Edinburgh is the breathtakingly beautiful capital of Scotland, an exciting place to visit at any time of year. Edinburgh offers you superb sightseeing, historic buildings to explore, quiet galleries and museums to intrigue you, thrilling new attractions to discover, serious shopping, a vast choice of excellent Restaurants, Bistros, Wine Bars, Pubs and Cafes, and nightlife to suit all tastes.
When the Picts built a fort on a volcanic crag in the 5th century, to protect Scotland from the invading Angles of Northumberland, Edinburgh’s history began. The present Castle, was built on the site by Michael Canmore (1057-93); his wife St. Margaret, built the chapel which you can still visit today.
Edinburgh and the port of Leith were granted a charter by Robert the Bruce, and from this time its prosperity and population grew. Building space was limited within the fortification wall, and so the town grew upwards. Tall buildings (tenements), some up to fourteen stories high with narrow alleys (wynds) between were built, and what is known as “old town” developed down the royal mile to Holyrood Abbey. People were crowded together, noblemen, thieves, artisans and shopkeepers. This was the Edinburgh of Mary Queen of Scots, of the famous preacher John Knox, whose house you can still see, and of Heroes such as the Marquis of Montrose.Edinburgh had much to be proud of, it was home to the Scottish Parliament and the University of Edinburgh; the town had survived everything from war, civil and religious strife, to overcrowding, severe shortage of water and outbreak of the plague.
The Union of Parliaments in 1707 removed Scotland’s independence, but by this time Edinburgh was established as Scotland’s capital with its fine University, its own legal system and growing foreign trade coming up the Forth to the port of Leith.Today Edinburgh is once again the home of Scottish Parliament for the first time in 300 years.
Free at last from the fear of invasion Edinburgh was able to grow beyond its medieval walls. In the mid 18th century the loch surrounding the castle was drained, North Bridge was built, and what is known as “new town” burgeoned forth. No longer confined for space, plans were drawn up by James Craig for wide streets and grand squares. It was Craig’s plans which we should thank for building on only one side of Princes Street and Queen Street, allowing for the beautiful public gardens opposite.
Georgian Edinburgh grew throughout the remainder of the 18th and 19th centuries. The first public building, Register House, was designed by Robert Adam; he also designed the University and the north side of Charlotte Square. Many classical buildings such as the National Gallery of Scotland inspired by ancient Greece grace the city centre and from these, Edinburgh became known as the “Athens of the North”. Edinburgh blossomed into one of Europe’s cultural centres. This was the Edinburgh of James Boswell, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott; of the philosopher David Hume and the political economist Adam Smith; and of the painter Sir Henry Raeburn and the engineer Thomas Telford.
Upholding its tradition for culture Edinburgh hosts the annual International Festival, three weeks of the very best of music, opera, drama and ballet. Although the Festival only lasts for three weeks, you will find top class entertainment of every sort, all year in Edinburgh.
From Edinburgh Castle downward, Historic Houses, Churches, Galleries and Museums surround you, each with its own history to share and for you to discover and marvel at.
Apart from its varied and stunning Architecture, Edinburgh is a visually beautiful place, with many parks and gardens, to take aleisurely stroll through, or simply sit and watch the world go by. For those who enjoy gardens you are in for a treat! Edinburgh is the home of the world famous Royal Botanic Garden, which you will not want to miss.Shopping in Edinburgh is a delight; there is everything on offer here. Edinburgh is home to the world’s oldest independent department store, a shopping experience not to be missed. Designer Fashion, Boutiques, Antiques, Tartan Tammies, whatever takes your fancy you will be spoiled for choice in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh boasts lots of sporting and leisure pursuits – take your pick – you can visit a Sports Centre, Archery Centre or Swimming Pool; go Kart Racing and visit a Dry Ski Centre; Sail on the Firth of Forth, play Golf and go Fishing, visit a Country Park or walk in the Pentland Hills.