EdenburghEdinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is one of the most beautiful cities inEurope. This distinction is partly an accident of Nature, for the city isbuilt upon a jumble of hills and valleys; however, during the eighteenthand nineteenth centuries the natural geography was enhanced by the works ofa succession of distinguished Georgian and Victorian architects. The resulttoday is high drama; there are countless spots where Edinburgh looks lesslike a city and more like a theatrical backdrop. The view from Edinburgh’sCalton Hill, across the River Forth to Fife, looks more like a scene fromancient Rome.Edinburgh incidentally, is named after Edwin, a king of ancientNorthumbria; it has been a Royal Burgh since at least the twelfth century,and has been recognised as the capital of Scotland since the fifteenth.Edinburgh’s face is her fortune, for it was this dramatic beauty which, inthe first instance, made the Scottish capital’s name familiar throughoutthe modern world. But there are other, less tangible factors involved, forEdinburgh is a city that delights the mind as well as the eye. It is a citywhere the past lives comfortably with the present. It is a gracious place,in the way that many other cities used to be.Edinburgh is also a well endowed city, in the sense that there really is agreat deal to see and to do. Indeed the average holiday visitor can onlydip into the great variety of entertainment and reation that is available.Add to this the fact that Edinburgh is easily accessible by rail, road, airand sea, and it becomes obvious why the city has a special place in theaffections of so many. It is, indeed, the most popular tourist destinationin Britain after London.
That Edinburgh is pure theatre is immediately demonstrated as the travelleremerges from Waverley railway station: he looks along the valley of PrincesStreet Gardens and gazes upon Edinburgh Castle, perched dramatically on itsprecipitous crag of volcanic rock. To his left, huddled on a lofty ridge,is the Old Town; halfway along the valley, among the trees, rise theclassical columns of the National Gallery of Scotland and the RoyalScottish Academy. On his right soars the Scott Monument, a remarkabletribute to the Edinburgh writer Sir Walter Scott.
Perhaps it is for its Castle which Edinburgh is famous, certainly in theeyes of countless tourists.
To the north, between the Castle and the Firth of Forth is the New Town.But, first, the visitor is recommended to walk down through the Old Town,running to the east directly below the castle ramparts.
We have now reached the ornamental gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.Originally this was a guest house for the adjacent Abbey of Holyrood, butthe Palace was begun for King James IV in the early sixteenth century.However, most of the Palace seen today was built for Charles II and datesfrom 1671. The Palace is now the residence of Her Majesty the Queen whenshe and other members of the Royal Family make their regular visits toEdinburgh. The Palace is normally open to the public, who are admitted tothe State apartments and the historical apartments. Mary, Queen of Scots,spent the six tragic years of her reign here.
Near the Queen’s supper room, visitors are shown a brass tablet in thefloor marking the place where the lifeless body of David Rissio, QueenMary’s secretary, was left after he had been stabbed repeatedly by a numberof nobles.The Palace, however, also has happy associations; there was a brilliantperiod in 1745 when it was occupied by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (BonniePrince Charlie). He was the last Stuart to reside there.
To the north, between the Castle and the Firth of Forth, the spectator hashis first glimpse of Edinburgh’s New Town, which is one of Britain’sarchitectural gems. Between the Castle and the new Town is Princes Street,perhaps one of the most famous streets in the world.
To the east of the Castle, is Holyrood Park, surely the largest area ofnatural landscape within the centre of any European city.
The position of the city between the Pentland Hills to the south-west andthe Firth of Forth to the north reflects the wide range of sport and otherrecreational pursuits which are available to visitor and citizen alike.Portobello, the city’s suburb on the sea, has a fine sandy beach. Furtherup the estuary, sailing is a popular sport in season at Granton, Cramondand Port Edgar. Cramond is an attractively restored village of whitewashedhouses at the mouth of the River Almond. There are attractive walks in theneighbourhood, including those across the Dalmeny Estate. At Cramond,antiquarians will be interested in the Roman remains which have beenuncovered in the pleasant grounds of the Parish Church.
Edinburgh and the whole surrounding region is a golfers’ paradise, and manyof the private clubs welcome visitors. The City of Edinburgh itself runssix golf courses, and there are no fewer than 28 courses altogether withinthe city boundaries. At Hillend, on the southern edge of Edinburgh, thelargest artificial ski slope in the United Kingdom offers ski-ing all yearround. The City of Edinburgh also operates three sports centres; thelargest of these, Meadowbank, offers facilities in more than 30 sports,from archery to yoga; the other two, more localised sports centres, areCraiglockhart, in Colinton Road, and the Jack Kane Centre at Craigmillar.So far as theatre entertainment is concerned, the City of Edinburgh ownsthe King’s Theatre and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, with plays and other showspresented by either resident or touring companies the year round.Edinburgh possesses a wide range of restaurants, which offer menus to suitall tastes and pockets. Visitors looking for the cuisine of other lands andcultures will find restaurants representative of, for example, France,Italy, Switzerland, America, Turkey, India, Bangladesh and Hong Kong. Apartfrom the restaurants the visitor will also find that the city’s pubsinclude a considerable number of particular distinction and character, somehave Victorian or Edwardian interiors carefully conserved.One of the most popular attractions in the city is Edinburgh Zoo, which issituated on Corstorphine Hill and run by the Royal Zoological Society ofScotland. The Zoo has a very comprehensive collection of animals, and it isa popular day-out for many thousands of Edinburgh families and visitors. Itis open 365 days of the year.One could go on, it has not been possible yet to describe the splendidRoyal Commonwealth Pool, one of the best swimming pools in the UnitedKingdom; or the popular Edinburgh Wax Museum in the High Street; or theNational Gallery of Modern Art; or the Royal Botanic Garden at Inverleith,with its impressive modern hot-houses and exotic plants; or DuddingstonLoch, with its bird sanctuary in the middle of the city; or the CameraObscura in Castlehill… Edinburgh has a wealth of interest for thevisitor.
The area surrounding Edinburgh forms the beautiful lowlands of Scotland.The farmland of East Lothian, some of the richest in the country, rises towindswept hills.
The villages of Midlothian and East Lothian are remarkable in terms oftheir ancient charm. The photograph shows the ruined churchyard in theappropriately named village of Temple, which nestles in a sheltered hollowalmost hidden from passing tourists.