Edinburgh, a city with a historic centre containing Medieval and Georgian buildings, is dominated by the cliffs of Arthur’s Seat to the south and Carlton Hill to the north .Edinburgh represents Scotland’s cultural, historical and artistic centre and has the largest concentration of monuments, after the city of London.
The geography of the surrounding area, consisting of hills and valleys, has played an important part in shaping the city and giving Edinburgh its unusual and interesting form. The city is divided into two large areas, separated by Princes Street. Princes Street, the city’s main street, is one mile long and lined with hotels, shops and interesting public and private offices. The two zones of the city are linked by the valley area, site of Princes Street Gardens. The Old Town, enclosed by the city walls, is situated between the castle and the Palace of Holyrood. This area contains the major part of Edinburgh’s Medieval historical centre. The area is tightly compacted around 66 small lanes which branch off the two main streets of the zone Grassmarket and the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a long street, divided into four parts and runs from Castle Hill to Canongate, proceeding along Lawnmarket, the High Street and finishing in front of the Palace of Holyrood. Strolling along this street, the visitor has the opportunity to visit some of the city’s interesting buildings including Lady Stair’s House, a 17th-century building, which houses a display on the life and work of Burns, Scott and Stevenson and the 15th century St. Giles Cathedral, the city’s main church complete with the ornate, Gothic style Thistle Chapel.
The High Street, the most important stretch of the Royal Mile, is rich in Scottish tradition and home to both Parliament House, an Italian style building from 1630, now seat of the court of justice and the Museum of Childhood. The 15th century residence of the reformer John Knox is situated in front of the Museum of Childhood.
Canongate, the last stretch of the Royal Mile, is the longest and was once an independent district of the city, owned by bishops of the Holyrood Abbey. Beyond Marocco’s land, the road continues until the extreme east of the Royal Mile and the site of the Holyrood Palace, which today is the official Scottish residence of the Queen of England.
New Town, to the north, spreads beyond the city walls and has the typical architectural features of an 18th-century town, evident in the uniformity of its noble Georgian- fronted buildings, with large squares and immense gardens. George Street, which runs parallel to Princes Street, is one of Edinburgh’s most elegant streets and the site of the Assembly Rooms, the Music Hall and St. Andrew, the first church built in New Town. Queen Street is the city’s most renowned residential district and is lined with 18th and 19th century offices and buildings, with elegant side-streets and round squares.
Georgian House, in the heart of New Town, looks onto Charlotte Street. This excellent example of Georgian Architecture possesses original furniture from the same period. The house can be visited every day from April to October. Queen Street is also the site of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which contains portraits of famous people born in Scotland, from the 16th century up to the present time. The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Mary is located at the end of Melville Street in the western part of New Town. The cathedral is one of the largest buildings in Great Britain. Edinburgh has two universities. The one built in 1582, is renowned for its faculty of medicine.
Hotels and lodging
Edinburgh Hotels Lists the hotels in Edinburgh for every budget.
The George The George Hotel (or The George as it is affectionately known) is a fine hotel that is very deserving of its 4 stars. The hotel is located in the center of the city close by Princess Gardens and near the Castle, which is just up the hill. Rooms tend to be small but quiet and luxurious. Broadband Internet access is available in many rooms. Breakfast is a delightful buffet. Better rates can often be obtained online in advance at the hotel website.
The castle stands on a basalt mound of volcanic origin. Beautiful and romantic, the castle complex comprises buildings dating from the 12th to the 20th century and reflect the various roles the castle has played: fortress, military prison and royal palace. It was the royal residence until the union of the crown in 1603, when the King established his London residence. The castle is the birthplace of James VI, son of Mary Queen of Scots, and houses the ensigns of the Scottish royal family. Today the building functions as the official seat of the Royal Scots Regiment and houses the War Museum and the Army Museum.
The castle is open every day, from April to September, from 9:30 am to 5pm. The National Gallery of Scotland, one of the richest picture-galleries in Europe, is situated in The Mound and houses works from such important artists as: Rubens, Holbein, Tiziano, Raffaello, Tintoretto, the French impressionists and the British Ramsay, Reynolds and Gainsborough. The building is open every day from 10am to 5pm. The National Gallery of Modern Art is located in Belford Road and houses fine examples of European and American art from the 20th century, including works from Magritte, Lichenstein and Moore. The gallery is open every day from 10am to 5pm.
During the month of August, Edinburgh is host to a number of Festivals. The 'Edinburgh Festival', a festival of international music and drama which sees important presentations in the field of theatre, dance and opera; the Fringe Festival, an alternative arts festival which is now the largest arts festival in the world; the Edinburgh International Film Festival, now in its 60th year; the Jazz & Blues Festival; the Edinburgh International Book Festival; the Edinburgh Art Festival. The castle grounds are the site for the Edinburgh Tattoo, a military exhibition with marching bands and Scottish bagpipers.
The Scottish Border Tour, 50 km long, is dotted with the ruins of ancient buildings and abbeys from the 12th century. The Tour stops off in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Kelso, Jedburgh, Tweed and Melrose. The lush hilly region, south of Edinburgh, has the River Tweed running through it and is referred to as the Land of Scott. For it was here, that the writer Walter Scott, built Abbotsford House and Galashiles and where he spent the last years of his life. Visitors can view the house’s study, library and Knight’s Room. The house is open every day, from March to October. The interesting ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, stand on the banks of the river Tweed. The abbey, which dates back to 1150, is the site of Walter Scotts resting place.. The ruins of Melrose Abbey, occupy a wonderful position, at the foot of the Tweed valley. The outline of the cloisters, the outer structure of the church and the medieval sculptures are all that remain of the building, founded in the 12th century by Cistercian monks. The Pentland Hills lie 26 km south west of Edinburgh and are an ideal location for hiking along the many well-signposted paths. At Hillend it is possible to take a chair lift to the top of the 490 metre- high Allermuir.
Maps and transportation
Getting to Edinburgh
Edinburgh Flights Lists and compares the cheapest flights to Edinburgh.
The city possesses neither a metropolitan transport system, nor a tram service. The public transport system is based on the use of buses. Lothian Buses and First Edinburgh, operate the service in and around the city. Given that it is forbidden to park a car in the centre of Edinburgh, the buses circulate easily and quickly. Weekly and daily travelcards exist at a reduced price and permit travel on all routes.
Driving and parking in Edinburgh is a problem, and parking space is very limited, with certain zones requiring resident permits. It is therefore advisable to use one of the NCP car parks, such as the one in St. James Centre or that in Casle Terrace, or the Waverly Car Park in New Street.
Practical information and resources
- Electric supply: 220 Volts/250 Volts.
- Climate: the best months to visit Edinburgh are between May and September .
- Opening hours: Shops are open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm. The banks are open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. The post offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm.
- Edinburgh Festival The city hosts a huge international arts festival during the last two weeks of August and the first week of September. The 'official' festival is dwarfed by the 'Fringe' - comprising alternative theatre, comedy and the visual arts.
Many of the restaurants and eating places along the Royal Mile offer low priced meals.
The city offers interesting night-life throughout the year. The Tourism Office in Prince Street, handles booking for the various exhibitions and shows. Traditional Scottish evenings are organised in the lounges of the King James Hotel, Scandic Crown Hotel and the Carlton Highland Hotel. Edinburgh is home to over 700 bars and pubs.
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