…After we arrived to Edinburgh Bus Station around 22:00 we were in a rush, because we had to find our hostel and check in there. Eventually we came there just after 23:00.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. The population of this city is around 490 thousands people. In whole city region lives more than 1,3mo. Edinburgh is recognized like a capital of Scotland since XV century. This city is home to the Scottish Parliament and seat of the monarchy in Scotland.
Our acommodation was based in Rosburn, western part of Edinburgh. We decided to scout Edinburgh must-see places randomly on foot (Pic.1). I would like to list all nice places, which we have been seeing. Between this I will insert some events, which we have met during this time.
Our first seen monument was the Donaldson School – founded in 1851. First it was the Donaldson Hospital building. The object was built in Tudor’s architecture characterized by large corner towers. Tudor architecture has an brick and stone masonry with large brick chimneys and as usual very big windows. The Donaldson Hospital were closed in 2003, because the builting was no long fit purpose. In 2008 the Donaldson School was opened. The building wasn’t accessible for us (Pic.2).
In the way towards city centre we met a lot of people going in the opposite direction to see the rugby match between Scotland and Ireland. Rugby is the most common sport in the UK, so it always gathers many fans (Pic. 3,4).
Our next stop was St Mary’s Cathedral Edinburgh, a nice church, which was built in the late XIX century. This church is situated in the West End of the Edinburgh’s New Town. This is the only cathedral in Scotland to maintain a tradition of daily choral services with choristers drawn from its own choir school. It was also the first Cathdral in Britain to employ girls in the treble line as well as boys in 1978 (Pic. 5,6,7).
Walking along cosy lanes and some modern buildings we came into the Edinburgh’s Old Town. West entrance to the Old Town opens Grassmarket, the historical Market Square. This not big place is located directly below the Edinburgh Castle (Pic. 8,9).
Moreover it forms part of one of the main east-west vehicle arteries through the city centre. In this place you can see many restaurants, gift shops and cosy pubs. The biggest surprise for me was a men wearing skirt. The point is, that this garmet of clotching is not a skirt but a Kilt. Kilt is the product of the amazing Gaelic heritage that the modern-day Scots are proud of. If you will say directly to person dressed like this you may be in trouble. This is a few myths about their Kilt. One of the myth says, that Scottish males are not wearing anything underneath the Kilt! Hence the ladies and tourists when seeing that guy are wonders if that handsome Scottish gentleman is a “True Scotsman” or not! Another myth says, that In Scotland is impossible to distinguish male toilets from female ones. We met another handsome Scotsmans later also. Let’s stress Handsome! Whatever the age! (Pic. 10,11) And competitive among young model girls. Some of them won’t pass their prime.
Wandering through the beautiful Old Town you will admire a tall, old buildings finished with casing stones and narrow paved streets. One of the most beaufiul, embeded just under the Castle hill is Victoria Street (Pic.12).
This is one for the most photographed location in the city. Here in gentle curve amidst colorful shopfronts is one of the best spots for tourist photos and postcards. This magic lane leads us a front of Scottish National Library, which is a main example of modern architecture (1980’s) (Pic. 13).
From this place we turned left twice to be on the High Street finally, which leads directly to the Castle (Pic.14).
Before you enter to the Castle you will enjoy amazing view around the Edinburgh and surrounding areas. Castle Hill (Castle Rock) is a vulcanic plug formed around 350 milion years ago during the early Carboniferus period. This rock remains of a volcanic pipe with 130 metres above sea level. The best view onto Castle Rock is from the south, west and north where tourist can see towering rocky cliffs risinbg up to 80m. Hence only way to the Castle lies to the east, where the ridge slopes more gently (Pic. 14).
The Castle’s forecourt is quite wide. This is the best place to see the castle walls. I am not sure, that this view is still available, because Google earth shows me, that some new construction has been built there (Pic. 15), which is absolutely not suitable to the scene! Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress since at least the reign of David I in the XII century. Next the site was a royal residence up to XV century. Between XV and XVII century the Castle was using as a military barracks with a large garrison. Since early XIX century onwards many restoration programmes have been carried out. Today the Edinburgh Castle is a part of Scotland’s Natural Heritage. This object is really well woth to see, however we didn’t go inside due to payable admission.
Walking down the High Street from the Castle you can see a few nice landmarks. One of them is St. Giles Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh. This is the principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh. This place remembers an religious conflict between Scottish and Anglican Church. Next to the church the Parliament of Scotland is situated. When you go downwards the High Street you will see the Tron Kirk, a former principal parish church. This church was closed in 2008 and has been turned into market. When I saw it I felt really dissapointed as a catholic person. I didn’t know before about this kind of way to use the church (Pic. 20,21). I saw it for the first time! Possibly because of this, that I am from Poland, which is traditional catholic country and every church is using only for religious things.
Outside the Castle and Old Town you may visit another 2 big spots: Arthur Seat with beautiful Salisbury Crags and Calton Hill with many historical remnants (Pic. 22). When we was walking towards the Arthur’s hill we saw such a beautiful Hollyrood Palace (Pic. 23). This Palace has been built on the rouns former Hollyrood Abbey. This place became a big residention for the English monarchies, whose lived in Scotland.
We climbed onto Arthur’s Seat from the north site, where a big green park are situated. This whole area is the Holyrood Park. Many Edinburgh’s inhabitants come here to take some climbing over the Salisbury Crags, jogging or walking on the top of the hill. The top of Arthur’s Seat grants a breathtaking view of Edinburg (particularly the Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill) and surrounding areas (Pic. 24-28). The Arthur’s Seat is the former volcano, formed around 350 milion years ago. Next the hill was eroded by glacier moving from west to east during the Quartenary, approximately the last two milion years, exposing rocky crags to the west and leaving a tail of material swept to the east. The hills rises above the city to a height around 250m and provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond.
Last place, where we have been to was a Calton Hill. The way from Arthur’s Seat to the Calton Hill isn’t long. We passed by the Hollyrood Palace and headed for the big Calton Old Cemetery (Pic. 30). This cemetery was located on the previous Old Calton Burial Ground. On the west side of this graveyard you can see the watchtower (Pic. 31). This watchtower was built at upper corner of the cemetery to procect against graverobbing. The object was occupied as a house for most of its history. Despite of being tiny (with 5m internal diameter only) is said to have accommodated a family of ten at one time. Parents used to sleep on the central floor (livingroom), daughters on the top floor and sons on the lower floor.
Calton Hill is located in the central Edinburgh. This is a headquater of Scottish Government, based at St. Andrews House. There is an Scottish Parliament Building Too. On the hill you can see also several notable monuments like National Monument (Pic. 32,33), Nelson monument (Pic. 32) and Dugald Stewart Monument (Pic. 34). One of the most important places in the Old Royal High School, also known as a New Parliament House (Pic. 35). This is a 19th century neoclassical building was housing the school until 1968. After school relocation the vacated building was considerated by the Scottish Office as a home for the Scottish Parliament until 1997, when the Parliament was moved to the Hollyrood Palace, situated just under the hill. On the very top of the hill we saw the City Observatory (Pic. 36). The Playfair Building is an astronomical observatory, which was established in 1776.
The Calton Hill gave us a nice possibility to see whole Old Town with towering Castle beyond (Pic. 37). We could see better the Firth of Forth also (Pic. 38). It was nice to stay there until sunset, around 18:30. After this time we went down into the Princes Street and passed by the Balmoral Hotel (Pic. 39). Barmoral Hotel is the five-star hotel and landmark, known as a North Brittish Hotel. The location on the Princess Street is very good, because the Princess Street is the most shopping street in the Edinburgh. Just next to the Princess Mall Shopping Centre is situated the Scottish Monument. This is a Victorian Gothic Monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It is the largest monument to a writer in the world (Pic. 40). When it got darker we headed for the bus station. We passed through the Edinburgh Waverley railway station, which is the principal station serving the capital of Scotland (Pic. 41). This is also the northern terminus of the East Coast Main Line (633km) from London King’s Cross.
We were straddling around the Bus Station until 22:00, when we caught the Megabus and return to London on the next day in the morning.
Piggot S., 1982, Scotland before history, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, ISBN 0-85224-470-3.
McWilliam C., Walker D., 1984, Buildings of Scotland, Penguin, London
Complete National Rail Timetable (in:) Network Rail. May 2013. p. 43. Retrieved 5 June 2013
City of Edinburgh Council: Guidelines to Five City Centre Graveyards, 2004
“Museums and galleries – Scott Monument”. The City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh.