Royal High School and Calton Hill

Royal High School and Calton Hill

This evening, I am reporting on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland which is high elevation location offering panoramic views over Edinburgh, Leith and Firth of Forth.

At Calton Hill, the architecture of various structures, as manifested in sum of the parts, takes precedence over the individual constituents. The famous and multi-talented Scots urban planner, Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) commented ” with its strange medley of monuments is a museum of the battle of styles and a permanent evidence showing how the town planners of one generation cannot safely count upon continuance by those of the next“.   The specific buildings on and around Calton Hill include:

  • National Monument (1822). An incomplete memorial to the dead of the Napoleonic Wars based on the Parthenon.
National Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

National Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Nelson’s Monument (1816). Designed by Robert Burn in shape of an upended telescope to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).
Nelson's Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Nelson’s Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

  • Royal High School (1825-29). Designed by Thomas Hamilton. This building is of international stature and may have been designed to integrate with the National Monument thus justifying Edinburgh’s nickname of the ‘Athens of the North’.
Royal High School, Edinburgh, Scotland

Royal High School, Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Dugald Stewart’s Monument (1832). Designed by William Playfair and modelled on the 4th century AD monument of Lysicrates at Athens. Erected to celebrate the success of Stewart’s choir in a  competition.
Dugald Stewart's Monument viewed against Edinburgh city backdrop at sunset.

Dugald Stewart’s Monument viewed against Edinburgh city backdrop at sunset.

Other important buildings are:

  • Old Observatory: Designed by James Craig in 1776 in picturesque, castellated Gothic style.
  • New Observatory:Designed by William Playfair in 1818 and inspired by a Greek temple of the Four Winds.
Observatories at Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Observatories at Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Calton Hill is now only accessible on foot. Upon reaching the top  visitors can admire the various  architectural styles, (subject to light conditions) benefit from stunning views of the Firth of Forth (estuary or bay), Fife Coast (opposite) and the centre of Edinburgh, all of which offer excellent photographic opportunities.

Calton Hill landscape, Edinburgh

Calton Hill landscape, Edinburgh

Leith, Firth of Forth and Fife Coast from Calton Hill, Scotland

Leith, Firth of Forth and Fife Coast from Calton Hill, Scotland.

Video clip of Edinburgh, Leith and Firth of Forth including Calton Hill.

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