There are cities that are more than just bricks and mortar, cities built on ideals,…cities shaped by a belief that the human experiencecan be greater tomorrow than it is today. Edinburgh, is one of those places. Graced with over four and a half thousand heritage-listed buildings, the Scottish capital is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Edinburgh’s Old Town, with its Royal Mile, is filled with the ghosts of medieval merchants, body snatchers, and poets. While its Georgian-styled New Town, still shines with the glories of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Edinburgh is studded with lofty crags and spectacular gardens, and throughout the year, hosts parties and festivals like no other. To see Edinburgh in all her glory, walk, ride, or even climb to Arthur’s Seat, the highest of the city’s seven peaks. Some historians believe this peak was the site of King Arthur’s legendary castle Camelot, which is hardly surprising, as Edinburgh has been at the clashing crossroads of history for millennia. Nearby, on another volcanic crag, rise the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, the very symbol of Scotland itself.
Over the last eleven centuries, this castle has been laid siege to 26 times as opposing clans, kings and countries battled with broadsword and cannon. But still it stands, a testimony to the indomitable spirit of the Scots. Edinburgh has a special place in the hearts of today’s monarchy. The last of a long line of royal yachts, Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia sailed over one million miles before she was decommissionedin 1997.Today she is permanently moored at Ocean Terminal, a symbol the Royal Family’s affection for Scotland and the people of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh has been the jewel in the crown of chieftains and royals for centuries, but it’s also a place where old-world chivalry continues today. Beneath the crown spire of St Giles’ Cathedral, is Thistle Chapel, which honors the 16 living Knights and Ladies of Scotland’s oldest order, as well as those who came before. It’s not just the brave and chivalrous who are celebrated in Edinburgh, this is a city that has given the world some of its best-loved writers and stories. In Princes Street Gardens, rises the world’s largest monument to a writer, dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, who penned epics such as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. Near by, at the Writers Museum, learn more about Scott, and two more of Scotland’s most cherished literary adventurers, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Edinburgh continues to cast her spell over contemporary writers too. JK Rowling wrote the first two of her Harry Potter series in cozy Old Town nooks, such as the Elephant House Café. But history and literature aside, perhaps the greatest gifts that Edinburgh has given humankind is in the field of knowledge, which once earned the city the title, The Athens of The North. For over four centuries, the University of Edinburgh has given us intellectual giants such as Charles Darwin, David Hume and Alexander Bell. Explore centuries of innovation at the Scottish Museum, or head to South Queensferry to see the Forth Bridge, an engineering marvel when it opened in 1890,and one which still takes the breath away today.
Knowledge and beauty go hand in hand at the Royal Botanic Gardens too. Established in 1670,this is one of the world’s oldest and most important centers of botanical science, yet it’s a place which invites even the most harried heart to slow down and swoon. Beauty is honored at every turn in Edinburgh, whether it be the elegant interiors of the Georgian House,…the priceless treasures within the Scottish National Gallery,…or the simple flower boxes which adorn the city’s pubs. Edinburgh is a city that has given the world countless gifts, but perhaps her greatest is this: she shows us that all parts of the human experience the sciences and the arts, the past and the present, the sacred and the light-hearted all have equal value. And that when brought together, these things can create a beauty,…a state of mind,…a city,…like no other.