Edinburgh is both mystical and sophisticated; a city of palaces, galleries and monuments as well as rich tradition, legends and dark tales.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the seat of the Scottish Parliament. Historically the town has always been of strategic importance; you have only to see the stern castle on its hilltop, gazing towards the sea, to understand why. Nowadays as much as ever, it is not just the administrative capital but also the gateway to Scotland. One of the UK’s great tourist destinations, Edinburgh is a stop-off for many tours. For those touring Scotland, it is an essential first port of call.
A large and sprawling modern city, Edinburgh nevertheless has a centre that is fairly compact (you can see most of it on foot), attractive and unspoilt. The Georgians in the eighteenth century did a fine job of clearing slums and redeveloping the so-called New Town, and their wide terraced streets are now an intrinsic part of Edinburgh’s charm.
Myths and Monuments
Can the Scottish Crown Jewels really have gone missing for centuries, until the author Sir Walter Scott launched a search that uncovered them exactly where they should have been all along? What on earth was the thinking behind Edinburgh’s own hilltop Acropolis? Travelling around the city with a guide, your brain will work overtime separating fact from fiction, myth from history, lunacy from genius (and Edinburgh produced many of these). You may simply decide it doesn’t matter, and sit back to enjoy the tales. Edinburgh’s stories are rich and varied, and if you enjoy delving into them you’ll certainly find yourself wanting to planning a return trip.
Edinburgh is a fascinating and popular destination all year round, but for many visitors, THE time to visit is during the August Festival and Fringe, when the city overflows with culture and entertainment. The Edinburgh International Festival is a fairly staid and highbrow event, with dance, music and theatre of seriously high quality. The Fringe is more like a cultural free-for-all, with hundreds of shows every day. If over-eager student drama isn’t your thing, there is plenty of top comedy from the country’s leading comedians, as well as some cutting-edge new productions. Your mission is to venture forth with a programme in your hand, seeking to separate the superb from the abysmal.
Hogmanay is the traditional Scottish celebration of New Year’s Eve. Nowadays Edinburgh is the UK’s party capital on this night, with crowds seeing in the New Year with mass choruses of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ . The town lays on a gigantic party in the streets along the Royal Mile, Princes Street and George Street. There are fireworks, music and theatre, pipe bands and millions of well-wishers.