Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is one of the most beautiful cities in
Europe. This distinction is partly an accident of Nature, for the city is
built upon a jumble of hills and valleys; however, during the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries the natural geography was enhanced by the works of
a succession of distinguished Georgian and Victorian architects. The result
today is high drama; there are countless spots where Edinburgh looks less
like a city and more like a theatrical backdrop. The view from Edinburgh’s
Calton Hill, accross the River Forth to Fife, looks more like a scene from
Edinburgh incidentally, is named after Edwin, a king of ancient
Northumbria; 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, in
the first instance, made the Scottish capital’s name familiar throughout
the modern world. But there are other, less tangible factors involved, for
Edinburgh is a city thhat delights the mind as well as the eye. It is a city
where 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
great deal to see and to do. Indeed the average holiday visitor can only
dip into the great variety of entertainment and reation that is available.
Add to this the fact that Edinburgh is easily accessible by rail, road, air
and sea, and it becomes obvious why the city has a special place in the
affections of so many. It is, indeed, the most popular tourist destination
in Britain after London.
That Edinburgh is pure theatre is immediately demonstrated as the traveller
emerges from Waverley railway station: he looks along the valley of Princes
Street Gardens and gazes upon Edinburgh Castle, perched dramatically on its
precipitous crag of volcanic rock. To his left, huddled on a lofty ridge,
is the Old Town; halfway allong the valley, among the trees, rise the
classical columns of the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal
Scottish Academy. On his right soars the Scott Monument, a remarkable
tribute to the Edinburgh writer Sir Walter Scott.
Perhaps it is for its Castle which Edinburgh is famous, certainly in the
eyes 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 be
We have now reached the ornamental gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Originally this was a guest house for the adjacent Abbey of Holyrood, but
the 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 dates
from 1671. The Palace is now the residence of Her Majesty the Queen when
she and other members of the Royal Family make their regular visits to
Edinburgh. The Palace is normally open to the public, who are admitted to
the 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 the
floor marking the place where the lifeless body of David Rissio, Queen
Mary’s secretary, was left after he had been stabbed repeatedly by a number
The Palace, however, also has happy associations; there was a brilliant
period in 1745 when it was occupied by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie
Prince Charlie). He was the last Stuart to reside there.
To the north, between the Castle and the Firth of Forth, the spectator has
his first glimpse of Edinburgh’s New Town, which is one of Britain’s
architectural gems. Between the Castle an
perhaps one of the most famous streets in the world.
To the east of the Castle, is Holyrood Park, surely the largest area of
natural landscape within the centre of any European city.
The position of the city between the Pentland Hills to the south-west and
the Firth of Forth to the north reflects the wide range of sport and other
recreational pursuits which are available to visitor and citizen alike.
Portobello, the city’s suburb on the sea, has a fine sandy beach. Further
up the estuary, sailing is a popular sport in season at Granton, Cramond
and Port Edgar. Cramond is an attractively restored village of whitewashed
houses at the mouth of the River Almond. There are attractive walks in the
neighbourhood, including those across the Dalmeny Estate. At Cramond,
antiquarians will be interested in the Roman remains which have been
uncovered in the pleasant grounds of the Parish Church.
Edinburgh and the whole surrounding region is a golfers’ paradise, and many
of the private clubs welcome visitors. The City of Edinburgh itself runs
six golf courses, and there are no fewer than 28 courses altogether within
the city boundaries. At Hillend, on the southern edge of Edinburgh, the
largest artificial ski slope in the United Kingdom offers ski-ing all year
largest of these, Meadowbank, offers facilities in more than 30 sports,
from archery to yoga; the other two, more localised sports centres, are
Craiglockhart, in Colinton Road, and the Jack Kane Centre at Craigmillar.
So far as theatre entertainment is concerned, the City of Edinburgh owns
the King’s Theatre and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, with plays and other shows
presented by either resident or touring companies the year round.
Edinburgh possesses a wide range of restaurants, which offer menus to suit
all tastes and pockets. Visitors looking for the cuisine of other lands and
cultures will find restaurants representative of, for example, France,
Italy, Switzerland, America, Turkey, India, Bangladesh and Hong Kong. Apart
from the restaurants the visitor will also find that the city’s pubs
include a considerable number of particular distinction and character, some
have Victorian or Edwardian interiors carefully conserved.
One of the most popular attractions in the city is Edinburgh Zoo, which is
situated on Corstorphine Hill and run by the Royal Zoological Society of
Scotland. The Zoo has a very comprehensive collection of animals, and it is
a popular day-out for many thousands of Edinburgh families and visitors. It
is open 365 days of the year.
One could go on, it has not been possible yet to describe the splendid
Royal Commonwealth Pool, one of the best swimming pools in the United
Kingdom; or the popular Edinburgh Wax Museum in the High Street; or the
National Gallery of Modern Art; or the Royal Botanic Garden at Inverleith,
with its impressive modern hot-houses and exotic plants; or Duddingston
Loch, with its bird sanctuary in the middle of the city; or the Camera
Obscura in Castlehill. Edinburgh has a wealth of interest for the
The area surrounding Edinburgh forms the beautiful lowlands of Scotland.
The farmland of East Lothian, some of the richest in the country, rises to
The villages of Midlothian and East Lothian are remarkable in terms of
their ancient charm. The photograph shows the ruined churchyard in the
appropriately named village of Temple, which nestles in a sheltered hollow
almost hidden from passing tourists.