(Brief) History of Edinburgh

OLD TOWN

Edinburgh is essentially split into old town and new town, separated by Princes Street gardens which used to be a loch, and linked by the grand bridge and hundreds of alleys. The Old Town has by far the most character of the two. It’s medieval cobbled Streets and mismatched buildings make you feel as though you could be in a different era. The Royal Mile, or the High Street, cuts all the way down the Old Town, and joins up the Great Edinburgh Castle up in the west and Holyrood Palace down in the south.

The Castle sits up proudly upon (the aptly named) Castle Rock. Right on the other side of the Old Town is the vast expanse of Holyrood Park containing Arthurs seat, an ancient Volcano. The geography of Edinburgh really is fascinating. Although the Old Town design was based on the classic medieval town layout, allowences had to be made because of it’s intense geography. Castle Rock and Arthurs Seat are results of a fjord destroying the bedrock of the old town but resisting these harder volcanic rocks. *Don’t quote me on this – I study history, not geography – but I think this is about right*

NEW TOWN

The New Town began to evolve in the late 1700’s. The streets are far more orderly and the buildings are classically designed, often to look like grand palaces. I won’t bore you with too many details – but I do find this interesting. The 1st New town begins at Princes Street, the main shopping street in the city which overlooks the gardens and the Old Town to the South. Parallel to this are 4 more important roads as you go north.

new town

  • Princes Street: named after King George’s two eldest sons.
  • George Street: named after King George III. From here there are breathtaking views to the north of the city towards the sea, and many stunning buildings.
  • Queen Street: named after George’s wife and leads onto Queen Street Gardens.
  • Rose and Thistle Street: represent the union between England and Scotland.
  • Charlotte Square: named after George’s first daughter. It culminates George Street in the west with a stunning church.
  • St Andrews Square: obviously named for St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. It contains the Melville monument.

Beyond this first New Town there are others stretching all the way to the port of Leith. The only area really worth a visit is that around Carlton Hill.

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