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A quiet village hidden inside a loud city

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Dean Bridge
Scottish Gallery of Modern Art
Water of Leith Walkway
The word "Dean" means "valley" - and sure enough, this village is in one. It was carved out by the Water of Leith, Edinburgh's main river. For around 8 centuries, this was the centre of the city's milling industry. It was the perfect location. There was plenty of space to build the mills, and a fast flowing stream to drive them. Usually, places with these qualities are isolated deep in the countryside, making it hard to find enough customers. Dean Village, on the other hand, is in the heart of Scotland's capital, so it didn't have to worry about that problem.
The mills stopped working long ago, but the feeling of success and prosperity still lingers in the air. This is an attractive place, full of pretty buildings and narrow walkways. Despite its popularity as a residential area, Dean Village hasn't lost its low-key atmosphere. The complete lack of shops and restaurants helps add to the sleepy, relaxed mood. The valley's slopes are filled with trees and plants, making it even harder to remember that this is just a few minutes walk away from the congested pavements of the city centre.

Buildings in the Dean Village
Photo chatirygirl
With a careful eye, you can catch clues to the village's past. Various inscriptions and plaques make reference to the old guilds and merchants. Some of the mill buildings have escaped destruction or refurbishment, and are still standing. One of these is directly underneath Dean Bridge, the local landmark. It was built in the 18th century to solve a major transportation issue. The problem was that, although the valley was very suitable for milling, its steep sides were a pain in the neck for travellers. The solution came in the form of a bridge. It was built by Thomas Telford, one of Britains most famous engineering architects. This spurred on the development of the area, helping to transform it into the popular residential suburb it is today. The crossing's grand arches and vast scale are still impressive, even after two centuries.

Dean Bridge
Photo kyz
Another of the village's well-known sights is its cemetery. It's the final resting place of some important figures from Scottish history, including architects, artists and war heroes.
There are some less morbid attractions at both the Dean Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Art. These two buildings are across the road from each other, just next door to the cemetery. Their exhibition space houses the best contemporary pieces by the artists of the last few decades. Outside, the surrounding parkland is scattered with odd, imaginative sculptures. Even the ground itself, with its distinctive curves, was shaped by an artist.

Dean Gallery
Photo Asiatic League
To see some greenery that's a little more natural, you can walk along the bank of the Water of Leith. The walkway runs for 20 kilometres altogether, passing by the modern art museums and through the centre of Dean Village. It's the perfect way to explore what is arguably the most laid-back part of the city.
Visitor Information
Dean Gallery is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Entry is FREE. Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DS. Tel: 0131 624 6200
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is open daily from 10am (2pm Sundays) to 5pm. Entry is FREE. Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DR. Tel: 0131 624 6200

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