I’ve been looking at Edinburgh’s weather forecast for the past few days, so I can plan to explore Edinburgh some more. For the past month and a half, I’ve been confining my walks and travels to specific destinations and really haven’t had a good perspective of the layout of Edinburgh. After researching some possible places to explore, I decided to head over the Holyrood area, perhaps see Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Parliament, and whatever else I could find.
I decided to head off towards Princes Street and from there to the Holyrood area. Princes Street is one of the main thoroughfares in Edinburgh with a variety of shops on one side of the street, and monuments and parks on the other. From the blue dot on the map above (where I’m living in Edinburgh), I walk through the villiage of Stockbridge up towards my gym – and a few blocks beyond is Princes Street.
The Scott’s Monument is a landmark on Princes Street. It is a Gothic monument dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, and happens to be the largest monument dedicated to a writer in the world. (Who knew?) The monument is very tall and can be easily seen from many directions.
From Princes Street, it is an excellent view of Edinburgh Castle on the hill above and Old Town. Waverley Station is also on Princes Street and many of the major museums are also close by.
Where I was headed on my walk is just beyond all of this. I was letting my phone’s GPS guide me to the Holyrood area when I saw something in the distance. It looked like the Parthenon on a hill ahead – so I turned off the GPS and walked in that direction rather than proceed to Holyrood. As I got closer I saw a tall tower and some other buildings. I then realized this was Calton Hill that I had heard about. So up the hill I walked.
When I got to the top, I found a number of buildings and monuments. I learned that this was the first public park dedicated in Edinburgh. From this point you can see off in all directions over Edinburgh. From here I got a great perspective of how Edinburgh was laided out. You can see all the way from the Firth of Forth and out to the North Sea, over to the Forth Road Bridge, all of central Edinburgh, including the Holyrood area. (Try to find some city skyscrapers. Are are none.)
I wandered all around the hill, taking pictures and looking off in all directions. Being a weekday, there were only a few people up on the hill with me. I took my time looking around and exploring the area. Edinburgh gave itself the title ‘Athens of the North’ to express its gowning importance and sense of achievement. (See the Edinburgh World Heritage page for more information.) On Canton Hill there is a partially built National Monument, a memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. The monument, based on the Parthenon, was left unfinished in 1829.
After about an hour, I decided to refer back to the GPS and head over to the Holyrood area. Holyrood is at the eastern end of the city center and at the lower end of the Royal Mile, where Edinburgh Castle is up at one end and Holyrood Palace is at the other. The Royal Mile is the main street of Edinburgh’s Old Town.
(The Old Town is the name given to the oldest part of Edinburgh and has much of its medieval buildings. Starting in the 18th century, Edinburgh expanded to the area now known as New Town, which is considered to be a masterpiece of city planning from streets to buildings, many of which are neoclassical and Georgian. For the most part, Old Town is on one side of the former Nor Loch (now occupied by Princes Street Gardens) and New Town on the other side.)
The picture below shows Edinburgh Castle and the original Old Town with the Castle, the Nor Loch in the center, and to the right the undeveloped area that would later become New Town. Arthur’s Seat is the main peak in the group of mountains / hills as shown in the lower part of the picture.
The picture below was taken from Calton Hill and looks down on the Holyrood area. Arthur’s Seat can be seen in the distance.
Holyrood Palace is the official Scottish residence of HM The Queen, who visits the palace for one week each year. It has been the home of Scottish monarchs since the 16th century and contains the preserved apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots. Pictures of the interior were not allowed, but I got some pictures of the front of the palace and the inner courtyard, and also the abby that was part of the original settlement of the area. The palace was expanded in the 17th century by Charles II.
The pictures of the inner courtyard (below) show the different classical orders to indicate the importance of the three main floors of the palace. The plain Doric order is used for the services at the ground floor, the Ionic order is used for the state apartments on the first floor (in the U.S., this is the second floor) and the elaborate Corinthian order is used above for the royal apartments.
The abby, connected to the palace, is now in ruins but you can still see the outline of the building.
From the palace, I walked over to the Scottish Parliament Buildings, which are really just across the street from the palace. They are fairly new, and were dedicated in 2004. I’ll have to go on a tour next time I’m in the area.
On the way back, I took a picture of Regent Bridge which connected Princes Street to Calton Hill and was built in the early 1800’s.
As I was heading into the Stockbridge area, I saw an interesting cloud formation. It looks like there were two vertical pillars holding up the clouds. Thought I’d include into this update.
Update Regarding Updates: I’ll try to add more updates. I’d like to document what I’m eating, my workouts, research activities, etc. Perhaps how many naps I take in one day. 🙂