Edinburgh's Buildings

Edinburgh is a city with some outstanding architecture spanning many centuries. Below we list some of the more notable buildings and recount some of th events that took place therein.

  • Edinburgh Architectural Heritage

    The romantic beauty of Edinburgh today is not due to her varied site alone; it owes at least as much to the cliff-like masses of building with which her people have here masked, adding contrast to her strongly defined hills and valleys. The influence of the site has been dominant, however, in causing separation of the structures due to successive waves of expansion into fairly well defined localities, in accordance with the changing needs of defence, comfort, or industry... more »
  • Edinburgh Buildings

    The architectural history of Edinburgh began with the Castle, and here appropriately we find in the little Norman Chapel of St. Margaret the oldest surviving building... more »
  • Seventeenth Century Buildings in Edinburgh

    The art of the Renaissance made slow progress in Scotland owing to the long - drawn troubles of the Reformation period, but the opening of the seventeenth century marked a revival of building activity. The Union of Crowns brought about more peaceful relations with England; French influence declined, while contact with the Low Countries became closer... more »
  • Edinburgh Bridges

    By the mid 18th century, the Burgh had become dangerously overcrowded, with a population of some 60,000, and the citizens decided that, the '45 Rebellion having come and gone, it might be safe to dwell outside the walls and protecting valleys. They, therefore, initiated an age of bridge building, which was to affect profoundly the whole future of the city... more »
  • The Adam Brothers

    The earlier buildings in the New Town were somewhat commonplace, though beautifully decorated within. By the end of the century, however, a beginning was being made with Charlotte Square, one of the finest works of the Adam Brothers... more »
  • The Romantic Movement

    There remains the third great force which has affected the modern city. The fires of the Romantic movement, lit towards the end of the eighteenth century, were fanned to flame by the genius of Sir Walter Scott; while the contemporary and not unrelated interest in Greece led to enthusiastic attempts to revive the spirit of her ancient architecture... more »
  • Parliament House

    The building on the south side of Parliament Square, with its Italian façade and imposing Doric portico, is occupied by the Court of Session, the supreme judicature in Scotland. The great central hail, with its magnificent timber roof - the finest north of the Tweed - was the meeting-place of the Scottish Parliament from 1640 till the Union of 1707... more »
  • The Mercat Cross

    Immediately east of St. Giles' is the Mercat Cross, which, during several centuries, acquired associations that made it the centre, not only of civic but of national affairs... more »
  • The Royal Exchange

    Opposite the Mercat Cross, on the north side of High Street, is the Royal Exchange, in which, and in the flanking buildings, are housed the Town Council, and the municipal officials. Constructed in 1753-1761 at a cost of over £31,000, the Exchange, with its Italian facade, has in front a quadrangle, the south side of which consists of seven arches... more »
  • Moray House

    Moray House in the Canongate has a curious entrance guarded by obelisk-topped pillars and its substantial balcony. In this mansion, which has richly ornamented dome-shaped ceilings, Cromwell lived for a few days in 1648, and for nearly a year after the battle of Dunbar... more »
  • Huntly House

    Huntly House is a timber fronted building set amidst more modern tenements next to Moray House in the Canongate. It is very doubtful if it ever was the home of the "noble" family of Huntly but be that as it may, this structure is one of the most noted specimens of domestic architecture of the pre-Reformation period still remaining in the city... more »
  • Canongate Tolbooth

    The Canongate Tolbooth, with its projecting clock (opposite), dates from 1591. Note the inscription "Patriae et Posteris" over the arch... more »
  • Canongate Church

    Canongate Church was built in 1688 for the parishioners who had formerly worshipped in the nave of the Abbey of Holyrood. In the churchyard (to the left of the entrance) are buried George Drummond, six times Lord Provost of Edinburgh, founder of the Royal Infirmary and other institutions; Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations; Robert Fergusson, the poet, whose tombstone was erected by Burns; and Dugald Stewart, the philosopher, who has a classical monument on the Calton Hill... more »
  • The Castle and the Palace

    From time immemorial there have been fortifications on the Castle Rock. It is not, however, until 1004 that it is mentioned in history as a Royal residence, when it was so used by Malcolm II... more »
  • The Crown Square

    On the highest portion of the rock is the Crown Square, having the Palace buildings on the east side, the Banqueting Hall on the south, barracks on the west, and the Scottish National War Memorial on the north. In the palace block is the tiny room in which Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI... more »
  • Scottish National War Memorial

    The Scottish National War Memorial commemorates Scottish soldiers, and soldiers of Scottish regiments, who were killed in the two world wars and more recent conflicts. Rolls of honour record the names of the 100,000s of service men who have been killed in action... more »
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse

    The Palace of Holyroodhouse was a development of the Abbey founded by David I. in 1128; and since that date the building has been more or less continuously occupied... more »
  • The Banqueting Hall

    The Palace, when the Sovereign is not in residence, is open to visitors, who proceed by way of a staircase in the old wing to the Picture Gallery, or Banqueting Hall, in which hang portraits of the Scottish kings. These were painted by a Dutchman, De Witt, on contract for £120 per annum (a considerable sum of money at the time), and the whole were completed in two years... more »