black.
It is not known whether wizards made the Azkaban island magically, or whether it was an existing ordinary rock island which wizards took over. If the latter is the case, when the sea level was lower in the Ice Age it would have been a rock hill standing above tundra which is now the bed of the North Sea.
After the war
After the end of the Second Wizarding War and Kingsley Shacklebolt's appointment as Minister for Magic in 1998, dementors were no longer employed as guards of Azkaban. This is likely because they had proven to be untrustworthy, and because the depression and madness their presence caused in prisoners is considered inhumane. Presumably, other security measures were employed to guard the prisoners, most likely far more humane. It is unknown how many surviving Voldemort supporters and Death Eaters were imprisoned in the aftermath. Them aside, any Ministry officials who knowingly and willingly went with Voldemort's ideologies during the time when the Ministry was under his control, mainly the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, were sentenced to Azkaban, the most prominent being Dolores Umbridge, for her crimes against humanity (more specifically, Muggle-borns).
Known Azkaban convicts
- "We have confirmed that ten high security prisoners, in the early hours of yesterday evening, did escape. And of course, the Muggle Prime Minister has been alerted to the danger. We strongly suspect that the breakout was engineered by a man with personal experience in escaping from Azkaban; notorious mass murderer Sirius Black, cousin of the escapee Bellatrix Lestrange."
- —Cornelius Fudge interview to the Daily Prophet about the Azkaban Mass Breakout of January 1996[src]
|Carlotta Pinkstone||Unknown||Imprisoned for her repeated and deliberate violations of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.|
|Avery Jr.||Unknown||Participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Sirius Black||Escaped (only actual unassisted escape from Azkaban while the Dementors were guarding it); now deceased||Framed: imprisoned without trial after being falsely accused of murdering Peter Pettigrew and a dozen other innocent by-standing Muggles, life sentence; now vindicated|
|Crabbe Sr.||Unknown||Participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Bartemius Crouch Jr.||Life Sentence for torture using an Unforgivable Curse||Torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom with the Cruciatus Curse and murdering Bartemius Crouch Sr., life sentence.|
|Crispin Cronk||Deceased||Had pet Sphinxes in his backyard.|
|Mrs. Crouch||Died during imprisonment, disguised as Barty Crouch Jr.||Served time in place of her son, Barty Crouch Jr.|
|Antonin Dolohov||Life Sentence||Murdering Gideon and Fabian Prewett, life sentence; re-imprisoned for participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Percival Dumbledore||Life Sentence for assaulting a Muggle and breaking the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.
Died during imprisonment
|Attacking Muggles without a logical explanation (retaliation for what happened to his daughter Ariana Dumbledore), life sentence.|
|Mundungus Fletcher||Minor sentence for robbery.
No longer imprisoned; unknown how he escaped or if he was released
|Impersonating an Inferius during a robbery.|
|Marvolo Gaunt||Sentence of 6 months for assault on officials of Ministry of Magic
Released after serving at least one term; now deceased
|Assault on Ministry of Magic officials, served six months.|
|Morfin Gaunt||First Sentence:3 years for assaulting Ministry officials and assaulting a Muggle
Second Sentence:Life Sentence for multiple homicide of Muggles using an Unforgivable Curse (frame-up)
Died in prison while serving what was at least his second term
|First term: Improper use of magic on a Muggle and assault on Ministry officials, served three years.|
Second term: Framed by Tom Marvolo Riddle for murdering the Riddle family, life sentence.
|Rubeus Hagrid||Temporary sentence for suspicion in being involved in re-opening of Chamber of Secrets; released after 2 months.
|Framed: Re-opening the Chamber of Secrets, imprisoned as a safety precaution (falsely accused by Tom Marvolo Riddle); released upon proven innocent.|
|Jugson||Unknown||Participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Igor Karkaroff||Life Sentence for allying with Death Eathers and possible crimes with Unforgivable Curses: released in exchange for confidential information
Released; now deceased.
|Membership in the Death Eaters; released in exchange for the names of several other Death Eaters.|
|Bellatrix Lestrange||Life Sentence for torture using an Unforgivable Curse and multliple homicides using Unforgivable Curses
Escaped during the January 1996 Mass Breakout; now deceased
|Torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity through the Cruciatus Curse, torturing and killing muggles and wizards, life sentence.|
|Rabastan Lestrange||Life Sentence for torture using an Unforgivable Curse and multiple homicides using Unforgivable Curses||Torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity through the Cruciatus Curse, life sentence; re-imprisoned for participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Rodolphus Lestrange||Life Sentence for torture using an Unforgivable Curse and multiple homicides using Unforgivable Curses||Torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity through the Cruciatus Curse, life sentence; re-imprisoned for participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Lucius Malfoy||First Sentence:pardoned after convincing the officials that he was under the influence of the Imperius Curse
Second Sentence:Life sentence for being allied with Death Eathers.
|Participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Walden Macnair||Life Sentence||Participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
Escaped during the 1996 Mass Breakout; current status unknown
|Captured prior to Karkaroff's trial (possibly for use of the Imperius Curse); re-imprisoned for participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Sturgis Podmore||Sentence for 6 months for breaking and entering to Ministry of Magic
|Attempting to break into the Department of Mysteries within the Ministry (actually controlled by Lucius Malfoy's Imperius Curse at the time), served six months.|
|Stan Shunpike||Life Sentence for suspicion of being allied with Death Eaters,brought on false charges to keep the media satisfied.||Arrested on suspicion of Death Eater activity; kept in custody to make it look like the Ministry was making progress.|
|Augustus Rookwood||Life Sentence for working as an double agent and being allied with Death Eaters.||Spying on the Ministry through his job as an Unspeakable, life sentence; re-imprisoned for participating in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries as a Death Eater.|
|Travers||Life Sentence for mass murder using an Unforgivable Curse
|Murdering the McKinnon family, life sentence; escaped during the January 1996 Mass Breakout.|
|Muggle-borns||Life Sentence for "theft" of magic,all on false charges,all released after the fall of Voldemort.
Released, or killed in imprisonment.
|Muggle-borns were arrested when Voldemort controlled the Ministry, assuming all survived.|
|Dolores Umbridge||Life Sentence for misusing the position in the Ministry of Magic and mass genocide
|Imprisoned for her crimes against Muggle-borns as head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. life sentence.|
The name Azkaban is inspired by the Russian town Abakan, which has historically been occupied by various groups of exiles and also draws inspiration from the Prison of Alcatraz off the coast of San Francisco.
Behind the scenes
- At least as far as the books are concerned, Azkaban is perhaps the most prolific location to never appear. It was referenced numerous times throughout the books, but aside from the cover of one copy of the third book, it never appeared in an image in the books. This is because, unlike the movies, the books were told exclusively through the eyes of Harry Potter himself, who never visited or have been in Azkaban.
- There is an added scene in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which the 1996 mass breakout at Azkaban is shown. This scene also marks the first ever appearance of Azkaban itself.
- In the film, Azkaban is also on an island, but the island cannot be seen due to the stormy sea surrounding the tower.
- In the front cover of the adult Bloomsbury edition of the third book, Azkaban is shown to be a rectangular tower, while in the fifth film it is more of a triangular tower.
- It is likely that if Sirius's status as an Animagus was known, the Ministry would have taken certain precautions to prevent him from transforming to escape. This would mean that Azkaban's security measure is not fully enforced for every situation at all times, assuming that the protection with Dementors is pure enough.
- Escaping from Azkaban is apparently a very serious crime, punishable by the worse-than-death Dementor's Kiss. Sirius Black was fated to this, if not for him being rescued beforehand, and Bartemius Crouch Jr. suffered from it when his escape became public. Such a punishment is probably because the escaped prisoners in question are too dangerous to be simply reconfined into the prison, as they could easily escape again.
- Prisoners from Azkaban have their place card numbers tattooed on their neck and have pictures of them taken with their official number.
- There are no human personnel (guards, officials etc.) in Azkaban other than prisoners. All prisoners, as seen in the films, wear white shirts with grey stripes.
- Access to Azkaban is strictly prohibited to all people except high-ranked Ministry officials, and only them are granted permission to enter the prison and visit prisoners, although this is very rare.
- Azkaban escapes
- Azkaban Security Officials and Very Important Wizards
- Unforgivable Curses
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game) (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Mentioned only)