The Capital of Scotland, and the literary capital of the English-speaking world, Edinburgh is a true inspiration. Its history can be traced back to the Bronze Age, and by the time the Romans arrived in Lothian at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD, the Celtic society here had developed one of the most advanced cultures of the area.
The Gododdin influence persisted for many years, till the 950s when the city finally fell to the Scots and remained under their jurisdiction. This is when the city, referred to at this time in the Pictish Chronicle as oppidum Eden got its Germanic suffix burgh, and by the beginning of the 12th century, Edinburgh was well established, and a power in the region. The Castell of Maidens called Edenbrough, founded upon the famous castle rock, was already standing 130 metres (430 ft) above sea level - a proud fortress, and the main source of power in the city.
A City of Literature and Arts
Edinburgh was blessed by a continuous economical and cultural growth through the Renaissance and beyond. To this day, the city is credited as one of the major centers of the Enlightenment - the elite cultural movement of intellectuals of the 18th century, back when the city was called the Athens of the North. Writers such as James Boswell, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Sir Walter Scott all lived and worked in Edinburgh. And the tradition goes on: J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, is a resident of Edinburgh; and many other writers, philosphs and artists are proud to call Edinburgh their home.
Because Edinburgh celebrates its rich cultural and historic legacy, with year-round festival that attract thousands of visitors, and maintain the city's reputation as one of the European cradles of arts and culture. Among these festivals, the Edinburgh Fringe is the largest performing arts festival in the world. The festival takes place for four weeks every August, making this month the ideal - yet the busiest - time of the year to visit the city.
Still So Much to See
But fear not: there's enough to see an do in Edinburgh to keep you busy for months. In 1995, the Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site - this accolade alone suffices to show why Edinburgh is such an attractive destination. Among its over 4500 listed buildings, visitors will enjoy several museums, libraries, and art galleries, including all Scotland's five National Galleries. Other buildings have been re-purposed to host hotels, restaurants, and shops - all as many symbols of Edinburgh's past as they are symbols of its prosperous present. And all fascinating.
The city keeps an active cultural life, with a continuous stream of events spanning all forms of performing and visual arts. With countless amateur theater companies, as well as world-famous professional institutions, Edinburgh is always staging the next play. Recently, PRS for Music listed Edinburgh amongst the UK's top ten 'most musical' cities - and that says enough about what you can expect here. There's classical music at the Usher Hall, while Murrayfield and Meadowbank host the occasional super star concerts and festivals. The Bongo Club is a local favorite, and if you don't like the crowds, there are still ways to enjoy music in a more intimate atmosphere, in clubs like Sneaky Pete's, Bannerman's and Forrest Cafe.
The city has a wealth of clubs, bars and restaurants - all authentic, and each with something unique on the menu. From meaty haggis to sophisticated culinary creations in Michelin starred restaurants, the restaurant scene in Edinburgh is as diverse, traditional and exciting as the city itself.
Dining and clubbing are two of the favorite tourist activities in Edinburgh, but the most popular remains touring the city. A historic destination like Edinburgh is prone to have some ghosts - hence some of the most interesting activities offered by day tour operators are the ghost tours. Most tours follow the cobbled labyrinth of the Old Town, with stops at haunted joints, legends of heinous crime, and scary stories told under candlelit underground vaults.
Last, but not least, shopping in Edinburgh may be a rewarding experience, despite the relatively high prices practiced everywhere around the city. Princes Street may be the main shopping street in Edinburgh, but it is crowded and touristy. More interesting Victoria Street has many hidden treasures, and Cockburn Street boasts excellent fashion boutiques and specialty shops selling music, novelty toys, underground clothing and spiritual items.
Main attractions: Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh Castle, Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, St Giles' Cathedral, Camera Obscura, Edinburgh Zoo, Scottish Parliament, Museum of Scotland, Royal Museum, Royal Yacht Britannia and many more.
Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
Official languages: Gaelic, English, Scots
Area: 259 km2 (100.00 sq mi)
- Voltage: 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts)
- Primary Socket Type: British BS-1363
- Multi-voltage appliances (laptops, etc.): Plug adapter
- 110-120V electronics: Plug adapter + step-down transformer
- Hair dryers, curling irons, etc.: Plug adapter + voltage converter
Other places to see & things to do: Ghost Tours, Royal Botanic Garden, Fruitmarket Gallery, Leith promenade, Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Hogmanay, etc.
Images courtesy, Wikipedia.
Vinivi advises you to rent a flat in Edinburgh with Wipikit Homes.