New Observatory, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on a 19th century City of Edinburgh, Scotland landmark which is earmarked for a new lease of life as a modern art gallery.

Prior to the advent of modern-day light pollution, the elevated Calton Hill, which overlooks Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth, proved an ideal location for a scientific ¬†observatory. The first observatory was built a few hundred meters from the site illustrated above in 1776 , and has since been converted to into holiday rental accommodation. This first building coincided with the ‘Enlightenment’, a period of learning ,literature and scientific discovery.

The design for the New (or City) Observatory was influenced by the classical Greek temple of the Four Winds. It was designed by William Henry Playfair in 1818 in shape of a cruciform classical temple with central dome. It is worthy of note that the architect’s uncle was Professor Playfair, an eminent mathematician and natural philosopher who at the time was President of the Astronomical Institution.

The New Observatory continued in operation for scientific purposes-under various managements- until 2009 when it was vacated and handed over to Edinburgh Council, Subsequently, approval has been granted for the site to be reinvigorated as an art gallery, as reported above, whilst respecting and retaining the original Playfair design.

Calton Hill is close to the centre of Edinburgh and has pedestrian access. In addition to the observatory there are other interesting architectural features including the National Monument and Nelson’s Monument plus, weather permitting, excellent views over the City of Edinburgh, Leith and Firth of Forth.

New Observatory at Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

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