Scotland's Capital, World Heritage City and home of the world's largest annual arts
festival - Edinburgh is all this and more. The new Scottish Parliament
complements the historic spendour of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, HM The Queen's official
residence in Scotland. National art collections such as the National Gallery of Scotland,
the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the
Edinburgh Botanical Garden are places
you must visit.
The medieval closes and lanes
of the Old Town and the broad Georgian terraces of the New Town are enhanced by the
attractions at the Museum of Scotland and Dynamic Earth. In the ancient port of Leith the
Former Royal Yacht Britannia gives unparalleled insights into the life and work of the
British Royal Family.
When the Roman "Governor of Britain" Agricola advanced North in AD79 and reached the
mouth of the River Esk at what is now Inveresk, he encountered the Celtic tribe of
Votadinii. The Votadinii controled the Forth River valley and based themselves at Dunedin
. . . what is now probably Edinburgh Castle. There is plenty of archaelogical evidence
that the Roman army mixed on a day to day basis with the locals. After all most of the
Roman army was made up of Celts (Gauls) from mainland Europe. Although they fought, and
defeated the Pictish leader Calgacus at Mons Graupius in AD84, the Romans could never
master Caledonia and by 211 had retreated behind Hadrians wall, about a hundred miles to
the south. By 410 they had left Britain for good.
Although at this time Scottish rulers tended to base
themselves further north across the Forth, King
Malcolm III Canmore (died 1093) built his castle at Edinburgh, and his wife Queen (Saint) Margaret built a chapel within its
walls - now the oldest building in the city. Her son, David I built the Abbey at Holyrood,
a mile to the East along "The Royal Mile". Castle and Abbey became the anchor
points of Edinburgh; a thriving town grew up along side the road between them, connected
to Lieth, Edinburgh's port and trade-link to the world. During the Wars of Independence Edinburgh Castle was captured by the English until
Robert the Bruce's nephew, Thomas Randolph daringly recapture it by climbing its steep and
craggy sides in the dead of night. Robert the Bruce granted Edinburgh a Royal Charter in
1329. If Edinburgh did not grow outwards at this time, it did grow upwards. By the end of
the 1500's it was established as the Capital of Scotland, and growing in population the
inhabitants chose to build high houses close to the protection of the Castle: high
tennement buildings most of which can be seen to this day. When King James VI inherited
the throne of England in 1603, Edinburgh ceased to be the principal site of the royal
court, although it did continue to have its own Parliament.
Everything changed after the Act of Union in 1707 . . .
Parliament ceased in Edinburgh, but the city prospered. The loch below the North side of
the castle was filled in. New streets and and thousands of houses were planned and built
in the Classical fashion. This period of energetic building during the
"Enlightenment", which lasted into the 1800's, has left the city one of the most
architecturally beautiful in the world.
Throughout the city, restaurants and shops mix the best
elements of the traditional and the modern. State of the art complexes like Waverly
Shopping Centre and the renowned department stores of Princes Street, such as Jenners,
combine with the designer labels of George Street to pressure your credit card into
submission. Every type of restaurant is on offer from the only Hard Rock Café in the UK
outside of London to the trendy seafood bistros of Leith. And over 700 bars will quench
even the biggest thirst.
If that's not enough, festivals and events, theatres and
night clubs, concerts and casinos all ensure year round entertainment and spectacle.
But even with the many new developments, at heart Edinburgh
remains a city of small villages. A short trip from the city centre brings you to coastal
communities such as Crammond and Portobello or the speciality shops of urban villages like
Stockbridge and Bruntsfield which capture the essence of Edinburgh - a cosmopolitan city
of friendly faces and secret delights.
Edinburgh is one of the world's great capital cities
combining tradition and modernity to stunning effect. Now is the time to experience
Unlike many cities, Edinburgh is not surrounded by mile upon countless mile of urban
sprawl. From the city centre you can see the open waters of the Firth of Forth and the
wild tops of the Pentland Hills.
Within a few miles of the city centre are the Lothians, an
area of beautiful coast and countryside with a rich history which offers the very best of
Here are historic towns such as Linlithgow, the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Haddington, a Royal Burgh
with over 250 listed buildings. Here too are fascinating conservation villages like rural
Gifford and the colourful old mining commuity of Newtongrange. And don't miss the
traditional seaside resorts of North Berwick and Dunbar, Scotland's driest and sunniest
Throughout the Lothians there are visitor attractions to
entertain all the family. History is waiting to be discovered at dozens of castles,
churches and country houses.
The past is brought to life at attractions like the Museum of
Flight, Almond Valley Heritage Centre and the Scottish Mining Museum. Alternatively, raise
your glass to Edinburgh Crystal Visitor Centre, Freeport Shopping and Leisure Village and
Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery, the home of the Edinburgh Malt.
But perhaps it's the great outdoors which make the Lothians
so special. From the wide sandy beaches of the east to the country parks of the west and
the empty hills in between, the Lothians are ideal country for the outdoor enthusiast.
With sailing marinas, riding and pony trekking centres, renowned bridwatching reserves,
over 30 golf courses and countless miles of cycleways and footpaths, no one day is long enough.
The Scottish countryside is famous the world over. Look to
the Lothians to enjoy it at its very best.