Presenting a rather Gothic cityscape as it spreads out below its
ancient Castle, reaching out to the port of Leith, Edinburgh is far
from dour. The canny Scots have crafted a capital that is crammed
with culture, filled with fun and festivity, veneered with
sophistication but reeking of history and mystery.
It's a heady combination that never fails to charm visitors to
this city, built on a set of extinct volcanoes on the Firth of
Forth, an inlet from the North Sea, just north of the border
between Scotland and England.
The first thing that catches the eye is the looming battlements
of the castle, sitting atop sheer granite cliffs that can only be
accessed from one steep ridge. Today the castle heads up the Royal
Mile and a linear set of streets making up the 'New Town', created
when Edinburgh was re-designed in the 1700s, after the Act of Union
with Britain. Tourists eagerly wander up and down the main street,
Princes Street, all year round, browsing in the top quality stores
and photographing the vista of the castle and the old town. When it
comes to sightseeing, Edinburgh's attractions are largely based on
historic stories and legends, from the churchyard where Greyfriar's
Bobby, the terrier, refused to leave his master's grave, to the
grand royal apartments of Holyrood House, where Mary Queen of Scots
watched her husband kill her lover back in the 16th century.
Edinburgh oozes atmosphere, but never more so than during the
summer months, when the vibrant Edinburgh Festival fills the city
with drama, creativity and colourful visitors from around the
world. Another occasion when Edinburgh pulls out all its stops is
during the traditional Hogmanay New Year festival, when the jolly
festivities are warmed by a great imbibing of Scottish malt whisky
and ales pulled in the many local pubs.
Edinburgh is perhaps best summed up by one of its famous sons,
the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, who described it as 'a
profusion of eccentricities; a dream in masonry and living rock'.
Just remember that if you want to endear yourself to the locals,
pronounce the city's name as 'Edinbruh' and not 'Edinberg'!