Edinburgh is one of the finest cities of the World. An old town - historic, atmospheric, compact and vibrant - and a neo-classical New Town, obviously planned - spacious, almost symmetric in places with ample gardens and open spaces. It is an international festival city, capital of Scotland and once again the seat of the country’s parliament. Edinburgh is well and truly on the international map.
Served by its own international airport, Edinburgh takes its place as one of the cultural and educational centres of Europe with the annual Edinburgh International Festival attracting visitors from all over the world every August. Its setting is to a great extent attributable to the masses of the castle rock and Arthur’s Seat. The Castle is built on a strategically very important location watching over movements to the east, west and south and keeping track on ships entering the Forth of Forth. Because of the abundance of hills around the city, it has often, in the past, been referred to as the “Athens of the north” but without the heat and pollution! If Edinburgh has an aroma it must be the sweet smell of brewing and whisky distilling as the waters around here appear to be ideal for these two essential activities.
Educationally, the city has three universities and a number of excellent private and state schools so the city seems to have everything going for it – but underneath Edinburgh does have its negatives. Poor housing in some of the large housing schemes and an over average drug problem. These problems, however, are being faced head on and Edinburgh is now more of a city of the people than ever before – no just for the elite.
The attractions of this ancient Burgh are enormous. Historic attractions such as the Castle (with its Honours of Scotland Exhibition, Great Hall, Royal Scots Regimental Museum, the National War Museum of Scotland), St Giles Cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral, Greyfriars Church, Tron Church, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Old Parliament House and the new Parliament at present located in the Mound, The National Library of Scotland, Calton Hill Monument, John Knox’s House, The High Street, Canongate, Scottish Whisky Heritage Centre, the National Trust for Scotland's Gladstone's Land, The Camera Obscura, Edinburgh Old Town Weaving Co. and Our Dynamic Earth near Holyrood as well as The Royal Yacht Britannia berthed in Leith. The arts feature strongly in the City with the new gallery at the National Trust for Scotland (Charlotte Square), The National Gallery of Scotland on Princes Street, the City Art Centre (Market Street), Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Queen Street), the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Belford Road) and the nearby Dean Gallery being the more established venues. There are, however, many other smaller galleries - Edinburgh is an exciting city for lovers of art especially during the Festival when every theatre and hall is requisitioned by theatre groups and other performing arts entertainers for the 3 week duration.
Notable museums include the Museum of Antiquities, Museum of Childhood, The Writer's Museum (in Lady Stair's 17th century house), The People's Story and Huntly House Museum and the Royal Yacht Britannia berthed in Leith. To see all of these – and the rest – plan to stay for a number of days!
There is no better way to experience the closes and wynds (the small lanes leading off the High Street) than taking part in one of the many Old Town guided walks. These range from literary pub tours, murder/mystery and historic tours to the very popular evening theme of ghosts and haunted Edinburgh. Most last up to 2 hours. There are also plenty of coach tours and car tours.
Back in the late ‘60s you would be lucky to find a pub or restaurant open after 10.30 pm. Today, however, Edinburgh’s culinary delights are available almost continually. The city now has some fine hotels, restaurants and cafes of numerous styles and eclectic atmospheres.
Shopping is second to none especially in the wide open spectacle of Princes Street but car parking facilities are unbelievably poor so be prepared to leave your car some distance away from the city centre and take the bus!
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