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Edinburgh history and heritage


Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For the visitor it has much to offer: a rich heritage, magnificent architecture and beautiful picturesque scenery, with all the with all the modern city conveniences you might expect.

As the Capital of Scotland, it is intimately associated with the history of the country. Its closes and wynds, its famous personalities, the struggles and the feuds of which it has been the scene in successive ages, have been made familiar to the world in the imaginative writings of Scottish poets and romancers.

At the same time, it is a modern, vibrant city. No finer shops are to be seen anywhere than those on its principal shopping areas. It is notable for the purity of its air and its bracing climate.

Its variety is extraordinary. From the street claimed by its citizens as the finest in the world - offering a promenade close on a mile long - the visitor is confronted on the one hand by handsome modern business premises; turning his gaze southwards, he is at once linked up with the romantic past.

The Castle, on its majestic rock, is the same fortress, which has seen some of the most stirring events in Scottish history.

The ridge which slopes down from the Castle Esplanade carries the high tenements which once were one of the wonders of the world in city architecture, within whose very walls some centuries ago the Scottish nobility had their homes.

There is no sense of incongruity in the mingling in Edinburgh of the modern and ancient. The city has evolved by a gradual process, and has never lost its character. There is a subtle harmony in the form and colouring of its architecture, blending new and old.

Historically a city of culture and education, of art and letters, of law and finance, Edinburgh keeps its footing in the modern world of business and technology.

But its industries form part of a well-balanced unity. On its northern boundaries, where it touches the Firth of Forth, the old world fishing harbour of Newhaven separates the ports of Granton and Leith.

Throughout the 20th Century, the extension of the boundaries of the city brought within its area outlying districts to the south and west, with their numerous industrial and residential villages. These now form part of the city and are linked up by efficient transport services.

Edinburgh furnishes a notable example of the dovetailing of city and country. The suburbs have been steadily reaching out into the country along the principal road network, leaving ample areas of green fields, woodlands, and hills partly enclosed between the advancing lines of town architecture.

The modern city, on the other hand, has presented in a striking and refreshing manner a realisation of the phrase rus in urbe. Edinburgh's numerous parks, whose green spaces, the invigorating city lungs, offer a great variety of pleasant places of resort and recreation.

More on Edinburgh history and heritage

A brief history of Edinburgh

History of Edinburgh's streets and areas

Edinburgh's hills

Edinburgh's most notable buildings