This evening, I am focusing on Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. This is an extremely popular visitor destination with numbers reaching a peak during August when two major events take place namely, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

A tour of the principal sites is best undertaken on foot. These include Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral, John Knox House, Scottish Parliament, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Calton Hill and the New Town. Alternatively, sightseeing buses are available.

The Old and New towns have been assigned World Heritage status by UNESCO.

Old Town

This dates from medieval times and essentially comprises sites on and near to the Royal Mile which stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

  • Edinburgh Castle: Sits on ancient volcanic plug and has a recorded history dating from the 11th century onwards although occupation probably dates back much earlier. Subject to suitable visibility the high elevation affords superb views over the city and beyond.
  • Deacon Brodie’s Tavern: Named after a real person who was the inspiration for Stevenson’s  Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
  • St. Giles Cathedral: Correctly known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and incorporates the famous Thistle Chapel.
  • Parliament Hall: Dates from 1639 and was the seat of the Scottish Parliament until formation of the United Kingdom in 1707.
  • John Knox House: This 16th century building was home of the famous Protestant reformer.
  • Canongate Kirk (Church): Dates from 1688. The famous economist Adam Smith is buried in the adjacent burial ground.
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse: A Royal residence which in its present form dates from the late 17th century. The Palace is still the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland.  Adjacent are the ruins of Holyrood Abbey which are open to the public.
  • Scottish Parliament Building: A controversial design dating from 2004. Access is usually possible, even during debates.

New Town

Mainly dates from 1770 and is famous for its combination of impressive Georgian architecture and shopping in and around Princes Street. Some of the key sites include:

  • The Scott Monument (Sir Walter Scott, famous romantic author) in Princess Street. Dates from 1844. The fit and energetic may climb up the interior to benefit from views over the city.
  • Royal Scottish Academy. This dates from 1832 and is a centre for promoting visual arts.
  • Scottish National Gallery: Designed by William Playfair and dates from 1845. Houses a world-class collection of Scottish and international art.
  • Charlotte Square: Completed 1820 and named after the wife of King George III. Here can be found the Georgian House, a heritage property open to the public.
  • The Dome at 14 George Street. Impressive Corinthian portico and stunning domed atrium. Now a restaurant.
  • Freemasons Hall, 96 George Street. This building, which dates from 1912, is Scotland’s Grand Lodge. Tours are available.
  • St. Andrew’s and St. George’s Church in George Street. Historic Presbyterian Church which dates from 1785.
  • Sherlock Holmes Statue in Picardy Place, close to birthplace of author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Calton Hill

Overlooks the City of Edinburgh and is home to a medley of monuments and buildings which combine to form a skyline known as the ‘Athens of the North’. Access entails a short uphill walk which in turns affords superb views over Edinburgh, Leith and the Firth of Forth. The principal structures comprise:

Video clip of Edinburgh, Calton Hill, Firth of Forth and Palace of Holyroodhouse (in winter),

Other Sites and Places of Interest

  • Edinburgh Grassmarket: A cosmopolitan, pedestrianised area in the shadow of the castle containing pubs, restaurants and hotels.
  • National Museum of Scotland: As befits its name, a historical treasure-house situated about 10 minutes walk form the Royal Mile.
  • Royal Yacht Britannia: Now a tourist attraction moored in the Port of Leith, about 10 minute drive from the centre of Edinburgh.
  • Rosslyn Chapel: Famous for its high quality stone carvings and links with the Da Vinci Code. About 20 minute drive from Edinburgh.
  • Elephant House Coffee Shop at George IV Bridge, close to the Royal Mile. Here J.K. Rowling wrote her early ‘Harry Potter’ novels.
  • Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat: High elevation public parks which offer good views over Edinburgh and environs.
  • Craigmillar Castle: Dates from 14th century and located about five miles south of Edinburgh.
Tourist shop on Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Tourist shop on Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Inside Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Inside Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh Fringe promotion on Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Fringe promotion on Royal Mile, Edinburgh

National Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

National Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Recital at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Recital at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

View from Holyrood Park

View from Holyrood Park

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