Like Rome, Edinburgh is set on 7 hills and has been Scotland’s capital city since at least the 15th century and is home to Scotland’s Government, Parliament and Supreme Courts. It’s home to 495,360 people and lauded as the ‘Athens of the North’ however it is affectionately known by locals as “the toon” (the town) or historically “Auld Reekie”, so named because of the air pollution of the Middle Ages, when dense concentrations of homes were built within small areas and the smoke (reek) from these homes formed a thick, choking smog over the city.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, directly opposite the Scottish Parliament and adjacent to the spectacular extinct volcano which dominates Edinburgh’s eastern skyline, Arthur’s Seat, is the official residence of the Monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II and is closely associated with some of Scotland’s most well-known historic figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Another more famous extinct volcano can be found one mile into the city, one Royal Mile to be precise, and proudly adorning arguably the most famous and photographed castle in the world, Edinburgh Castle.
Overlooking the famed Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens and the city’s New Town, with its designer shopping, fine dining and nightlife, the Castle sits at the top of the Royal Mile, the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, with its centuries old architecture, cobbled streets and curiosities.
A cultural hotbed for centuries, Edinburgh is the home of the 18th and early 19th century Scottish Enlightenment, when rapid advancement in fields such as philosophy, political economy, engineering, architecture, medicine, geology, archaeology, law, agriculture, chemistry and sociology were made and transported far beyond the country, throughout Europe and across the Atlantic.
Edinburgh is also famed for its authors, many of whom, such as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louise Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and, more latterly, J.K. Rowling, entertained and informed countless millions throughout the world. It is little surprise that, today, Edinburgh is famed the world over for two of its cultural events, the month-long Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, and it’s Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) celebrations.
Edinburgh’s sporting tradition is Rugby, being the home of the Scotland National Team, whilst its football is keenly contested by the rivalry of Hearts and Hibs.
With a world famous zoo, galleries and museums aplenty, theatres, 4 of Scotland’s 9 Michelin star restaurants (second only to London in the UK for most Michelin star restaurants in a city), Harvey Nichols, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and more, a vibrant nightlife, stunning Botanic Gardens, the iconic Forth Bridges and more, Edinburgh has plenty to offer and with more attractions added every year, including forthcoming distilleries (the first in the city in over a century) is a distinctly cosmopolitan European capital city steeped in uniquely Scottish history.