Perched high above the city, Edinburgh Castle commands its position, looming atop a dormant volcano. Throughout the ages, this solid stronghold has remained an integral part of Scotland’s narrative, bearing witness to tumultuous chapters in its history. Memorable sieges, such as those led by Cromwell in 1650 and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, have left their mark on this fortress of stone. Today, its weathered battlements offer breathtaking panoramas of the city, attracting over a million annual visitors who traverse its grounds.
St Giles’ Cathedral
Flowing through Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Royal Mile pulsates as the lifeline that sustains the bustling city. This historic thoroughfare holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Nestled at its midpoint stands St Giles’ Cathedral, an awe-inspiring Gothic masterpiece that has graced the city for 900 years, paying homage to its patron saint. Be sure not to overlook The Thistle Chapel, adorned with exquisite Neo-Gothic craftsmanship and a ceiling adorned in shimmering gold leaf.
Lovingly referred to as the Gothic Rocket by the people of Edinburgh, the Scott Monument stands tall and proud, overlooking the bustling shoppers along Princes Street. Erected in memory of the esteemed Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott, following his passing in 1832, it holds the distinction of being the second-largest monument in the world dedicated to a writer. Adventurous individuals can ascend the monolith’s narrow spiral staircase, comprised of 287 steps, reaching a panoramic viewing platform at its pinnacle. From this vantage point, one can savor the sweeping 360-degree vistas of Central Edinburgh.
The Balmoral Hotel
Standing proudly at the junction of Princes Street and North Bridge, The Balmoral emerges as an emblem of the enchanting era when steam trains reigned supreme. Originally constructed in 1902 as a hotel catering to travelers arriving at Waverley station, it welcomed guests with a unique convenience. The hotel’s clock deliberately remains three minutes ahead, safeguarding passengers from missing their trains, reverting to the accurate time only when New Year’s Eve arrives. J.K. Rowling completed the final chapter of her literary saga, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” within one of its rooms.
National Monument of Scotland
The National Monument on top of Calton Hill is known by many monikers: Edinburgh’s Disgrace, Edinburgh’s Folly and The Pride and Poverty of Scotland, to name a few. The monument was funded by public subscription, intended to be Scotland’s tribute to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who fought and perished in the Napoleonic Wars. It was designed by architectural heavyweight William Playfair.
The Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament, encompassing the 17th-century Queensferry House within its complex, represents a significant milestone in Scotland’s history since the return of self-governance through devolution in 1999. This institution is evolving into a historic landmark. In 2004, nearly three centuries after the dissolution of the last Scottish Parliament, the inaugural debate took place within the newly completed building.
The Usher Hall is a remarkable venue, constructed in the Beaux Arts architectural style, which emerged from a competition held in 1910. It stands as a testament to the generosity of its patron, Andrew Usher, a prominent whisky distiller and blender, who contributed £100,000 to the city for the purpose of constructing a magnificent music hall for concerts and recitals. The Hall is renowned for its exceptional acoustics.