Azkaban, the infamous prison in Harry Potter’s wizarding world, was once the magical Bermuda Triangle of Britain. Its storied walls were constructed by a loathsome practitioner of Dark magic long before Sirius Black was sentenced, and the echoes of that darkness are said to have seeped into the now-sentient stone.
A Dark wizard of unknown nationality — Ekrizdis — practiced what Pottermore describes as “the worst kinds of Dark Arts.” With his island, Ekrizdis would lure Muggle sailors to his fortress like a dark magic Siren. Once there, sailors would be tortured and eventually killed for Ekrizdis’s pleasure. It wasn’t until he died and the concealment charms that had kept the island completely hidden from the rest of the wizarding world died with him, that the island was found.
When those magical walls surrounding the island fell, what the Ministry of Magic discovered within its jurisdiction horrified them: an island and fortress so permeated by the Dark Arts that it had acted as a beacon to none other than the now-infamous Dementors. Those who were sent by the Ministry to investigate were so disturbed by what they saw that they refused to speak of it.
Members of the Ministry agonized over what to do with this monstrosity. Some thought to destroy it. Others were concerned with what would happen to the Dementors inhabiting the island if it were to be destroyed. The Dementors would disperse and cause havoc elsewhere.
But the most concerning thought was this one: “Experts who had studied buildings built with and around Dark magic contended that Azkaban might wreak its own revenge upon anybody attempting to destroy it.”
Fear over the potentially sentient island and fortress left it abandoned for years, acting only as a catch-all of sorts for “continually breeding” Dementors.
It wasn’t until the authoritarian anti-Muggle Damocles Rowle became Minister for Magic that he thought to use Azkaban for a prison. If wizards could harness the Dementors and use them as prison guards, then that would save the Ministry money and manpower.
We all know what happens from there. The prison is still in use in the ‘90s during the Harry Potter series, and it plays host to a variety of characters, including Sirius Black, Barty Crouch Jr., Mundungus Fletcher, Igor Karkaroff, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Rubeus Hagrid.
Centuries after its inception, Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt ordered that the Dementors be banished from Azkaban and replaced with Aurors as guards. So, despite the problems the Dementor-exterminators must have had, it doesn’t seem that the building itself lashed out.
Or maybe this building, with a history darker than what we’d previously learned from the Harry Potter series, is simply lying in wait for the perfect time to take its revenge. We know Dark magic corrupts, and that killing people splinters the soul. If Azkaban went so long as a place of pure agony — first as a sickly personal torture chamber and then as a prison run by Dementors — it would be truly haunted.
Photos via Harry Potter Wiki, adambrockbank.com, Pottermore