We are going to climb 103 meters over sea level to get the best panoramic picture of Edinburgh. We speak, of course, about the hill you can see from many partsof the city, and from where we can see many of them. Calton Hill is one of the seven hills among which Edinburgh was raised. On top of the hill,there are some neoclassical monuments that we think you will love to photograph, so let´s go on it.
National Monument isone of the most famous icons of the city. It is a replica of the Parthenon and it was built to honour the deadsoldiers during the Napoleonic Wars. The architect is William Henry Playfair, well known in this city.
Monument of Nelson, thetower built to commemorate the victory of vice admiral Nelson in theTrafalgar battle, in front of the Spanish coasts.
Monument to Douglas Steward, dedicated to the philosopher and teacher of Edinburgh University. This monument is very well known with the shape of a small temple andit appears in most of the pictures taken on this hill.
The City´s Observatory, also from thearchitect Playfair, inspired in Greece as well, lost its function years ago. Actually, part of the Observatory is being used as an art gallery.
Rock House, built in 1756 was the working place of photographer Octavio Hill. Now the house is rented as a vacation home. I mean, if we want to, we can be another of the many occupants Calton Hill has had as tenants. It had an ancient Celtic Castro that was used also as an open-airtheater. It existed as a small monastery that occupied a part of the hill that later became a hospital for lepers.
But we have not arrived at the top yet tophotograph what is on thetop of the hill, so, one, two, three, prepare your cameras. Bird´s Eye View! We can photograph the Old City, Castle of Edinburgh, Holyrood Palace, Canon gate Cemetery, and the Old Calton Hill Cemetery.Also,the New City, Princess Street, the Tower of Balmoral Hotel, Monument to Walter Scott, Leith, Docklands, and the Forth River Estuary. I think the picturescannot be more complete. If we were to have just a few minutes to be in Edinburgh, this would be the place to get an idea of the city.
ABERDEEN ANGUS HAMBURGER
We can recommend many things from the Scottishgastronomy like thefamous haggis or the Scottishsoups of vegetables and meats, so delicious! But we have opted for something that surely will be pleasant tothe majority. Let´s go to eat hamburgers!!!
But not any hamburgers, hamburgersfrom Aberdeen Angus veal. Nowadays we can see thesecows in other parts of the world like inthe United States, Argentine or Uruguay, as they have been exported to these places, but this breed was original from Scotland, it grew up here, and here,the best bulls were selected as stallions to make this meat so tasty that now itis known all around the world.
Aberdeen Angus, which is so appreciated,is a medium size cow, which can beblack or red, andwithout horns. The best is not only going to eatthe hamburgersbut the place we are going to eat them. We could eat themin almost every pub of the city as they are made by hand at the moment and every pub has its own recipe.
Then we go to a very pleasant area called Grassmarket. From 1477 it was one of the most important markets. Originally,it was shared with the horse and cattle market that doesn´t exist anymore. The square of the market had plenty of local taverns and accommodationswhere merchants met to close their deals, function that has not been lost as the square is still an important meeting point. Grassmarket had another function, as many squares in the big cities,was the place for public executions, so at the place where the gallows stood in the XVII century, today is a commemorative plaque, reminding us of its function.Some of the executed were covenanters, a religious movement of the Presbyterian church that participated in some rebellions against the monarchical power.
Actually,the market takes place on Saturdays: fruits, vegetables and many local craft stalls, all animated with pubs serving food, drinks and playing good music. The neighborhood also became a place where many students live, so the picturesque square with buildings from the XVIItill the XXIcenturies has become one of the favorite places to go to eat something. We are going to do the same, when we start to feel hungry, we already know where we are going.
Grassmarket Old Town
PRINCESS STREET AND ROYAL MILE
The two main shopping streets in Edinburgh are Royal Mile and Princess Street, both in the heart of the city. In Princess Street are those typical commercial stores foundin any cities,but if you want to take away a souvenir that will remind you of your passing through the city, thengo to Royal Mile. The street measures one mile, that is to say1,814.2 meters.Full of souvenir shops, this pedestrian street has at its higher side the Edinburgh Castle and at its lower side the Palace of Holyrood. The Edinburgh Castle was a royal residence and a fortress with military purposes. It was built at the top of a volcanic rock and it may be visited,as there are some museums and exhibitions at its interior alongside with itsimpressive architecture.Holyrood is the official residence of the Royal House in Scotland, where every year the royal family spend some weeks, transferring the court to the Scottishcapital. There is a part of the palace that can be visited. Once you find yourself in this street, placed right between these two monuments, you will see many shops where the most typical of Scotland can be found.
However,we will focus ontwo souvenirs fora reason: theymake the pleasureof all passersby.
-Shortbread, are the famous butter Scottish biscuits. You cannot go without tasting them. We are not going to fool you: one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts wheat flour and the oven at very low temperature so they keep theirlight colour, untoasted. A delight which is much appreciated not only in Scotland. We will become fans of these cookies as soon as we taste them.
-Tartan, simply explained, is the Scottishplaid fabric we all know. In reality,tartan is the name of the design, not the fabric. So, if we want to feel really Scottish, sometimeswe will have the temptation to dress up inthis plaid fabric so used in this region. We will find all kindsof garments with tartan design and in every colour we want.If we have seen any films, seriesor documentariesabout Scotland,we have also seen that the different Scottishclans are differentiated by their Tartans, so it cannot be more Scottish.
Watch out for business hours, this is Scotland, the closing time of shops is about 17.30 h, Saturdays at 17.00 h to19.30 h. In the Royal Mile,they are open till 20.00 h.
Princess Street / Royal Mile.
Inviting someone to take a walk in a cemetery would not be the most appropriate thing in any part of the world, but in Scotland,cemeteries are integrated in the cities and thepeople walk throughthem, relax, sit down on their tombstones to rest or to eat a sandwich quietly. Although this cemetery is well known by Bobby´s story, the dog taking care of its master´s grave thatwas buried in the same place, we are not going to the cemetery specially for Bobby, but for the beauty of the place, the beautiful views we will have, and forthe historical eventsthat took place here.
So, it will not bea single photobut many that we will take as souvenirs from the cemetery. A recent event that gavemore fame to this place wasthe Harry Potter´s series where some believe the writer took two surnames from the tombs, the poet William McGonagall, turned into the head teacher of Gryffindor house, and the other, from theRiddle family as the surname of Voldemort in its human form. But the author never confirmed to have used this as a source of inspiration. What is certain is the cemetery hasplenty of otherroyal stories and characters.
George Mackenzie, the famous lawyer of King Charles II is buried here, the manresponsible forthe persecutory policy of the kingagainst the Covenanters, for not accepting the religious doctrine that the king wanted to impose. There, in a nearby space which today,is part of the cemetery without roofsand not inconditions to live, 1.200 covenanters were imprisoned waiting for a trial, some of them were executed, others died fromthe mistreatments, over-crowdedand hungry, and others were sent ona boat to the colonies as slaves. Butthe boat never arrived andsankin front of the Orkney islands losing almost all ofits crew. With all these stories, the lovers of the beyond would find in this cemetery all kinds of topics ofdiscussionsfor supernatural phenomena.
As a curious thing, there is a row of graves leaning against a wall. If we look closely, between the tombs,there are windows whichbelong to the building with which the cemetery shares thewall andthese windows are of the neighbors living there. Silent neighbors, yes, they are!
Recognized as one of the biggest and most important centers of Technology and Religious Studies inthe United Kingdom, it is located in the old town of Edinburgh. It opened its doors in 1842 due to areligious conflict when laity and clergy abandoned the Church of Scotland to found the Free Church of Scotland, with no tides with the state and with the function to educate the Scottish people, leaders and ministers of the church morally.
From 1930,it was the School of Theology of the University of Edinburgh. The building we are going to see is from1846, built by architect William Henry Playfair and was supervised by the school director Thomas Chalmer. Architecturally,it is mostly Neo Tudor style that began to be fashionable at the start of the XIX century, recovering architectural elements of the Middle Ages, more precisely of the times of the Tudor´s dynasty.
Following the model of the late gothic perpendicular style with an emphasis on straight lines. We will access the sober quadrangular patio across the crenellated towers flanking the gate. Already inside of the patio, high square towers with crochet pinnacles surround us, and in the background, the spire of The Hub. In the patio,we can see the grand staircase to access the interior of the building and also the statue of John Knox, recognized as the father of the Protestant Reform in Scotland and founder of Presbyterianism in the XVI century. Prominent figure of the protestant church of Scotland, Knox supported the overthrow of Mary of Guise, regent of Scotland on behalf of her daughter Mary Stuart of thecatholic religion. When Queen Mary Stuart went back to Scotland, Knox kept leading the revolts against the Catholics, openly disobeying the queen, and when she was finally imprisoned, Knox asked for her execution. The bronze statue we can admire today of the reformist leader was made by sculptor John Hutchison, created in 1895, to be expressly placed at this place.
This precious building out off the beaten track is at the heart of the city and it is even visible from popular Princess Street.
This time our challenge will guide us to gastronomy. Everywhere in Scotland, there are delicious foods, but we must think that depending on each culture, what is a delicacy for some, canbe something unthinkable to bring to the mouth for others.
So, the dish we are going to present you today does not know half the measures. Either it arises love at first sight or instant disgust. We don´t know if saying this is motivating you very much butyou have to taste it to know what side you are on.So, without any more preambles, we are going to discover this very famous dish.Main ingredient of haggis is lamb organs, such ascrushed heart, liver and lungs from the lamb, together with oatmeal, salt, onionsand different spices.
All this goes insidea gut and may be accompanied by mash potatoes or turnip andsome take also a "dram", a shot of whisky. This food was easy to transport as originally it was made inside a sheep stomach, so it became popular when shepherds had to travel with the cattle from one place to another and they could take the haggis.
But it was Scottishpoet Robert Burns who really made haggispopular with its Ode to Haggis. So,every 25th of January, Burn’s birthday,friends get home together to celebrate haggis this day and in a thousand more other occasions,as it is very popular in Scotland as we said before. Some decades ago, vegetarian haggis was created for vegetarians to enjoy something similar to haggis, changing the guts for vegetables and it is said it tastes similar.
And as all successful dishes, we can find from ice creams to chips with thehaggistaste. As many visitors in Scotland didn´t understand what haggis is,the Scots tease them inventing an animal with uneven legs running in the Scottishhills. Well, now, whatremains is your acceptingthe challenge and decidingto taste a haggis.
It is a road bridge in the city of Edinburgh although explainedlike this, might not interest you atall. But if we were to tell you that this bridge is full of chambers, called thevaults that serve the host of any kind of businesses and tenants,which were not always within legality, for sure the bridge will appear more interesting now. It also was the first commercial street of Edinburgh.The bridge is a viaduct with 19 arches that remain hidden between the buildings and only one, the Cowgate arch,can be seen. Itis in this hidden archwhere the vaults were made to be used as workshops and business warehousing of the bridge.
But the bad quality of the construction and the floods made the enterprises abandon the space very soon andthe vaults got filled with poor people and illegal businesses as not recommended brothels and slums. The place was terrible to live, without running water, light or ventilation, full of humidity and an overpopulation of families crowded in small rooms. All this made thieves and murderers quickly attracted to this place. At that time,there were two murderers, William Burke and William Hare, who unfortunately became very famous in Edinburgh.
Their criminal acts continued for a year, killing 16 people, withoutany suspicion from the police. They suffocated their victims and sold the corpses to the University of Edinburgh, for dissection and study, more specifically to an ambitious and unscrupulous doctor named Robert Knox.
It is believed that many of the victims went out from the vaults, people without resources, prostitutes for ex, peoplewhose tracks were easily erased since nobody claimed them. The vaults were used for30 years from the moment of their construction in 1788 and although there are not many records of their activities, atsome point, the accesses were blocked with debris and they were discontinued.
The vaults were rediscovered in the 1980s by the rugby player Norrie Rowan. Currently, although there are many parts closed, some sections are used for ghost tours as it has always been believed that beings from beyond are still inhabiting them. T
here is also another part where private events are held, although each day, theaccessis more controlled and ruled. Well, if you have time and desire to investigate, you will surely not be disappointed from this hidden part of the city.
WORLD HARRY POTTER
If we are going to take a walk by the Harry Potter´s World in the city of Edinburgh, first we must know something more about the marvelousmind from which the most famous magician of the world was born.
J.K. Rowling or Joanne Rowling,which is her real true name, was born in 1965 in Yate, United Kingdom. She studied at Exeter University and lived a year in Paris to move to London next. The first idea about Harry Potter was in 1990 during a train ride between Manchester and London. She kept imagining Harry at her London´s apartment. She moved to Porto for a job as an English teacher, where she met Jorge Arantes to whom she fell in love and married. A year later she left Porto to go to live near her sister in Edinburgh. Joanne turned to her native country without a husband and with a daughter.
After going through a trial, restraining order, depression, andsickness, shefinally divorcedJorge Arantes. After being situated and calmer,she finished her first novel, writing, among other places, at some bars in Edinburgh, and this is wherewe start.
When Joanne went out to take a walk with her baby Jessica, she used to sit down in a cafeteria, not at street level but on the second floor, named Nicolson´s, whereher brother-in-law was the owner and whereshe wrote her first novel. Nicolson´s cafe doesn´t exist anymore, what is still existing is the place location, but the cafeteria hasdisappeared. We are speaking about 1994 when Jessica was still a baby and Joanne would gothere to sit down. Now at its place isa restaurant called Spoon, in Nicholson Street 6 A. Our second stop is called Elephant House and it is on 21st George IV Bridge, Joanne wrote at this cafeteria besides the window. What did she see from there that could inspire her?
Nothing more and nothing less than the Castle of Edinburgh and the cemetery of Greyfriars.The cemetery is something you cannot miss during your stay in Edinburgh and not only for Harry Potter, but also because the walk is a delight. Here are two tombs and names that are said to have inspired Joanne for some scenes, but it is only a guess because the author never confirmed anything. Our following point is on the same wall of the cemetery. George Heriot School could very probably be the inspiration for Rowling for Hogwarts Magic School. George Heriot is divided into four houses andwhen a student gets in, he is assignedto one of them and has to compete to make the house the winner. Surely,you had already read this in the novel (Hogwarts in the films is an English castle called Alnwick), but the internal operative is very similar to Heriot. In the old part of Edinburgh there is a busy street full of shops and people buying, called Victoria Street, that maybe could be the famous Diagon alley on the book where magicians went shopping.
And to finish, although it was not an inspiration for the novel but surelyyou would like to see it. Weare going to walk to Edinburgh City Chambers, in the Royal Mile. In front of the Cathedral, at the floor, together with other important characters from Edinburgh, you can see the hands of J.K.Rowling, between other relevant persons.
Good walk,dear magicians.
For our break,we have chosen to sit down on a bench, but not any bench, not the one you are imagining, but a bank headquarters at the ancient bank headquarters of the Commercial Bank of Scotland, designed by thearchitect David Rhind in 1844. Rhind accepted this project fromthe old Doctor´s Lounge byarchitect James Craig, who made the planningof the new area of Edinburgh in 1766,whohad to find a buyer because of the debts incurred in theconstruction. Rhind transformed the building,transmitting the construction of the ideology of the society of his time, highlighting its marvelous facade with an impressive porch and an inner glass dome, allowing the light to go into its elegant hall.
Ionic columns, golden balustrades and paneled domes weresome of the elements that Rhind included in the construction of the building. But the best comes now. After some fusionsof this bank with other banks, the building was put up for a sale and it was bought by a Scottishenterprise that turned it into a very elegant and spectacular bar-restaurantthat opened its doors in 1996, with the name "The Dome´´, located at one of the most elegant streets of the new town, George street.This street was plannedduring the XVIII century by urban planner James Craig.
Its name honors King George III. The area was planned as a residential area but it changed its function during the Victorian time and its houses changed into banks, big department stores, exhibition halls, and actually, aside fromall these places, bars, restaurants and haute couture shops were added, making it the most prestigious street of the city. Many buildings were designed by thearchitect David Bryce who lived in number 131 of this street. This will be the place where we will make our break to enjoy the building inside and also one of the most beautiful streets of Edinburgh outside.
4, George Street
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