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Athens of the North
Edinburgh is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, dubbed ‘the Athens of the North’, and as Scotland’s capital city, it is playing a vital role in shaping Scotland’s future as the home of the country’s first parliament in almost 300 years. It is the legal, administrative and financial centre of Scotland, stretching from the port of Leith to Queensferry and the Forth Bridges.
Set among a series of volcanic hills and small lochs, the city was founded on the defensive Castle Rock more than 5,000 years ago. Edinburgh is shrouded in history, and the distinctive Old Town packs more historic buildings into a square mile than just about anywhere in Britain. The Old Town sprawls down the volcanic escarpment from the ancient fortress of Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, with splendid medieval streets, tall tenement buildings, and atmospheric wynds and closes leading off what is known as the Royal Mile. The castle, the symbolic heart of Edinburgh, dominates the city. From a fortress stronghold and royal residence of the Stuart kings, the castle is now a museum housing the Scottish National War Memorial and the Scottish crown jewels, as well as being the venue for the spectacular annual Military Tattoo. The castle also features St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh.
Along the Royal Mile are some of Edinburgh’s best known monuments, including St Giles Cathedral, Parliament House, and John Knox’s House. At the end of the Royal Mile is the official residence of the Royal Family in Scotland, Holyroodhouse, dating from 1530. Close to the Royal Mile are the National Library of Scotland, the Royal Museum and the Museum of Scotland, all helping tell the story of Scotland’s history, people, culture and achievements. The Arts has also flourished in Edinburgh, as the city is home to three national art collections and a number of galleries.
North of the castle, along the valley of the old Nor’Loch lies Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare, Princes Street. Today it is the city’s primary shopping district, and site of the ornate Gothic spire monument to one of Scotland’s most enduring writers, Sir Walter Scott. Climbing the 287 steps to the top of the Scott Monument offers superb views of the city. Along this street lie fine Georgian civic buildings, among them the Royal Academy and the National Gallery. Princes Street is part of the grid pattern of streets that forms the New Town. Built between 1767 and 1840, the great neo-classical New Town helped secure Edinburgh as a truly world-class city, able to stand shoulder to shoulder architecturally with Prague, Amsterdam or Vienna. The New Town’s elegant streets spread north down the hill towards the Firth of Forth, and many elegant Georgian homes, squares and historical buildings, including Register House (1778), Charlotte Square (1791), the Assembly Rooms and Music Hall (1797), and St Andrew’s Church (1785) can be found.
Edinburgh has numerous parks and recreational areas from which to escape the bustle of the city, including the Royal Botanic Garden, which has magnificent rock gardens and the largest rhododendron collection in Britain. And to the north of the city in the historic port of Leith lies the former Royal Yacht Britannia, providing a fascinating insight into the Royal Family’s life on board.There is plenty of breathing space in an otherwise compact city, with the summit ridges of the Pentland Hills, gateway to the Scottish Borders, visible form the top of Arthur’s Seat, a hill rising up behind the spires of the Old Town.
The city is also an artistic and cultural capital, and in August the city becomes the venue for the annual Edinburgh Festival, offering a superb choice of concerts, ballet, opera and theatre, as well as the stunning glamour and pageantry of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. And on the 31st of December each year, the city celebrates in magnificent style as party revellers enjoy the firework displays heralding the dawn of the New Year.
Edinburgh is a showcase city and major tourist centre, an attractive, civilised capital, dominated by its ancient castle and home to one of the world’s greatest arts festivals. In one visit you only scratch the surface of a city that will entice you back again and again.
Edinburgh is a gateway for travel to Norwich and Northern Scotland with flights to Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Wick.
Useful InformationEdinburgh and Scotland Information Centre
3 Princes Street
Tel: +44 (0) 131 473 3800
Fax: +44 (0) 131 473 3881
Email: [email protected]
For Edinburgh Airport Information click here