Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, one of the most interesting cities in Europe


Edinburgh (UK) – detailed city guide with photos. The best sights of Edinburgh with descriptions.

City of Edinburgh (United Kingdom).

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and one of the largest cities in the north of the United Kingdom. It is a place that combines antiquity and modernity in a unique Scottish atmosphere. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the United Kingdom with an imposing medieval castle perched on a high rocky peak and striking medieval gothic architecture juxtaposed with magnificent examples of modern construction. It is a true center of history, culture and art, recognized as the most desirable place to live in Britain.

Edinburgh is divided into Old Town and New Town, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

What to do (Edinburgh):

Pictorial Notes by Robert Lewis Stevenson

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£150 for a guided tour

Robert Lewis Stevenson’s pictorial notes

Discover Edinburgh as seen through the eyes of the Scottish author

A great sightseeing walk around Edinburgh

£209 for a guided tour

Edinburgh Grand Tour

Explore key areas of the city, its atmosphere and medieval legends

Geography and Climate

Edinburgh is located in the North East of Scotland, 650km from London. The city lies on the North Sea coast between the valley of the River Leith and the slopes of the low Salisbury Crag. The climate is temperate maritime with cool summers and mild winters. Frequent showers are possible during the warm season. Also in October and March the weather is formed by Atlantic cyclones, which cause rain.

Edinburgh is located in the Midlands Lowlands, the relief of which is formed by volcanic processes and glaciations.



Tourist information

  1. Population – more than 480 thousand people.
  2. Area – 118 km².
  3. Currency – pound sterling.
  4. Language – English, Gaelic, Scottish.
  5. Time – UTC 0, in summer UTC +1.
  6. The United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen Agreement. Visas can be obtained by personal visit to accredited visa centers, which are located in Moscow, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg.
  7. Edinburgh Airport is the largest in Scotland. It offers a wide range of domestic and international flights to Europe, North America and the Middle East. There are daily flights to Scottish capital from Amsterdam, Milan, Budapest, Istanbul, Barcelona, Berlin, Krakow, Athens, Prague, Rome, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Hamburg.
  8. Popular shopping areas: Princes Street, Multrees Walk and Grassmarket in Old Town.
  9. Traditional dishes: Haggis (national dish of Scotland), Black Pudding (blood sausage), Scotch Pie and Bridie (pie filled with minced meat), Cranachan (light dessert from raspberry, whipped cream, honey and toasted oats).
  10. Edinburgh is famous for its pubs. The most popular alcoholic drinks are Scotch Whisky and beer.
  11. Edinburgh is one of the safest cities in Britain. Here certain danger lurks only in Sighthill and Wester Hailes districts, as well as suburbs.


The first settlements on the site of the modern city were founded in the 7th century. Edinburgh itself was first mentioned in the 12th century, when King David I of Scotland founded a church here. A little later, a royal castle was also founded. After the royal residence was moved to Edinburgh Castle, the city began to grow and develop rapidly. In the 13th century Edinburgh officially became the capital of Scotland and remained the most important city in the kingdom until the early 17th century.

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The Streets of Edinburgh

The streets of Edinburgh

In 1544, Scotland’s capital was significantly damaged by English troops. In the 16th century, Edinburgh was at the center of the events of the Scottish Reformation. In 1603, King James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, uniting the kingdoms of the English and the Scots. After that, Edinburgh’s political importance diminished, but it continued to be an important cultural center in Britain.

Edinburgh Panorama

Edinburgh Panorama

In the 17th century the boundaries of Edinburgh were still defined by medieval walls. Of course, this was not enough for a growing city. That’s why in the 18th century the New Town was built in the Georgian style. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Edinburgh became the center of the Scottish Enlightenment and earned the nickname “Athens of the North.” In the 19th century Edinburgh ceded its status as Scotland’s largest city to Glasgow. Now Scotland’s capital is a thriving modern city with a high standard of living and low unemployment.


The historic center of Edinburgh is divided into two parts by the Princes Street Gardens. To the south lies the Castle, perched on top of an extinct volcanic rock and surrounded by the medieval streets of the Old Town. To the north lies the New Town, built in the 18th century in the style of Georgian architecture.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks and a symbol of Edinburgh. This ancient fortress was founded in the 12th century and is one of the most important historical monuments in Britain. The castle is situated on a picturesque cliff, which is an extinct volcano. The oldest parts of this medieval fortress date back to the 12th century. Edinburgh Castle has a wonderful historical atmosphere. It is also home to royal jewels and other important relics.

Royal Mile

Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is a wonderful historical street that connects Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. It is a place with charming architecture, tall old houses, churches and narrow little alleys.

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace is the official Scottish residence of the Queen of Great Britain and one of Edinburgh’s most important historic buildings. In the 11th century an Augustinian abbey was founded here, which was transformed into the current royal palace in the late 15th century.

St. John´s Cathedral

St. John’s Cathedral

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St. John’s Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture dating from the 13th century. This cathedral is Edinburgh’s most important religious structure and has an interesting (somewhat austere) façade. The most notable element of its structure is the central tower with eight arched pillars, which form a kind of crown.

Tron Kirk Church

Tron Kirk Church

Tron Kirk Church is a former parish church that is one of the most famous landmarks of the Royal Mile. This religious structure was built in the 17th century after the Scottish Reformation.

Church of St. John the Evangelist

Church of John the Evangelist

The Church of St. John the Evangelist is a beautiful neo-Gothic church built in the 19th century.

Church of Sts. Paul and George

Church of St. Paul and St. George

The Church of St. Paul and St. George is another Gothic Revival style church that was built in the 19th century.

Scott Monument

Scott’s Monument

Scott’s Monument is one of the best examples of Victorian Gothic architecture dedicated to the famous Scottish writer. The structure has a height of 61 meters. To get to the top on a narrow spiral staircase you have to overcome 287 steps.



Greyfriars is Edinburgh’s oldest city cemetery, formed in the 16th century. The church was built in the 17th century.

Princes Street

Princes Street

Princes Street is the main thoroughfare of the New Town, which stretches for almost a mile and is surrounded by a park. It is one of Edinburgh’s main shopping areas with many stores and restaurants.

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is an ancient museum dedicated to optical illusions.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill

Calton Hill is a high hill and Edinburgh’s best vantage point. At the foot of the slope is the royal high school from the 13th century. The monument on the hill commemorates those who fell in the Napoleonic Wars.

Edinburgh Museums:

  • National Gallery of Scotland, a collection of European paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance to the present day.
  • National Museum of Scotland – medieval artifacts and collections devoted to history, geology, art, science and technology.

Excursions of interest

Edinburgh. Journey Through the Ages

£143 per day

Edinburgh. Journey through the ages

Explore the architecture, history and legends of Scotland’s medieval capital

Mystic Edinburgh

£111 per guided tour

Edinburgh Mystique

An evening stroll through some of the city’s most mysterious sites and ancient Scottish legends

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, one of the most interesting cities in Europe

Edinburgh, nicknamed Northern Athens, is the capital of Scotland, and according to many the most attractive city of Northern Europe. The Romans, who set up their military camp here, chose an ideal site on a rocky promontory from which to control a vast territory.

Edinburgh, which now has nearly half a million inhabitants, began to grow around the castle, which was later built there to defend against attacks from the north, King St Edwin of Northumbria . Accordingly from his name came the name of the town, Edwin’s Castle . Then Malcolm III, founder of the Scottish ruling family, chose it as his royal residence, and in 1437 it became the capital of the Kingdom of Scotland.

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Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, one of Europe's most interesting cities

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and one of the most interesting cities in Europe

The importance of Edinburgh grew until 1707, when Scotland was annexed to England and the Scottish Parliament was dissolved. It then became a lowly merchant city for many centuries. The medieval buildings still retain their atmosphere thanks to the network of narrow streets and passages crossing the hill. In 1767 on the dried up lake below it the so-called New Town rose, which is an example of the largest single planned construction of its time. The unusual harmony of the two parts, belonging to different centuries, allowed Edinburgh to be inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995.

The great advantage of Scotland’s capital is its amazing location between the sea and the hills. The locals regularly take the opportunity to walk up the 251 meters high steep hill called “Arthur’s Place” to walk along the sandy beaches. The Scottish capital is famous, in part, for the writers, artists and scientists who have worked there. Among the most famous are the economist Adam Smith, the philosopher David Hume and the writers Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, is a complex of buildings from the 12th to the 20th century on top of the Royal Mile in the heart of the Scottish capital. The site on a 135-meter-high extinct volcano with its own spring water, flanked by steep slopes and with views up to 150 km away, has always seemed ideal for building a fortress. The first known fortress was founded here in the 7th century by King Edwin of Northumbria, after which the city probably got its name. In XI and XII centuries the Scottish royal residence was located here .

The oldest surviving building in this complex, as well as in the whole town, is a small chapel for 26 worshippers dedicated to St Margaret. Robert Bruck was the only one to survive the conquest of the castle in 1313. The center of the force today consists of the royal palace of the 15th – century, where the Scottish King James VI, the future King James I of England, was born. After the merger of the parliaments of England and Scotland in 1707, they were walled up and discovered more than a century later at the instigation of Sir Walter Scott. In addition to them, you can now see the so-called Stone of Destiny, on which Scottish rulers have been crowned since the 6th century. The centuries-old tradition was interrupted by Edward I, who in 1296 moved it to Westminster Abbey, where it remained for seven hundred years.

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Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, one of Europe's most interesting cities

Edinburgh Castle

Also worth seeing is the 1742 Governor’s Palace with its stepped gables in the Flemish Renaissance style, the Scottish National War Memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the First World War, or the 15th-century main hall where the Scottish Parliament met until 1639. Don’t miss a tour of the casemates, where the prisoners engraved several inscriptions on the walls. Most of them date from the 18th and 19th centuries, when Britain was at war with France. In the 1970s, an artillery defense of the northeast wing, called the Crescent Moon Battery, was established. A ceremony has been held here every day since 1861, during which a cannon shot is fired at exactly 1 p.m.

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace, the official Scottish residence of the British monarchs and one of Edinburgh’s main attractions. Holyrood Palace is at the end of Edinburgh’s main Royal Mile, which connects it to the castle. The name Holyrood, which means Holy Cross , refers to an event that took place here in 1128.

Then King David I went hunting in the local woods and saw a stag with a cross on it. It was on this site that he founded the abbey, which became one of the largest in Scotland. Nearby, in the places where the monastery’s guests stayed, James IV began building a royal palace in 1500. It was completed 29 years later by James V, but the building was reconstructed several times over, as it suffered fire and was destroyed by Cromwell’s troops.

Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, one of Europe's most interesting cities

Holyrood Palace.

Today’s square floor plan with a side of 70 meters was acquired by the palace in the 1970s, when Charles II commissioned a redesign from his chief architect in Scotland, Sir William Bruce. He also incorporated the surviving old parts into the palace’s new form. The queen traditionally stays one week at Holyrood Palace in early summer, holding a series of ceremonies and banquets. The palace is currently closed to the public. During the rest of the year, however, visitors can admire the beauty of its interiors and the treasures preserved there.

The largest room of the palace is the so-called Gallery of the Kings of Scotland, where you can see 89 portraits of Scottish monarchs, starting with the legendary founder of Scotland Fergus I. You can see portraits of Macbeth, Mary Stuart and Robert the Bruce, all from the studio of James de Witt. The same artist is the author of the beautiful ceilings in several rooms of the palace. One of the most beautiful is in the royal bedroom, depicting Hercules gaining access to heaven. You can also see the room in which Queen Mary Stuart’s loyal secretary was murdered. Legend has it that a blood stain has appeared in this room repeatedly over the centuries. The palace is surrounded by 4 hectares of gardens, which turn into a park. It is here that the Salisbury Cliffs and a basalt rock 250 meters high called “Arthur’s Chair” are located.

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Royal Mile

The Royal Mile, the main street of historic Edinburgh, connects the castle with Holyrood Palace. The backbone of the city, now called the Royal Mile in length, includes several streets and existed as early as the 12th century. Since then, farmsteads with outbuildings have been built around it, but they were completely replaced by new stone houses after a fire in 1544. Since the town was surrounded by walls, it could not grow, so it began to be built in height. In the 17th century there were also fourteen-story revenue houses that housed three hundred people.

The street begins at Castle Esplanade, the square in front of the castle, which was created as a training ground for the royal army. From here comes Castle Hill with a house with a jamming cannonball in the wall showing the height of the spring from which Edinburgh was supplied with water, a camera obscura and the Whisky Heritage Centre. It’s worth visiting Edinburgh’s tallest tower, which belongs to a consecrated church that houses the Edinburgh Festival Center.

The dominant feature of the entire Royal Mile is the Protestant church dedicated to St. Giles, where the pastors of the Church of Scotland meet annually and whose magnificent thistle chapel unites representatives of Scotland’s highest order, the Order of the Thistle. At the church, no one should miss the paved heart that marks the site of the prison, the statue of Adam Smith, and the Houses of Parliament, where Scotland’s highest legislative body sat from 1639 to 1707. The High Street passes by the consecrated Tron Kirk Church to the house where he lived for eleven years and where the famous Protestant reformer John Knox also died.

Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, one of Europe's most interesting cities

Royal Mile

The name of the last part of the Royal Mile , Canongate Street, recalls the gate which once stood here and through which the canons from Holyrood Abbey entered the city. No one should miss the 17th-century classicist church, which offers a magnificent view of Calton Hill and where the poet Robert Fergusson and the economist Adam Smith found their final resting place.

The Royal Mile ends with the residences of the royal and legislative powers. The modern parliament building was built here in the early 21st century, and although its opening was delayed by three years and the cost of the building increased almost tenfold, the Scots are rightly proud of it. The terminus at the end of the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, which serves as the official residence of the Scottish monarch.

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