Pocket Britain

The capital city of Scotland and one of the most trendy and popular European cities

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Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and the country's 2nd largest urban settlement. The city is famous for its Castle Rock (a large rocky outcrop with adorning castle), its numerous festivals and its fun spirited inhabitants. In addition, the surrounding countryside of the 'Lothians' offers spectacular scenery- the perfect contrast to the buzz of this great city. Edinburgh has rapidly established itself as one of the most trendy and popular European cities and is visited by over a million people a year.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Photo xlibber
Edinburgh has been the capital of this northern nation since 1437. Located in the south east of the country, it lies along the Firth of Forth near the North Sea and on the east coast of the Central Belt. Edinburgh is a historic city, with the first signs of settlement stretching as far back at the Iron Age. Edwin of Northumbria built the first fort on the city's famous rock in the 7th century and a settlement soon developed. Since then, the city has been the centre of many struggles between England and Scotland, survived the Jacobean revolution and lost out to Glasgow as the nation's industrial capital. The city does however, retain its crown as the cultural and intellectual centre of Scotland. The University of Edinburgh was founded in 1582 and soon became a global centre for education, resulting in the city being nicknamed 'The Athens of the North'. Edinburgh and in particular the university played a central part in the enlightenment era of the 17th and 18th centuries. To this day, it still retains the title of Scotland's cultural and intellectual hot spot.

The National Library of Scotland
Photo Berto Garcia
The landscape of Edinburgh is also inspiring. A short distance away from the castle is another iconic rocky hill known as 'Arthur's Seat'. This is a craggy outcrop, the result of glacial and volcanic activity. The medieval and Georgian architecture of the city sits in stark contrast to this earthly protrusion, man made decorations adorning nature's art. The castle and surrounding fortress are the epicentre of the city and rise majestically above the urban sprawl. The beautiful and historic buildings, ancient bridges and Georgian crescents all add to the sensation of being lost in a wonderful land of times gone by. In 1995 the city's history and beauty was rewarded with the predominantly medieval old town and the more Georgian new town together being established as a UNESCO world heritage site; a truly fitting accolade.

Arthur's Seat from the castle
Photo blondyimp
Furthermore, Edinburgh has a modern, edgy twist that matches its historic significance. A spate of fantastic restaurants, trendy bars and energetic clubs result in the city boasting nightlife to match that of any in the world. The city is also famous for its plethora of year round festivals. The most well know is the annual Edinburgh Festival, a collection of independent and official festivals held over the month of August. Just under half a million people visit the city to attend the Festival; which includes the Edinburgh Fringe (the world's largest performing arts festival), the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the hilarious Edinburgh Comedy Festival. Many of the world's most famous performers and comics first ply their trade at these festivals and a visit to Edinburgh in August is well worth the effort. Other notable festivities include the celebration of Burns Night, Scotland's most unique party on the 25th January and the world famous Hogmanay New Years celebrations. There are few better ways to bring in the New Year than in Edinburgh and the city boasts one of the most respected and well attended celebrations in the world.

A performance at the Festival
Photo Hugh Simmons
Other key sites to visit include the Nelson Monument, honouring Admiral Lord Nelson of Battle of Trafalgar fame, and the Scottish Parliament. There is the Queen's official Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, once home to Mary Queen of Scots, the world famous Edinburgh Zoo and the fantastic National Gallery, housing one of the best collections in Europe as well as the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. This is located in the heart of the New Town and houses numerous portraits of Scotland's most influential citizens. Near the castle is the fascinating Camera Obscurer which marries old and new optical technology with its fascinating exhibits for all the family.

The view over Holyrood Palace
Photo alh1
Edinburgh has fast become one of THE places to go for a European City break and has developed an international reputation for culture and art. The spectacular Castle, the never ending intrigue of the Royal Mile and the beauty of the surrounding countryside, means Edinburgh has everything on offer. It's not all art and hills though; to boot the city most certainly knows how to entertain and annually offers some of the globes most extravagant parties.

Vintage Bus Tours along the Royal Mile
Photo Ingy The Wingy
Come to Edinburgh, soak up the culture, try some haggis with a shot of fine whisky and simply have a great, great, time!
Visitor Information
Edinburgh Castle is open daily from 9:30am to 5pm (6pm in Summer). Entry costs around £12 for adults, £6.50 children. Castle Hill, Edinburgh EH9 1SH. Tel: 0131 225 9846
The Edinburgh Camera Obscura is open daily from 10am to 5pm (with seasonal extensions). Entry costs around £9:50 for adults, £6.50 for children. 549 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND. Tel: 0131 226 3709
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is open daily from 9:30am to 6pm (4:30pm in Winter). Entry costs around £11 for adults, £7 children. Canongate, The Royal Mile EH8 8DX. Tel: 0131 556 5100
The National Galleries Complex is open daily from 10am to 5pm (7pm Thursdays). Entry is FREE. The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL. Tel: 0131 624 6200
Edinburgh Zoo is open daily from 9am to 6pm (earlier in Winter). Entry costs around £16 for adults, £11 children. Edinburgh EH12 6TS. Tel: 0131 334 9171

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