Evidence of habitation in the area reaches back to the Bronze Age. The city is in part named for the hill fort that was erected prior to the 7th century. "Burh" means fort in Old English. The earliest records of a town date to the 11th century, and by the 12th century the city was growing rapidly. In the early 1500s, the wide-ranging interests of King James IV, which included poetry and dentistry, led to a capital with a thriving cultural and intellectual life. The later part of the century, however, was bloody, marked by a civil war over succession that lasted five years. In the 1600s, the city suffered again during the Third English Civil War.
In 1707, Scotland and England were joined, and the Scottish Parliament dissolved. Despite the controversy of the unification, it heralded a new age for Edinburgh, which became the center of the Scottish Enlightenment, another burgeoning time for both science and the arts. During the Victorian era, Edinburgh remained less industrialized than many UK cities, but its reputation, as a center for the arts, has continued to flourish well into the present century. Politically, calls for independence from the United Kingdom have resulted in the return of a Scottish Parliament in 1999.
The city is set against Scotland's central lowlands in the southeastern part of the country. To its north lies the Firth of Forth, an estuary that leads into the North Sea, and to its southwest range the Pentland Hills. Its climate tends to be mild, which is in part due to its nearness to the sea.
Edinburgh has a population of nearly half a million. Geographically, it is divided into a central Old Town and New Town as well as a largely residential area to the south. Its port, Leith, was merged with the city nearly 100 years ago. In 1995, Edinburgh's Old and New Towns were together named as a World Heritage Site.
The city of Edinburgh, Scotland, is a place rife with history, tradition and cultural splendor that has existed for centuries. For tourists and natives alike, Edinburgh boasts an impressive collection of attractions that will keep people coming back time and time again.
Begin the ascent at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and continue up the Royal Mile en route to the formidable gates of Edinburgh Castle. Perched atop its craggy mount of volcanic rock for over two millennia, it boasts an awe-inspiring view of the city below. Nestled within its walls is the National War Museum, where visitors can remember the impact of the World Wars on Scotland's history, landscape and identity. Also inside Edinburgh Castle are the fabled Stone of Destiny and the Scottish Crown Jewels, while outside the One O'clock Gun marks the time every day at precisely 1 p. m.
Ghost Tours & the Edinburgh Dungeons
For haunted history buffs that don't scare easily, there are several companies throughout Edinburgh that offer nightly ghost tours around the city's Old Town, revealing its shady and unsavory past. Plus, for more frightful accounts of Scottish lore during the day, the Edinburgh Dungeons provide guests with a tactile trip back in time through the clan wars, pestilence, torture and the murderous rampage of Burke and Hare.
Greyfriar's House & Highland Kirk
In the old Scottish language, churches were called 'kirks', a term that still survives today. At Greyfriar's House, there is a modest-sized cemetery protected by a stone wall, featuring the names of prominent Edinburgh clans and families, with the Highland Kirk looming nearby. While impressive on their own, the story of an ever-faithful dog known as Greyfriar's Bobby has endeared this site into the hearts of millions. People can now also visit the adjoining pub, which was named after him.
The National Galleries of Scotland
Comprising of three individually stunning buildings, The National Gallery, The National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Portrait Gallery hold within their walls some of the finest collections from archaeologists, anthropologists, painters, sculptors and installation artists ever discovered. This is a stellar opportunity to see the works of Monet, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Raphael, Botticelli, Degas and countless other artists all in one city center.
A hill fort dating back nearly 2,000 years ago, Arthur's Seat is situated within Holyrood Park and is an internationally recognized site of grasslands, wildlife and volcanic geology. Visitors can choose to walk or drive the many pathways leading to its summit, enjoying stunning views along the way of Edinburgh's East side as well as looking out towards East Lothian and Leith.
Edinburgh is an easy city to tour since it is small. It can be toured quickly by walking, riding a bike, or using the city's bus system that travels over most of the city. The city is friendly for bike riders as the cyclists may use the green lanes of the buses in the center of the city. The city has a great number of bike routes that are free of traffic. Edinburgh is also easy to explore by walking. The city is constructed on several hills, but they are easily to take on. The city has many parks to visit.
Edinburgh has two primary bus systems. Lothian is operated by the city council, and First is a private company. The two systems use the same bus stops, but the tickets are different.
Lothian buses have a burgundy and cream color design. The routes are identified on the buses by designated colors on the roofs and fronts of the buses. Lothian sells single tickets for each ride, and new tickets must be purchased if travelers change buses. The bus drivers do not have change for these tickets.
However, Lothian also sells a comprehensive ticket for riding all day. This provides visitors a chance to view the city without the cost of a tour bus. These tickets do not include the airport express and night bus service.
The First Bus lines provide service to the east and western sections of Edinburgh.
Train routes run to the suburbs from the Waverly station. Most of these stations are in the southeast and southwest suburbs as well as a connection to Edinburgh Park near the Gyle shopping mall. The prices are the same as the National Rail fares. The cost for storing luggage at the Waverly train station is more than the lockers for storage at the bus station at St. Andrew's Square.
Edinburgh has choices in cabs, similar to most cities in Britain. The Black Cabs can transport five people and can be summoned on the street. These cabs have an orange light above the windshield to designate when the cab is available. These cabs are easily located at the center of the city and on main routes around the city. The taxi stands are around the city, including outside the entranced of the Waverly and Haymarket train stations, near the Sheraton Hotel, the Caledonian Hotels, the George Hotel and Crowne Plaza Hotel, in St. Patrick's Square and at Leigh Bridge. Minicabs have to be reserved ahead of time.
Shoppers who are visiting Edinburg, UK, and who are after high-end products made by designers such as Prada and Gucci will have a fantastic time shopping at Harvey Nichols. Filled with upper-scale clothing, jewelry, cologne, shoes, and authentic Scottish goods, Harvey Nichols' provides various retail goods for people who enjoy the finer things in life. Located on St. Andrew's Square, this store is one of the most recognized fashion houses in Edinburg.
The Royal Mile in Edinburg is perhaps the most famous shopping and tourist section of the city. Along the Royal Mile, world-famous shops are sprinkled in the midst of beautiful castles, historical landmarks, and renowned museums and city treasures. Items such as hand-made Scottish accessories, designer jewelry, and souvenirs are offered in a large assortment. Restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops are also in abundance along the Royal Mile to provide shoppers and sightseers with plenty of places to relax and rejuvenate.
Just beyond a large, historic castle in Edinburg is the shopping center known as Grassmarket. Grassmarket is the perfect place for people to shop who enjoy quaint village-type atmosphere and a representation of authentic Edinburg wares and goods. Crafted items such as beaded shoes and jewelry, farmer's markets, woven rugs, and hand-made clothing are available in this eclectic and village-influenced shopping district of Edinburg. Cafes and small bistros offer friendly service and delectable cuisine for shoppers who are interested in taking a break from retailing.
Beautiful scenery and historical buildings combined with unique retail stores are available in Edinburg on Princess Street. Princess Street is home to numerous individual shops and department stores and is also the location of Princess Mall in Edinburg. Princess Mall features some of the UK's most popular chain stores and provides a place for shopaholics to indulge in their favorite designer items.
George Street is an ideal shopping district in Edinburg for shoppers who enjoy high-end items that are hard to find. Rare books, designer dresses and suits, party supplies, and name brand furniture can be discovered along the winding road of George Street. This street also offers beautiful fountains, intimate restaurants, and lively pubs where shoppers can enjoy refreshment in between shopping sprees. George Street is located near Thistle Street and is home to more than one hundred unique and individual retail stores that provide a multitude of retail items for sale.
The city's Hogmanay celebrations are known throughout the world for being filled with revelry, joy and positive energy. The kick-off to the New Year is a three-day party attended by nearly 100,000 participants ready to enjoy live music, DJs and dancing that lasts until morning. The Concert in the Gardens is a festival highlight, and past performers have included Kasabian, Biffy Clyro, Groove Armada and Madness. The New Year is signaled by an extravagant fireworks show that explodes across the sky of Edinburgh.
Each year on January 25th, the people of Edinburgh celebrate the lief of Scotland's National bard, Robert Burns. Burns Night festivities are marked by traditional feats, rousing verse and festive entertainment, including concerts and dramatic performances. The day also marks the end of the city's Winter Festival, an annual event that includes parades, free museum tours, dances and celebrations of Scottish heritage.
On the last day of April each year, the Beltane Fire Festival kicks off the summer season with a spectacular procession of musicians, artists and dancers. The festival pays homage to an ancient fertility festival celebrated by the Celts through performances by the May Queen, the embodiment of strength, purity and the potential for growth. All the elements of nature, including fire, earth, water and air, come together through interactive exhibits in this unique celebration.
Each August, The Edinburgh Military Tattoo shows off Scotland's best military drummers, pipers, bands and dancers in one of the country's most iconic events. Over 200,000 spectators come to see the show, which also features military performers from around the world. Humorous routines, impressive lighting, lively dancing and fabulous fireworks accompany the magnificent performances.
At the close of summer each year, the city sponsors the Mela Festival, one of Europe's most important and largest multicultural events. The truly unforgettable experience is made through visual exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, film showings and live concerts. Visitors can sample cultures from around the world without ever leaving the city during this truly diverse gathering.
In November, locals celebrate the feast of Scotland's patron saint, St. Andrew. The fantastic range of events includes parades, free entrance to Edinburgh Castle, tours of the crown jewels and National War Memorial and traditional Scottish country dancing. Local bands play beloved tunes until the early morning and residents are always willing to teach tourists a few steps.
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