If there is anywhere that could rival Oxford as the City of spires, it would be Edinburgh. The Scottish Capital has a history spanning centuries, with layer upon layer of streets that guide you through the city’s lifeline. It would be impossible for me to cover every facet of this sensational location.However I will try to pinpoint the aspects that stood out to me in four different Edinburgh guides.
Edinburgh – A historical guide
Edinburgh’s old and modern town exist side by side, reminiscent of many continental cities. With a station valley in the middle, the Georgian new town rises up on one side blending into the elder old town on the other. Today’s Edinburgh has merged with both old and new and this could be why the city feels like it is brimming with life. All of these periods are threaded together, ever-evolving, and while you are there you are a part of that city.
Edinburgh castle sits on guard over the city on Castle rock. Elements of this castle date back to the 1100’s in the form of St Margaret’s chapel, where beautiful stained glass windows play tribute to St Margaret and William Wallace.
Visit the room known to be the birthplace of James I and marvel at the impressive Scottish crown jewels. The castle grounds are home to the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo and it is surprising when you see the small space where the displays take place.
A spectacle that is enjoyed by guests is the firing of the one o’clock cannon, which takes place every day except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day. You can then steady your nerves at the Whisky gift shop that often hosts free tastings.
Continue down Castle rock to the Royal Mile where many of the city’s museums can be found. The Royal Mile is in fact a collective of five streets leading from the castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and consists of a scottish mile, being a tad longer than a standard mile. The Museum of Childhood, John Knox’s house and The Museum of Writers can all be found in this area.
One of the joys of Edinburgh is found in exploring the old town’s closes and wynds. The best tip I was given was to explore as many of these as you can find as this is where the real Edinburgh of the past was lived. I discovered so many awesome places just from my following my curiosity.
Here I uncovered a row of houses refurbished from the remains of an old mill. Signs of Edinburgh’s industrial past are there for you to see and it is these quirks that make the city so interesting.
In the city suburb of Morningside, you can stumble upon Edinburgh’s own Wild West.
As you wander around Edinburgh you may notice that the old city appears to be living on two levels, but there are in fact three. Hidden below the old town is a secret underground city waiting to be explored. The keepers of The Real Mary King’s Close await to guide you through the dark streets and tell the stories of those that lived in this underworld.
Emerge back into the light and find your way to nearby Grassmarket. This was a rare green space in the old town where merchant markets were held. This area is home to some of Edinburgh’s older pubs, the White Hart Inn for example, and is a great place to stop for a meal. The Wee pub is also located here, reportedly the smallest pub in Edinburgh.
Around the corner to Candlemaker’s row and you will come upon the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, next to the pub of the same namesake. The story of Greyfriars Bobby is a sweet tale to tell. John Grey was a night-watchman of the city along with his Skye Terrier, Bobby. When John Gray passed away he was buried at nearby Greyfriar’s kirk. Every day following until the end of his life 14 years later, Bobby made his way to the grave of his owner to sit patiently by. Bobby was buried with his master and a gravestone marks the spot in Greyfriar’s kirk along with a pile of sticks that guests have brought by as tribute.
You get the idea….there is so much to see in Edinburgh, everywhere your head turns there is something of interest. The above list is not inclusive of all the sites to see in Edinburgh’s heart by any means. There are so many it is impossible to mention them all. But that is the beauty of this city, I barely scratched the surface here and that leaves plenty for you to discover on your visits.
Coming up….find out more about the Georgian new town in the Royal and Literary guides, plus where to find the magical sights of the city!