Monday, 10 August 2009
Edinburgh deserves its reputation as one of Europe's best cities to visit. It's small enough to walk around and see the best bits. It's hilly topography- and the castle's position high up in the centre of town - makes Scotland's capital one of the more beautiful cities in Britain. And it's vibrant combination of medieval history and contemporary culture ensures that there is something for everyone.
Most of the city is a World Heritage Site, thanks to it's colourful and pertinent history, as well as it's ancient and modern architecture. And it is also home to the queen's Scotland residence - Holyroodhouse.
For a complete list of what to do, check out the official website.
Here are a couple of must-do's.
- Visit the castle, and make sure you do the tours, which are free and last about 15 minutes. You'll get an entertaining and fascinating insight into Scotland, the Scots, Edinburgh...and how Edinburgh Castle has often been central to them. The castle is more than just an impressive building. It houses the "Honours of Scotland" - the ancient crown and spectre of the Scottish kingdom. And the castle is home to St Margaret's Chapel, built in 1130, and the oldest building in the region.
But perhaps my favourite part was the Scottish National War Memorial. The name of every single Scot who died in the world wars (as well as smaller, yet no less significant wars, such as the Anglo Boer war in South Africa) is documented in large registry books...more than 200 000 names are listed, and include date of birth, death and cause of death. And for those who died unknown, there is an adjoining memorial...
- Walk up Arthur's Seat. This 250 metre-high hill is in the middle of the city, and gives great views across the city. Romantics will believe that the name derives from King Arthur, but skeptics will probably agree that it comes from "Archers' Seat", alluding to it's strong defensive position. Both Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh Castle are built on extinct remnants of ancient volcanoes. Take a picnic with you, and enjoy the sunset...
- Explore the haunted past. As Edinburgh expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries, buildings were built upon other buildings, and eventually a network of subterranean passages were formed. Initially they were used as storerooms, but during economic depressions they were used as homes by the poor migrants arriving in the city. During the black plague in the late 1600s, it is believed that the majority of the ill lived in the area around Mary King's Close, a street in the "Old Town". The medieval authorities took the decision to board up the area, trapping the sickly and letting them die within the compound. Plenty of paranormal and haunted tales have been recorded...so scare the living daylights out of your kids and do the Real Mary King's Close tour.
Below are photos from the Tattoo, when the castle is lit up with various efffects...
Posted at 21:03