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Edinburgh & Lothians

Edinburgh & Lothians

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 Edinburgh.

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 Scotland.

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 town.

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.

Edinburgh & Lothians

Edinburgh & Lothians

Edinburgh & Lothians

Balmoral Hotel
Balmoral Hotel

Edinburgh & Lothians

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