Situated on the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. Claimed by some to be among the most beautiful cities in the world, it is divided into the Old and New Town. The Old Town has preserved it's medieval legacy, its main artery, the Royal Mile, still paved with cobblestone and headed by the Edinburgh Castle at one end.
Perched on a hill, the Old Town’s layout is typical of aged Europe. Closes - alleyways that cut through buildings, sometimes even running underground - wind their way down the hill, connecting streets and giving the Old Town a maze like feel. Opened in 2004 is the new controversial, Parliament building. Extremely expensive, the building has had to undergo a few repairs since its completion, though is widely considered and architectural gem.
Edinburgh’s New Town stands in stark contrast with the Old Town. Perfectly girded streets replace the labyrinthine passageways, fitting well with the enlightenment ideals of rationality, of which Edinburgh was a major center. The New Town has now become a major shopping area and is considered one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the world.
The glen in between the ridge on which the Old Town sits and the New Town’s neat organization was once a dump for the city but now is the Princes Street Gardens. All excess soil from the New Town construction was used to create the Mound, an artificial hill within the gardens. The Scottish National Gallery is located on the Mound, as well as the Royal Scottish Academy Building.
Edinburgh, one of Scotland’s six cities, has been inhabited since before modern records, but it is known that the Roman empire attempted to settle the region early in the first millennium. During their time in Scotland, the Romans recorded the presence of several local tribes,
By the 6th century AD, the region was home to the Gododdin peoples, who took control of the area following the Roman departure from the island in the early 5th century.
It is unknown when or where the name of Edinburgh derives from, but it was in popular use before the 7th century.
Within a few centuries, the region had begun to develop into a then modern urban center. A fortress was constructed on the top of a hill, overlooking the city, and eventually developed into Edinburgh Castle.
The villagers spread out around the base of the hill. Several buildings were developed as the population grew, and Edinburgh is often said to have given birth to some of the world’s earliest high rise accommodations.
Historic St. Giles' Cathedral was built sometime around the 1100s. The innovative and impressive church is often considered the mother of Presbyterianism.
In 1124, St. Margaret’s Chapel was consecrated under the direction of King David I, son of St. Margaret, as the chapel of Edinburgh Castle. When the castle was captured by the forces of Robert the Bruce in the early 1300s, much of it was destroyed. By special order of Robert the Bruce himself, the chapel was spared.
A few years later, the Holyrood Abbey was constructed under the direction of King David I as thanks for two hunters saving him from near death.
Before long, the Edinburgh population had grown so much that the city replaced Scone as the nation’s capital in 1437. Residents began developing multi-story residences, in particular within the boundaries now known as Old Town.
The University of Edinburgh was founded in 1582. It is now one of the oldest and most illustrious universities in the United kingdom.
Edinburgh played a prominent role during the 17th and 18th century’s Age of Enlightenment.
The new found awareness led to innovative redevelopment and Edinburgh began construction of what is now known as New Town. Beginning in 1765, the city of Old Town began looking to modernize, and develop ways to reduce the mounting tension from the rapid population growth. The ensuing Age of Enlightenment led to the draining of valleys north of the city, and the process resulted in what is now referred to as The Mound, a man made hill that connects Old Town with New Town. The Mound is so large that it supports the National Gallery of Scotland, parts of New College, the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, and the headquarters of the Bank of Scotland.
Holyrood Abbey was damaged during a storm and has since remained in ruins.
By the late 1700s, construction began with the now famous St. Andrew’s Square. A massive mansion was built in 1774, inspired by Italian architecture, which is now home to the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Much of the city was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1824, leaving only the city’s foundations to rebuild on. Residents took advantage of this opportunity to develop new housing and office plans, including underground vaults and passageways (many of which still exist). The most common result of this redevelopment is a persistent rumor of an underground city, deep beneath the earth of Edinburgh, no doubt spawned by the fact that many immigrants lived in these underground sanctums during the Industrial Revolution.
The resulting redevelopment revitalized the city of Edinburgh, bringing new life to New Town. Scotland’s Royal Museum officially opened in the late 1880s, after more than two decades of construction. The museum has since been expanded extensively.
The St. Margaret’s Chapel was restored in the mid 1800s, and renovated again in 1993 to commemorate the 900th anniversary of St. Margaret’s death. The chapel is now the oldest building in Scotland.
With the coming of the 20th century, Edinburgh began to attract the attention of the world for its unique history of innovation and architecture. The city is considered to have some of the finest surviving Georgian architecture, and yet continues to modernize. The popular South Side residential district is home to several important figures, including J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.
In 1920, the neighboring port city of Leith merged with the city of Edinburgh, to the consternation of many. While the port city strives to retain its own identity, the merge has been a boon for Edinburgh, increasing both commercial potential and tourism.
Edinburgh began a long standing tradition in 1947, with the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival. The event gave rise to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, now the largest arts and crafts festival in the world.
In 1995, the popular Old Town and New Town districts were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
By the turn of the millennium, Edinburgh reached a population of nearly 500,000 residents. Within a few years, the city would also rise in world popularity to claim the title of the second most visited city in the United Kingdom, entertaining more than 13 million tourists annually.
Major districts: Central Edinburgh? Old Town? New Town? South Side? Leith?
There are plenty more things to do in Edinburgh.
Activities? | Sights? | Shopping? | Events? | Business Index?
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Each year Edinburgh holds its Edinburgh Festival, which runs from July till early September. Though Edinburgh is perhaps best know for this, the “festival” is in fact a collection of separate events. Edinburgh Fringe is perhaps the most popular of these, now the largest arts festival in the world. There is also a jazz, film and book festival. Running alongside these events is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which performs bag pipes and displays fireworks every night in the courtyard of the castle.
The University of Edinburgh is located in the Old Town and surrounding area and is one of the premier universities in Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle - You simply have to visit Edinburgh Castle and once you have climbed up to the highest parts of Edinburgh Castle you will be absolutley awed by the views of Edinburgh. Make sure to walk up the road that leads from the Queen's Scottish Palace to the older Edinburgh castle. The street is lined with pubs, tourists shops and great picture opportunities. If you see a completely modern building that looks out of place, it the Scottish Parliament.
Arthur's Seat - Come and check this out! It is a real volcano! Here you can walk across the remnants of its last lava flow and feel the intresting vibe this place gives off. The volcano has been extinct for 350 million years so no need to wonder if it will erupt on your visit.
Scotch Whiskey Heritage Centre - Scotch whisky is well known around the world to be Scotland's national drink and where else would you go to find out the history.