Edinburgh is a city in two parts. The atmospheric mediaeval Old Town has narrow cobblestone streets and dimly lit closes and wynds (these were once wide enough for a horse and cart), and one of the most famous thoroughfares in the world - the Royal Mile. At one end of the Royal Mile sits the Palace of Holyrood which has associations with Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie, to name but a few. Our Queen uses it today when carrying out official engagements in Scotland. At the top end, perched high on a crag, is the majestic Edinburgh Castle. The castle houses the Honours of Scotland, the oldest crown jewels in Britain, as well as the Stone of Destiny, an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, used for centuries in the inauguration of its kings. In August the castle esplanade is the spectacular home of the world-famous Royal Edinburgh
Edinburgh's Old Town is full of character & is today a popular place to visit but prior to the 18th Century this narrow area was the only liveable space in the city. Every class of society lived here from aristocracy to beggars and thieves. As the city could not expand outwards, due to the marshy land below and a wall that protected its citizens from attack, it had to expand upwards and often these buildings (tenements) were five or six storeys high. Today many of these buildings contain cafes, shops and restaurants. Places of interest here include the Edinburgh Museum, Writers' Museum, Museum of Childhood, St Gile's Cathedral & the Scotch Whisky Experience.
In the mid 18th Century it was decided that something had to be done about the cramped living conditions in Edinburgh so a competition was held for the construction of a New Town, a town which would be a credit to the Hanoverians who were ruling Britain at the time. The land was drained and an elegant New Town was built, sitting almost cheek by jowl with the Old Town, separated by Princes Street. Edinburgh's New Town is the largest complete example of town planning from the Georgian period anywhere in the world. It mixes classical architecture, grand squares, terraces and gardens. Edinburgh was a major centre of thought and learning in the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment which had cultural and political links with Europe and this New Town reflected that period.
A stroll through peaceful Princes Street Gardens is a must for visitors. If you're feeling energetic might like to climb the many steps to the top of the Scott Monument, dedicated to the great writer Sir Walter Scott, for a far-reaching view across the skyline of the Old and New Towns.
There’s nowhere in the world quite like Edinburgh.