18 August 2019

Historic Edinburgh, 12-18 April 2019

While dedicated posts covering Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a Firth of Forth boat tour, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Royal Yacht Britannia are featured elsewhere on MoMI or its affiliated blog, the Virtual Museum of Maritime History, this page covers a number of sights (and sites) around Edinburgh during a visit from 12 to 18 April 2019.

Approaching Edinburgh International Airport on British Airways flight BA 1454, 12 April 2019.

Old Town Edinburgh

The oldest part of the city of Edinburgh is the medieval Old Town, the hallmark of which is Edinburgh Castle, sitting high atop the extinct volcano of Castle Rock. Sloping down from west to east between the castle and Holyrood Palace is the 'Royal Mile', now dominated by restaurants and shops selling souvenirs and Scottish woollen goods. The earliest settlements in Edinburgh began on the volcanic crag occupied by the castle, with the city gradually expanding down the tail of glacial debris left behind by retreating glaciers during the last ice age. With access to the city restricted by various gates in the city walls, Edinburgh's security was also enhanced by natural marshland to the south and a man-made lake to the north. The narrowness of the tail of glacial debris and the benefits of living within the city walls led to the development of some of Europe's first 'high-rise' residential buildings, with Old Town residents becoming increasingly cramped in overcrowded, unsanitary tenements. Although many of these tenements were destroyed in the massive Edinburgh fire of 1824, the reconstruction of the buildings on the original foundations resulted in numerous changes to the ground level and the creation of a large number of passages and vaults under the Old Town. Today, the Old Town is the most popular tourist district in Edinburgh and also plays host to the annual Edinburgh International Festival. Edinburgh's Old Town and its 18th century New town to the north collectively comprise a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.   

A view of The Mound district of Old Town Edinburgh, as seen looking south from Princes Street in the New Town. The green copper-domed, Baroque revival Bank of Scotland Head Office building can be seen on the left, with the spire of the former Victoria Hall (once housing the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and today a performance venue called The Hub), and the towers of the University of Edinburgh's New College, dating from 1846.  

Looking South towards Old Town from the North Bridge roadway crossing over Edinburgh's Waverley Station between Princes Street and the Royal Mile. On the right is the Scotsman Hotel, established in 2001 in the Edwardian building formerly housing the offices of The Scotsman newspaper.

The Inn on the Mile boutique hotel, located at the intersection of South Bridge and High Street. The building, built in 1923, once housed the Royal Mile branch of the British Linen Bank, established in 1813. It features several Greek Revival features, notably the Doric portico, Greek key cornice, and copper anthemion-style ornamentation.

The Tron Kirk, a former principal parish church located at the intersection of South Bridge and the Royal Mile.  Built at the direction of Scotland's King Charles I between 1636 and 1647, the Tron Kirk incorporates Palladian and Gothic elements inspired by contemporary Dutch architecture.  Two side aisles were removed in 1785 to make room for South Bridge and Blair Street and a new spire was erected in 1828 to replace the original one, destroyed in the Great Edinburgh Fire of November 1824.  Closed in 1952, Tron Kirk was allowed to decay for many years before being acquired by the City of Edinburgh Council and used as a tourist information centre.  Today, Tron Kirk is used as a performance venue during the annual Edinburgh International Festival, the world's largest arts festival, and also houses John Kay's Shop, a store selling Scottish gifts, books, and historic prints and maps.

The Hub, a public arts and events building at the intersection of Castlehill, Johnstone Terrace, and Lawnmarket on the Royal Mile.  Built between 1842 and 1845 as a meeting hall for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and named Victoria Hall, the Gothic Revival-style building's octagonal spire is the highest point in central Edinburgh.  From 1929 to 1979, the building served as a church, being renamed Highland Tolbooth St John's Church in 1956.  After sitting unused between 1979 and 1999, the building was redeveloped into office and performance spaces for the Edinburgh International Festival, being renamed The Hub and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.  It houses The Hub cafe, a central box office for the Edinburgh International Festival, information centre, a 420-seat performance space, and two smaller event spaces.      

New College of the University of Edinburgh.

The spire of the former Victoria Hall/Highland Tolbooth St John's Church is framed by the gothic architecture of New College, as seen from its quadrangle.   

A statue of John Knox (1514-1572), unveiled in 1896, stands in the quadrangle of the University of Edinburgh's New College.  Knox was a Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland in the 1560s and the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  

St Giles' Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, located on High Street in the Royal Mile. Although a church has stood on this site since 854 AD, the present church building dates from 1385 following a major fire the destroyed its predecessor. Major restoration work on St Giles' was undertaken between 1829 and 1833 and again between 1870 and 1883. St Giles' is dedicated to Saint Giles, the patron saint of Edinburgh and of cripples and lepers, and features a distinctive 'crown steeple'. In the square in front of St Giles' stands a statue of Walter Francis Montagu Douglas Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry (1806-1884), a Scottish nobleman and politician who served as Lord Privy Seal under Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel between 2 February 1842 and 21 January 1846.

The main entrance to St Giles' Cathedral, showing some of the intricate and ornate masonry.

Looking down one of the more than 70 narrow passages, or closes, leading off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's Old Town. Whereas these were dank, dark, and unhygienic in the 12th century, today they provide shortcuts to offices and residences, and many contain pleasant courtyards. 

The intersection of Lawnmarket and Bank Street, along the Royal Mile. The building in the centre is Parliament House, one of the buildings collectively containing the High Court of Justiciary and Court of Session, which are together known as the Supreme Courts of Scotland. The copper-domed former Bank of Scotland building (now housing the Museum on the Mound) can be seen in the background.

Deacon Brodies Tavern, at the corner of Lawnmarket and Bank Street. Housed in a preserved Old Town tenement building, the pub is named after Deacon Brodie, a deacon of the Guild of Wrights (a union of skilled carpenters) and a member of town council, who indulged in gambling and drinking at night, resorting to burglary to pay off his debts. Brodie was hanged in 1788, but served as an inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Old Town Edinburgh by night: seen here is Cannonball Restaurant & Bar, located on the Royal Mile, right next to the Esplanade in front of Edinburgh Castle. The building, Cannonball House, was named from the cannonball lodged high on the wall facing Edinburgh Castle and likely to have been placed there by engineers to mark the gravitational height for the first piped water supply to Castlehill Reservoir across the road.

Another view of the building housing Cannonball Restaurant & Bar. The first recorded building on this site was a residence constructed in the 1650s by the 1st Duke of Gordon, keeper of Edinburgh Castle. In the 18th century, it was converted into a tenement following a major fire. After decaying over the course of the 19th century, the building was torn down and rebuilt at Castle Hill Primary School in 1905. The only surviving feature of the original 1650s building is the door with what is believed to be the oldest door knocker in the world. 

Calton Hill

Located at the eastern end of central Edinburgh is Calton Hill, one of the 350 million year old volcanic hills shaped by various ice ages commencing 2.5 million years ago. Possibly occupied by Bronze Age people 4,000 years ago, by the 1400s Calton Hill hosted medieval festivities and in the 1600s public executions were conducted here. After petitioning by philosopher David Hume, the Edinburgh Town Council purchased Calton Hill in 1724 as one of Britain's earliest public parks. Interestingly, in 1839, the town council reserved part of Calton Hill for bleaching clothes, with the garments being soaked in chlorine solution and laid out in the sun to dry.

A brass cannon cast in the 15th century. The cannon has the Royal coat of arms of Spain on its barrel and was transported to the Portuguese colonies of southeast Asia at some point prior to 1785. After being captured or purchased by the King of Arakan, ruler of lands on the west coast of Burma, the cannon was captured as a prize by British forces during their invasion of Burma in 1885. Presented to Edinburgh in 1886, the cannon was placed on Calton Hill in 1887. Originally one of six cannons to be sited atop Calton Hill, the other five were melted down in 1940 to provide badly-needed metal for the war effort.

The Dugald Stewart Monument, designed by architect William Henry Playfair and built in 1831. The Edinburgh-born Stewart was a writer, philosopher, and leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. The monument is modelled after the ancient Greek Monument of Lysicrates in Athens.

Some of the structures on Calton Hill, as seen from the grounds of the City Observatory. The design of these buildings reflects the Classical architecture popular during the 'Scottish Enlightenment' between the 1750s and the 1820s, a period of literary, artistic, and scientific advances.

Modelled on a Greek temple, the Playfair Building of the City Observatory on Calton Hill was named after the building's designer, William Henry Playfair and built between 1818 and 1822. the building houses a 6-inch refracting telescope in its dome and a 6.4-inch transit telescope in its eastern wing. After being operated by the Edinburgh Astronomical Society between 1924 and 2009, the site reverted back the City of Edinburgh, which worked with arts development organisation Collective to execute a multi-million pound renovation of the buildings into a contemporary art centre and restaurant.

Overlooking Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle at the southwest corner of the City Observatory is the Gothic Tower, also known as Observatory House or James Craig House (after its designer). Originally to have been one of four such towers at the corners of the observatory complex, money ran out and only this one tower was completed. The Gothic Tower is the oldest part of the City Observatory, being completed in 1776, and housed the popular observatory operated by the Edinburgh Astronomical Institution from 1812.

The Greek neo-classical style National Monument, designed by CR Cockerell and William H Playfair, was built between 1822 and 1829 to commemorate Scottish soldiers killed during the Napoleonic Wars of 1803-1815. The foundation stone of the monument was dedicated in a ceremony by King George IV during his visit to Edinburgh in 1822. Based on the Parthenon in Athens, the monument reflected Scottish Enlightenment grandeur by the end of the 18th century; however, when funding ran out in 1829, work on the monument stopped, never to resume. The neo-classical buildings on Calton Hill, including the National Monument, inspired Edinburgh's nickname as 'The Athens of the North'.

The Nelson Monument, designed by architect Robert Burn and built between 1807 and 1816. Towering over 30 metres in height, the monument commemorates Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, who died in battle at the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805. Resembling an upended telescope, the monument is topped by a mechanised time-ball, installed in 1850, which is synchronised with the one o'clock gun fired daily from Edinburgh Castle. The ball-drop could be seen from ships moored in Leith Harbour, allowing their captains to maintain accurate time. On 21 October every year, naval flags are flown from the Nelson Monument, spelling out Nelson's famous order, 'England expects every man to do his duty'.

Looking south over Edinburgh. St Andrew's House, the Art Deco-styled main administrative offices of the Scottish Government can be seen fronting onto the A1 (Regent Road) below Calton Hill.

An eastward view of downtown Edinburgh, with the buildings of Princes Street in the New Town in the foreground and Edinburgh Castle sitting atop the Castle Rock in the Old Town visible beyond.

Looking southeast at the hills and crags of Holyrood Park. Arthur's Seat is the highest point seen in the centre of the photo.

Looking north, over the suburb of Leith and toward the Firth of Forth.

On the southwestern slope of Calton Hill is the Old Calton Hill Burial Ground, opened in 1718 and operated by the City of Edinburgh Council. The graveyard, including its screen walls and monuments, is listed as a category A listed historic building. The tall obelisk is the Political Martyr's Monument, dedicated to five political reform and universal suffrage campaigners of the group The Friends of the People, who were convicted of sedition and deported to Botany Bay, Australia in 1793.

Some of the graves in the Old Calton Hill Burial Ground, a non-denominational cemetery not affiliated with any church and managed by the Society of the Trades of Calton until 1888. Burials in this small graveyard ceased in 1869.

The grave of historian and philosopher David Hume (7 May 1711-25 August 1776), modelled on a Roman tomb.

Looking toward Calton Hill from the Old Calton Hill Burial Ground in the late afternoon of 13 April 2019. The headstones here mark the graves of a number of local tradesmen, as well as several notable Scottish figures, including painter David Allan (1744-1796), Victoria Cross recipient John McDougall (1840-1869), distiller John Haig, clergyman Dr Robert Candlish (1806-1873), Architect Thomas Hamilton (1784-1858), publisher and magistrate William Blackwood (1776-1834), architect Robert Burn (1752-1815), and scientist and mathematician Professor John Playfair (1748-1819).

Edinburgh Waverley Station

Edinburgh's Waverley Station is named after the Waverley novels by Scottish writer and historian Sir Walter Scott. It is the second busiest station in Scotland after Glasgow Central and serves as the northern terminus for the East Coast Main Line connecting London and Edinburgh, a distance of 632.7 kilometres from London's King's Cross Station. Built in the steep, narrow valley between Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town, Waverley Station is spanned by the North Bridge which crosses over the central section of the station. The current Victorian-era station was built in the 1860s and replaced three separate stations on this site which had been operated by competing railways from 1846 until their acquisition by the North British Railway. A legal covenant prevents the upward expansion of Waverley Station in any way that would block the view of Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park from Princes Street. The station is owned and operated by Network Rail, an arm's length public body of the UK Department for Transport. Rail services to and from Waverley Station are primarily provided by Abellio ScotRail, the Dutch-owned national train operating company of Scotland.

Looking down at the main gates and retail concourse of Waverley Station from a raised walkway through the station.

Travellers watch the electronic boards in Waverley Station's concourse for information on the status of their trains and platform assignments, 13 April 2019.

The Flying Scotsman at Waverley Station's Platform 2. This express passenger service connecting Edinburgh and London has operated since 1862, though The Flying Scotsman name was only adopted in 1924. The daily service is currently operated by the government-owned London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and covers the 632.7 kilometre (392 mile) distance between Edinburgh and London in four hours and at speeds up to 201 km/h (125 mph).

In April 2019, The Flying Scotsman consisted of the 91 class locomotive 91101 pulling an InterCity 225 Mallard train set, comprising nine Mark 4 coaches and the Driving Van Trailer 82205. As of 1 August 2019, the 91 class locomotive has been replaced by the London North Eastern Railway's new 'Azuma' units of Class 800/801 locomotives. The new Azuma locomotives are expected to cut The Flying Scotsman's travel time between Edinburgh and London to four hours by the end of 2021.

A Class 385 electric locomotive (left) and a Class 156 Super Sprinter diesel locomotive (right) sit at exterior platforms at the far west end of Waverley Station. Waverely Bridge crosses over the station in the background.

ScotRail Class 170 Turbostar diesel locomotive 170425 and train set sit at Platform 20 inside Waverley Station.

A middle-aged railfan chats with the train driver aboard The Royal Scotsman's locomotive 66743, a Class 66 locomotive painted in Belmond Royal Scotsman maroon livery. GB Railfreight provides the locomotives for this overnight luxury train through the Scottish Highlands managed by leisure and hotel operator Belmond Ltd. The service was inaugurated by the Great Scottish and Western Railway Company in 1985 and offers 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 night excursions.

A piper plays as The Royal Scotsman departs Edinburgh Waverley Station on 15 April 2019. The train's elegant, mahogany-clad cars are Pullman carriages built in 1960 by Metropolitan Cammell for the East Coast Main Line. The Royal Scotsman measures 206 metres (675 feet) long, excluding the locomotive, and accommodates a mere 36 passengers and 12 staff. The train consists of 10 carriages, comprising five sleeper cars, two dining cars, an observation lounge car, a spa car, and a service car.

Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens, located between Edinburgh's New Town and Old Town, were created in two phases from 1816. The gardens occupy what was once an artificial lake created by Scottish King James III in 1460 to strengthen the northern defences of Edinburgh Castle. Known as the Nor' Loch, this lake was used to dunk criminals and witches, with the latter then being conveyed to the Castle to be burned at the stake. By 1722, the Nor' Loch was heavily polluted by raw sewage and posed a public health risk. With the decision to establish Edinburgh's Georgian-style New Town, the drainage of the lake was commenced in 1750. The east gardens were completed in their present form in the 1840s as public gardens, with the western gardens being opened to the public in 1876. The eastern and western sections of Princes Street Gardens are separated by The Mound, an artificial land bridge between the Old Town and the New Town created by dumping over 1.5 million cartloads of earth excavated during the construction of the New Town. The east gardens comprise 8 acres between The Mound and Waverley Bridge, whereas the larger west gardens cover 29 acres between The Mound and two churches on Lothian Road. The Princes Street Gardens contain a number of statues to notable Scotsmen, including explorer David Livingstone, poet Allan Ramsay, and obstetric pioneer James Young Simpson.

The Scott Monument, dedicated to renowned Scottish historian and writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). For a fee, visitors may climb the 288 steps up the neo-Gothic monument's spiral staircases to catch breath-taking views of Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle.

Standing 61.11 metres (200 feet six inches) high, the Scott Monument is the world's second largest monument dedicated to a writer. Crafted from Binny sandstone quarried near Ecclesmachan in the Scottish county of West Lothian, the Scott Monument features sculptures of 68 characters from Scott's novels. The foundation stone was laid on 15 August 1840, with the monument being completed in the autumn of 1844.

At the centre of the Scott Monument, within the space formed by the four stone columns, sits the white Carrara marble statue of Sir Walter Scott, quill pen in hand and with his dog Maida by his side. The statue was sculpted by John Steell. The Scott Monument, administered by the Culture and Sport division of the City of Edinburgh Council, has been illuminated by LED lighting since 21 September 2016.

Looking west, along one of the footpaths through Princes Street Gardens. Edinburgh Castle, sitting atop Castle Rock, can be seen in the distance in the centre of the photo.

Laid out in the steep valley that was once filled with noxious, heavily-polluted water prior to 1750, Princes Street Gardens sits below Princes Street and offers lush lawns, flower beds, and numerous trees.

Looking south across Princes Street Gardens towards Edinburgh's Old Town. Named after William Henry Ross, the chairman of the Distillers Company Ltd, who gifted the first bandstand on this site in 1877, the Ross Band Stand was completed in June 1935. The first regular performances at this bandstand were given by the First Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders.

A quiet spring morning at Princes Street Gardens, 13 April 2019.

The Ross Fountain at the western end of the Princes Street Gardens. Manufactured at a foundry in Sommevoire, France and exhibited at the Great London Exposition of 1862, the fountain was purchased by gunmaker Daniel Ross for £2,000 and gifted to the city of Edinburgh. Shipped to the port of Leith in 122 pieces in 1869, the fountain was installed in the gardens in 1872.

The Ross Fountain, with Edinburgh Castle sitting high atop Castle Rock in the background.

Castle Rock dominates the view from the west end of Princes Street Gardens.

Late afternoon in Princes Street Gardens, 17 April 2019.

A monument to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of The Royal Scots Greys Regiment who gave their lives in the Boer War, 1899-1902 and the Second World War, 1939-1945. This monument is located at the northern edge of Princes Street Gardens, near the intersection of Princes Street and Frederick Street.

A bronze sculpture of a Polish soldier and Wojtek the bear by sculptor Alan Heriot. Soldiers of Polish II Corps, withdrawing from the Soviet Union through Iran under British command in 1941, purchased a Syrian brown bear cub at the railway station in Hamadan. The bear was named Wojtek and grew up amongst the Polish soldiers, developing a taste for beer and cigarettes. To provide food for Wojtek, the Polish soldiers enlisted him as a Private in the Polish Army, thereby ensuring the bear his own pay and rations book. Undaunted by the sound of gunfire, Wojtek helped carry ammunition to Polish soldiers during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. After the war, Wojtek lived at the Edinburgh Zoo until his death in 1963.

The Royal Scots Monument at the east end of the West Gardens section of Princes Street Gardens. Designed by Sir Frank Mears and constructed in 1952, the monument was described as a 'modern henge'. It was unveiled by Her Royal Highness Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Scots Regiment, in July 1952. With the disbandment of The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) on 28 March 2006, the monument was finalised on 9 May 2007 through the addition of Battle Honours won by the regiment since 1952. These final additions were unveiled in a ceremony by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment from 1983 to 2006.

Another view of The Royal Scots Monument.

The Gardener's Cottage, adjacent to The Royal Scots Monument at the east end of the West Gardens section of Princes Street Gardens. Part of The Mound can be seen behind and above the cottage.

New Town Edinburgh

The genesis of Edinburgh's New Town lies in the overcrowding and public health concerns of the medieval Old Town by the second half of the 18th century. With the dank, unhealthy conditions of the Old Town reflecting poorly on the city during a period of intellectual, artistic, and scientific advances (the Scottish Enlightenment) and wealthier citizens threatening to move to London, a competition was held to select a design for a new urban district to the north of the Old Town. The winner of that competition in March 1766 was 22-year old architect James Craig. Craig's design was based on two large garden squares, Charlotte Square and St Andrew's Square, as well as three parallel principal east-west streets (Princes, George, and Queen Streets) and three north-south cross streets (Castle, Frederick, and Hanover Streets). The New Town is characterised by the ordered geometrical forms of its Georgian buildings, as well as its terraces, circuses, and squares. Built in three separate phases to different designs by different planners, New Town expanded north, east, and west over the century after work on the first phase began in 1767. The first phase was largely completed by 1820, while the second phase (Second New Town) was launched in 1801-1802 with a northwards expansion of New Town from Queen Street toward the Water of Leith river. This expansion echoed Craig's plan by anchoring the area between two circus junctions (Drummond Place and Royal Circus) with a principal east-west axis named Great King Street. From 1800 to 1836, New Town also expanded westward, leading to the creation of Edinburgh's West End. The third and final stage of New Town's development was to the northeast of Calton Hill. Designed by architect William Henry Playfair, this plan was originally supposed to extent to the port of Leith; however, it was never completed. Between 1813 and 1860, Regent, Carlton, and Royal Terraces were established as the most elegant streets of the third phase. Today, Princes Street is the main commercial thoroughfare in New Town, hosting numerous chain stores, while George Street, formerly the city's financial centre, is now home to bars and restaurants, many housed in former banks.

Located on Regent Road in the east end of New Town and south of Calton Hill is St Andrew's House, the headquarters of the Scottish Government. Opened on 4 September 1939, St Andrew's House was designed by architect Thomas Tait in the Art Deco style and features porthole windows, Art Deco staircases, leather-filled conference rooms with mechanical dividers, and walnut panelling in the former Secretary of State's offices allegedly from a tree planted by Mary Queen of Scots. The site occupied by St Andrew's House once housed the notoriously 'cold, silent and repellent' Calton Jail, where prisoners were executed by hanging; the jail was demolished in 1930.

The bronze doors of the impressive Art Deco entrance to St Andrew's House. The steel-framed, stone-clad symmetrical building was built into a hillside and intended by the architect 'to grow out of the landscape and appear part of it'.

Register House, the home of the National Records of Scotland, located on Princes Street at North Bridge, across from the Balmoral Hotel. Designed by Scottish neo-classical architect and interior designer Robert Adam, Register House opened to the public in 1788. An equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington sits in front of Register House.

Commercial offices now occupy an impressive Georgian building on the southeast corner of Princes Street and North Bridge in Edinburgh's New town.

The Balmoral Hotel, formerly known as the North British Station Hotel and opened by the North British Railway in on 15 October 1902. It is one of the most luxurious and expensive hotels in Edinburgh, providing its guests with stunning views over the city. Located at the corner of Princes Street and North Bridge on a site formerly occupied by the railway's coach works, the hotel was designed in the Victorian style with Scottish baronial influences. It previously featured direct access to Waverley Station for the convenience of rail passengers, with red-coated porters available to bring guests and their baggage directly into the hotel via elevator. The hotel was sold by British Rail to The Gleneagles Hotel Company in 1983 and, in 1988, closed for an extensive, £23 million remodelling. Bought by Balmoral International Hotels in 1990, the re-named Balmoral Hotel was re-opened on 12 June 1991 in a ceremony presided over by Sir Sean Connery. Of note, since the hotel's opening in 1902, the clock on its 58 metre (190 foot) tall tower has been set three minutes fast to ensure passengers don't miss their trains; the only day the clock is set to the correct time is 31 December, for New Year's celebrations.

Jenners Department Store, Scotland's oldest independent department store until its acquisition by British chain House of Fraser in 2005. Jenners has maintained a presence on Princes Street since 1838, though the present store was completed in 1895 following the destruction of the original premises by fire in 1892. The current store featured several modern amenities when it opened, such as hydraulic elevators and electric lighting. Jenners has held a Royal Warrant to supply the Royal Family since 1911 and is known as the 'Harrods of the North'. It has retained the Jenners name despite the acquisition by House of Fraser.

St Andrew Square, located at the east end of George Street.  Laid out in 1772 as the first part of James Craig's New Town plan, St Andrew Square became one of Edinburgh's most upscale residential neighbourhoods within six years of its completion; however, by the end of the 1800s, this area had been transformed into the commercial centre of the city.  Although banks and insurance company offices used to dominate the area around St Andrew Square, today it hosts retail shops, a hotel, and a variety of chain restaurants.  At the centre of St Andrew Square sits the Melville Monument, with a statue of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, sitting atop the tall stone column. The St Andrew Square gardens are privately owned but opened to the public in 2008.  The east side of St Andrew Square is dominated by Dundas House, a Neoclassical, Palladian-style mansion completed in January 1774 for Sir Lawrence Dundas, 1st Baronet, a Scottish businessman, landowner, and politician.  This impressive house was later sold to the government as an excise house 1795 and 1825, and then became the head office of the Royal Bank of Scotland, remaining a bank branch up to the present.  

Looking east on George Street, near Charlotte Square in the west end of the original New Town.  Shops, restaurants, bars, and professional offices now fill the Georgian-style buildings lining this principal thoroughfare through New Town, though these were once fashionable residential townhouses for Edinburgh's upper classes. 

The intersection of George Street and Hanover Street, in the eastern half of New Town's original layout.  The green  copper-domed building on the southeast corner houses the Royal Society of Edinburgh, an education charity established by Royal Charter in 1783 for 'the advancement of learning and useful knowledge' and housed here, at 22-24 George Street, since 1909.  The statue in the middle of the intersection is of King George IV (1762-1830), who visited Edinburgh in 1822, the first reigning monarch to visit Scotland since Charles I's visit for his Scottish coronation in 1633.     

An example of the elegant Georgian-style buildings of New Town, originally constructed as upscale townhouses for the city's elite.  Today they house fashionable flats and professional offices.  Named after the four British monarchs of the House of Hanover (George I, George II, George III, and George IV), Georgian architecture was popular during their reigns between 1714 and 1830 and is characterised by symmetry and proportion based on the architecture of Classical Greece and Rome, with retrained but uniform exterior ornamentation.   

The intersection of George Street and Frederick Street, in the centre of New Town.  The statue on the island in the middle of the intersection is of William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), Prime Minister of Great Britain between 1783 and 1801 and the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1804 to his death in  1806 at age 46.  Pitt the Younger was the son of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, Prime Minister of Great Britain in the mid-17th century.  The younger Pitt holds the record as the youngest Prime Minister in history, becoming PM at age 24 in 1783.  The statue of Pitt the Younger was erected here in 1833.      

The Standing Order, a JD Wetherspoon pub at 62-66 George Street, near the intersection with Frederick Street.  The building previously housed the Edinburgh head office of the Glasgow-based Union Bank of Scotland and was designed by David Bryce in 1874 in the Neoclassical style.  It features three Ionic porches on the ground floor, Corinthian detail on the first floor, and a panelled and bracketed cornice.  

Inside the former banking hall of The Standing Order pub, showing the ornate decoration on the high ceiling.

The Royal Scottish Academy on Princes Street at the intersection with Hanover Street was designed by architect William Henry Playfair, opened in 1827. Located behind the Royal Scottish Academy is the National Gallery of Scotland, also designed by Playfair and built between 1850-1854; it houses Scotland's national art collection, with works by Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, and Poussin. Both buildings are located on The Mound, the artificial land bridge linking Old Town and New Town and created from earth excavated during the construction of New Town.

A row of townhouses at the intersection of Dundas Street and Heriot Row in the second phase of the New Town, located north of the James Craig's original layout.  These townhouses, built in the early 1800s, are located across the street from the Queen Street Gardens. 

More Georgian-style townhouses, these ones at the intersection of Royal Circus and North East Circus Place, in the northwestern part of New Town.  Royal Circus is one of two such circuses (circular road junctions) in the second phase of New Town, built between 1800 and approximately 1830, and is mirrored in the east end by the second circus, Drummond Place, with the principal thoroughfare, Great King Street, linking them.  The centre of these circuses is occupied by parkland, with the townhouses looking out onto the quiet expanses of lawns and trees bounded by the roadway.

At the western end of George Street sits Charlotte Square, designed by Scottish architect Robert Adam in 1791 and representing the culmination of the first phase of the New Town development in 1820.  While Robert Adam's plan was carried out by others following his death in 1792, the north side of Charlotte Square remained true to his vision. Charlotte Square was a fashionable residential address for Edinburgh's middle class elite in the legal and medical professions in the Victorian era, evolving into professional offices rather than private residences in the 20th century. Charlotte Square complements St Andrew Square at the east end of George Street; however, unlike St Andrew Square, Charlotte Square is not publicly-accessible, being ringed by a wrought iron fence and open only to the owners of surrounding properties.  Interestingly, the original iron fence was removed and melted down for the war effort in 1940, with the current fence dating from 1947.  At the centre of Charlotte Square sits an equestrian statue of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria until his death in 1861, in field marshal's uniform, which was commissioned in 1865 and unveiled by Queen Victoria in 1876.  Seen in the distance, in the centre of the west side of Charlotte Square, is West Register House, formerly St George's Church between 1814 and 1964, when it was converted into one of the principal buildings housing the National Records of Scotland.

Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland, located at No. 6 Charlotte Square, on the northern side of Charlotte Square.  Built between 1793 and 1805, the four-storey Neoclassical house contains the Cabinet Room, offices, reception, sitting and dining rooms for the First Minister when working or entertaining, and the private residence of the First Minister on the second and third floors.  The house was transferred to the National Trust for Scotland by John Crichton-Stuart, 6th Marquess of Bute, in May 1966 (along with the adjoining Nos. 5 and 7 Charlotte Square) and served as the official grace-and-favour residence of the Secretary of State for Scotland from 1970 to 1999.  With the devolution of power to Scotland and the consequent establishment of the post of First Minister of Scotland in 1999, Bute House became the official residence of the First Minister.  Next door to No. 6, No. 7 Charlotte Square, built in 1796, has been restored internally by the National Trust for Scotland to resemble a typical New Town residence in the period 1760-1830 and is open to the public as The Georgian House museum. 

The West End

Adjacent to the western end of Edinburgh's New Town and Old Town, the West End is home to many of the city's arts venues.  The northern half of the West End is included in the Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage site, reflecting the large number of architecturally-significant buildings, including long rows of Georgian-era terraced homes.  

The junction of Princes Street, Lothian Road, and Shandwick Place in Edinburgh's West End.

The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian, a luxury hotel located a the intersection of Princes Street and Lothian Road at the west end of Central Edinburgh. The traditional rival of the Balmoral Hotel at the east end of Princes Street, The Caledonian Hotel opened in December 1903 as part of the Caledonian Railway's Edinburgh Princes Street Station, which was closed in 1965 and demolished in 1970. As originally built, The Caledonian Hotel featured 205 rooms in the Louis XV style, and provided direct access to the railway station located underneath the hotel. Inside, the railway station's former concourse and ticketing office have been roofed over to provide a bar and lounge named Peacock Alley.

The Church of St John the Evangelist, a Scottish Episcopal church located at the intersection of Princes Street and Lothian Road.  Designed by architect William Burn in 1815, construction commenced in 1816 and the neo-gothic church, then known as St John's Chapel, was officially dedicated in 1818.  The sanctuary and chancel were built between 1879 and 1882, with the vestry and Hall being completed in 1915-1916 and a war memorial in 1919. 

The graveyard of the Parish Church of St Cuthbert. According to a sign in the graveyard, Christian worship has been celebrated continuously on the site of St Cuthbert's for 13 centuries and several churches have stood on this ground over the years.  The spire of the present St Cuthbert's dates from 1789, with the rest of the building being completed in 1894.  The pair of Baroque towers added to the rear of the church in the 1890s can be seen on the far left of the photos.

Edinburgh Castle looms over the graveyard of the Parish Church of St Cuthbert's.  Notable people buried here include John Napier (1550-1617), investor of logarithms, and the writer Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859).

A westbound tram arrives at the West End - Princes Street Station platform on Shandwick Place.  The copper turreted spire of Charlotte Chapel (1912) at Shandwick Place and Stafford Street towers in the background.  Transport for Edinburgh operates Edinburgh Trams, a 14 kilometre (8.7 mile), 16-stop tramline between Edinburgh Airport and York Place in New Town.  Construction of the tramline began in June 2008, with the line officially opening on 31 May 2013 at a cost of £776 million.  An extension of the line to the suburb of Newhaven was approved by Edinburgh Council in March 2019, and is expected to be operational by early 2023.   Edinburgh Trams uses 27 Urbos 3 bi-directional, low-floor trams built by Spanish rolling stock manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), each measuring 42.8 metres (140 feet 5 inches) long and accommodating up to 250 seated and standing passengers.

Atholl Crescent Gardens, with the Georgian residences of Atholl Crescent in the background.  The Atholl Crescent Gardens and similar gardens in front of Coates Crescent, opposite, provide a welcome natural barrier between the residences and the traffic along Shandwick Place, a busy thoroughfare leading into the west end of Princes Street.

Like Atholl Crescent, Coates Crescent was part of the New Town western development and was substantially completed by 1825. Coates Crescent Gardens, located across the road in front of the residences came into the care of the City of Edinburgh Council in 1949 and is home to an important bronze statue of William Ewart Gladstone, a four-time British Liberal Party Prime Minister with connections to Edinburgh.    

The Caley Picture House, a JD Wetherspoon pub located on Lothian Road in Edinburgh's West End.  The 90-seat cinema opened on 1 January 1923, with renovations increasing the capacity to 1,900 in 1928.  It closed in 1984, re-opening two years later as a discotheque, and in 2016 was converted into a Wetherspoon pub.   

The lobby of the Caley Picture House is dominated by an antique cinema projector, with much of the feel and decor of the original Art Deco cinema preserved.

The cavernous interior of the Caley Picture House today, as seen from the stairs leading up to the mezzanine level.  The area once occupied by the stage and screen now houses the long, wooden bar where patrons order their meals and drinks, while tables and chairs now occupy the former seating areas.  Even in the mid-afternoon of weekday, the Caley Picture House was filled with patrons enjoying a drink or a late lunch.

Usher Hall, a concert venue on Lothian Road in Edinburgh's West End, flanked by the Royal Lyceum Theatre on the right and the Traverse Theatre on the left.  The foundation stone for Usher Hall was laid by King George V on 19 July 1911, and the 2,200-seat building was officially opened on 16 March 1914. It is named after Andrew Usher, a whisky distiller who donated £100,000 to the city of Edinburgh in 1896 for the express purpose of constructing a new concert hall; unfortunately, Usher died in 1898, before work on the hall had commenced.  Usher Hall has hosted various musical, cultural, political, sporting, charitable, and religious events, and is the Edinburgh home of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Water of Leith

The Water of Leith is the principal river flowing through Edinburgh, emptying into the Firth of Forth at the nearby port of Leith after its 35 kilometre (22 mile) run from its source in the Pentland Hills.  The Water of Leith Walkway parallels the river for 19.71 kilometres (12.25 miles) between the Edinburgh suburb of Balerno and Leith is a popular attraction for visitors to Edinburgh.  Managed by the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, the river is home to several species of fish, as well as various mammals and birds.     

Located at the southern end of the Dean Bridge, alongside the A90/Queensferry Road, the Dean Bridge House was built in 1619 and was once a tavern catering to the bakers and millers who resided and worked in the Dean Village.  Today, it is a private residence. 

Mounted on the wall of the Dean Bridge House is a square bas-relief plaque containing the phrase, 'In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread' and the date 1619.  The phrase is from the Bible's Book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 19.  The images depicted in the plaque relate to milling and baking, showing the sun, sheafs of wheat, scales, and bakers' shovels. 

The Bell's Brae House Bed & Breakfast, located on the banks of the Water of Leith at Bell's Brae Bridge in the quiet Dean Village.  Formerly a merchant's home, the building was constructed in the mid-1600s.

The Water of Leith, as seen from the Bell's Brae Bridge, where the original crossing of the river was built in the 5th century.  The 5th century bridgeg was only wide enough to accommodate a single carriage with horses and yet was the only way to cross the Water of Leith to get to the Queens Ferry prior to the construction of the Dean Bridge and Belford Bridge in the 19th century.

A carved stone relief of the emblem of the Incorporation of Baxters (the baker's guild or union), depicting bakers' shovels loaded with loaves.  This emblem can be found on a number of former mill buildings in the Dean Industrial Village located along the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, which provided the power to run the millstones that ground grain into flour.  Edinburgh's bakers were the biggest customers of the mills' flour and the Incorporation of Baxters owned five of the mills in the Dean Industrial Village.  There were mills located here from at least 1128, with 11 in operation during the 17th century; they supplied flour and other milled grain to the residents of Edinburgh via a nearby main road. 

A monument made from millstones commemorates the milling history of the Dean Industrial Village.  These stones came from Lindsay's mill and are made from an especially hard stone imported from France and designed to last a long time.  The grooves cut into the faces of the millstones were designed to channel the crushed grain (flour) out to the edge of the stones to be collected. 

The Dean Bridge spanning the Water of Leith was designed by Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford and built between 1829 and 1831.  The bridge was partly paid for by John Learmonth, former Edinburgh Lord Provost and owner of the Dean Estate on the northern bank of the Water of Leith, who wanted better access to extend the fashionable New Town to the north of the river.  The Dean Bridge opened to foot traffic in 1832 and to horse and cart traffic in May 1834.  The bridge's four stone arches measure 32 metres (106 feet) high and carry the A90 road to Queensferry across the 136 metre (447 foot) wide gorge through which the Water of Leith flows.   

A dusk view of the Water of Leith, quietly flowing under the Dean Bridge as it meanders through Edinburgh en route to the Firth of Forth, 17 April 2019.

Scottish Parliament Building

Following a 11 September 1997 referendum in which over 74% of Scottish voters approved the proposal for a directly elected Scottish Parliament, work began to select a site and a design for the new parliamentary building.  The site ultimately chosen in January 1998 was that of the former headquarters of the Scottish and Newcastle brewing company, located one kilometre east of Edinburgh city centre, on the eastern edge of the Old Town.  An international competition was held to select a design, with Spanish architect Enric Miralles being announced as the winner on 6 July 1998.  Miralles's vision sought to symbolise the connection between nature and the Scottish people, with plenty of glass walls and windows to permit natural light in and to allow parliamentarians to view the landscape outside.  Miralles also reinforced the Scottish identity of the building by using local materials, such as gneiss and granite in the flooring and walls, and incorporating oak and sycamore in furnishings and decor.  Landscaping over the 4-acre site of the parliamentary building was also designed to blend in with nearby Holyrood Park and the Salisbury Crags through the use of native Scottish wildflowers, grasses, and other plants.  Construction on the parliamentary building commenced in June 1999, with Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) being temporarily accommodated in committee rooms and a debating chamber established in the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh's Old Town.  Although the new Scottish Parliament Building was originally to have been completed by 2001 at a cost of between £10 million and £40 million, the final opening date was three years late, in 2004, and at a final cost of £414 million, sparking controversy and an official inquiry.  The new Scottish Parliament Building hosted its first debate on 7 September 2004, and the building was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 9 October 2004. Today, it houses 129 MSPs and more than 1,000 staff and civil servants.

Below: The front and reverse sides of a visitor map of the Scottish Parliament Building.

Below: The covers and first two pages of two complimentary booklets on the Scottish Parliament, 'Your Scottish Parliament' and 'Your Parliament at Work'. Both booklets are available to visitors to the Scottish Parliament Building.

The Scottish Parliament Building at the intersection of Canongate and Horse Wynd.  Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park can be seen in the background on the left of the photo.  Although the building has been heavily criticised by some of the public and press, architectural critics have praised the design, with the Royal Institute of British Architects awarding the Scottish Parliament Building its Stirling Prize in 2005.

The east side of the Scottish Parliament Building, location of the public entrance.  Members of the public may undertake a self-guided tour of certain parts of the building, including the debating chamber, on non-sitting days, as well as obtain tickets to access the public gallery on sitting days.  A permanent exhibition on the origins of the Scottish Parliament, the design of the building, and the role of Members of Scottish Parliament occupy a space on the ground floor.

The debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament Building. The chamber's seating is arranged in an elliptical horseshoe shape, with the governing party or parties in the centre and opposition parties on either side.  Similar to other European legislatures, this layout is designed to encourage consensus amongst MSPs, unlike the more adversarial layout of other Westminster-style parliaments. The roof of the debating chamber is notable for its structure of laminated oak beams joined by 112 stainless steel connectors and suspended on steel rods from the walls; this design allows the chamber to span over 30 metres (100 feet) without any supporting columns interrupting sightlines.  The galleries above the chamber can accommodate 255 spectators, 18 guests, and 34 members of the media.

Holyrood Palace

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, popularly known as Holyrood Palace, is the official Scottish residence of the British monarch.  It has been the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century and is today used for state occasions and entertaining.  The palace is built in a classical style and laid out in a quadrangle measuring 230 feet by 230 feet, with three storeys and an attic.  

King James IV had the initial incarnation of Holyrood Palace constructed between 1501 and 1505 in the Gothic style.  His son, James V, expanded the palace between 1528 and 1536 with the addition of the northwest tower and the reconstruction of the west and south ranges of the building in the Renaissance style.  Holyrood Palace was reconstructed after being looted and burned by English forces under the Earl of Hertford in 1544.  On 10 August 1646, King Charles I appointed James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton as hereditary Keeper of Holyroodhouse, a position his descendants occupy to this day; as one of the Great Offices of the Royal Household of Scotland, the Duke of Hamilton's private apartments occupy more space in the palace than the state apartments.  During the period of republican rule of England, Ireland, and Scotland between 1650 and 1660, Holyrood Palace was used as a barracks for Oliver Cromwell's soldiers.  Following the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II, the palace in its current form was built between 1671 and 1679.  After the 1707 Union of England and Scotland, Holyrood Palace lost its principal functions as a royal residence, though Scotland's representative peers continued to be elected in the Great Gallery, the largest room in the palace.  Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Stuart family's claimant to the British throne, briefly held court at Holyrood Palace in 1745 during the Jacobite Rising which ended with his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746.  In 1822, King George IV visited Holyrood Palace, the first reigning monarch to visit since Charles I; he ordered repairs to the neglected parts of the palace, though prohibited any changes to the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots.  Queen Victoria first visited Holyrood Palace in 1850, with the repossession of various noblemen's lodgings eventually providing Victoria with a second-floor royal apartment in 1871.  Beginning in 1854, the historic apartments in the northwest tower were opened to the public.  Central heating and electric lighting was installed in Holyrood Palace in advance of the 1911 visit by King George V, with improvements to bathrooms and kitchens being made following the First World War.  In the 1920s, the palace was designated as the official Scottish residence of the monarch. 

Today, Queen Elizabeth II spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace every summer, undertaking official engagements and ceremonies and hosting garden parties.  Prince Charles also spends one week in residence at the palace each year in order to carry out engagements in his capacity as Duke of Rothesay.  The public may visit Holyrood Palace throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence, to tour the 16th century apartments of Mary Queen of Scots in the northwest tower, the 17th century former King's apartments and Great Gallery, the state apartments used for entertaining, the grounds, and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. 

Below: The front and reverse sides of a pamphlet for Holyrood Palace, showing some of the most notable sights in the palace, as well as admission pricing and information on special tours and exhibitions.

Holyrood Palace, as seen from the perimeter gates.  The oldest part of the palace, the 16th century northwest tower, is on the left, and was once home to Mary Queen of Scots between her return from France 1561 and her forced abdication in 1567.  The southwest tower built in the 1670s is on the right.  A recessed two-storey range links the two towers and includes the main entrance to the palace, featuring a carving of the Royal Arms of Scotland, a cupola and clock, and impressive Roman Doric columns.  The Victorian-era fountain in the palace's forecourt is a replica of a 16th century fountain at Linlithgow Palace, located 24 kilometres west of Edinburgh.  The ruins of the 12th century Holyrood Abbey can just be seen on the far left of the photo, behind the palace.

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